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Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer side of Grand Theft Auto V, is off to a rocky start. Rockstar Games has decided to remove players' ability to spend real-world money in GTA Online while they work to stabilize the experience.
"For the time being and until we have been able to get everybody access to GTA Online and things are running smoothly, we have disabled the option of purchasable GTA$ cash packs," says Rockstar. "Players can however keep on earning GTA$ by pulling off Jobs and other profitable gameplay activities rather than purchasing cash packs."
GTA$ allows players to buy new equipment, clothing and properties in GTA Online. I assume Rockstar disabled the option to spend real-world money on this currency to prevent transactions from being lost during the turbulent launch.
GTA Online was officially unlocked on Tuesday with a title update for GTA V. Many players have been unable to play it, though, due to freezing or connection issues. Those lucky enough to connect to GTA Online have experienced problems loading the missions throughout the game world.
As of this morning, Rockstar has been able to fix at least one bug with the service. Some PS3 users were unable to access GTA Online at all due to a PSN server issue that was limiting the amount of concurrent users. However, Rockstar says that this problem should be resolved now.
Should you successfully connect to GTA Online and create your character, though, you're not out of the woods just yet. Many gamers on both Xbox 360 and PS3 have been stuck on the "waiting for other players" screen for the tutorial race. If you're experiencing this problem, Rockstar suggests trying a couple workarounds devised by players.
"Some players have reported being able to get into the Tutorial race by re-downloading the Title Update, which can be deleted from Xbox Home or the PS3 XMB (Game Data Utility, NOT save data). Others reported having luck by selecting "Swap Character" from the Online tab within the pause menu, deleting the character that was unable to get into the tutorial, and then creating a new character. Some who were experience this issue have been able to get in just by trying again later."
Still, even if you get past the first race, you shouldn't expect a bug-free experience. Rockstar says that there's "some instability across the GTA Online services" that affects people who have completed the tutorial mission. The development team is currently working to fix the issues.
My recommendation remains the same: wait a few days before you bother trying to play. The frustrations of disconnects and lost progress will probably outweigh any joy you'll wring from GTA Online's currently mangled form. I'd recommend playing the single-player campaign, though the title update unlocking GTA Online is preventing some players from doing that.