Rockstar was supposed to be riding high on the release of the remastered Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy right now. Alas, it was not to be. The publisher’s decision to make the character models look like a low-fi version of The Sims was unpopular, but the complete collapse of Rockstar’s online authentication system is even worse. With no way to confirm ownership on PC, gamers can’t even hold their noses and enjoy the GTA carnage. As a result, Rockstar has pulled the PC version from sale on the company’s website.
I know what you’re thinking: how could Rockstar screw this up? GTA 3, GTA: San Andreas, and GTA: Vice City are some of the most beloved games of the last 20 years. The unstoppable march of technology also means almost every device can run these games quite easily in 2021. These titles predate the always-online world in which we currently live, but Rockstar decided to shoehorn its online Rockstar Games Launcher into the release. The first time you launch the games, they have to authenticate. No authentication, no game.
According to Rockstar’s tweets, it has suffered an outage of the servers that manage the launcher. That means any game that requires that system to authenticate won’t work, and that includes the brand new Grand Theft Auto Trilogy. However, as games from the early 2000s, these titles don’t have any online features — Rockstar didn’t bother to support the two-player mode from San Andreas or even something as simple as an online leaderboard. So, the only online service is authentication, and it’s broken.
The outage started on Thursday (November 11th), and it has continued for more than a day. As of this posting, you still can’t buy the Remastered Trilogy on PC. Going to the official page simply says the title is temporarily unavailable. Naturally, people who did buy the trilogy in spite of the graphics are upset they can’t play the games. And if you think you could just pick up a classic copy of the games, think again. Rockstar pulled the original versions from all digital storefronts in advance of the remastered release. Oh, you already own them? Well, they also need the Rockstar Games Launcher, so they don’t work, either.
Rockstar has not given any indication when the launcher will be online again. Console versions of the GTA Trilogy are unaffected by the outage. In addition, previous installs that have been authenticated should still work for now. Regardless, this has upset a lot of fans who were already iffy on the Remastered Trilogy. Rockstar has truly squandered an opportunity here. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised — there’s been a run of disastrous remastered releases lately.