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Rockstar apologizes for the mess of GTA remasters – but how fixable is it?

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After eight days of fan complaints about the deplorable state of the GTA Trilogy remaster, Rockstar Games has finally responded, pledging to ensure that the games “live up to the level of quality they deserve.”

Describing the myriad of technical shortcomings as “unexpected”, the company apologized for the condition of the games, which “was not released in a condition that meets our quality standards.”

The developer then claimed it would fix the issues with all three games. “We have plans underway to fix technical issues and improve every game in the future,” Rockstar wrote. “With each update planned, the games will reach the level of quality they deserve.”

Rockstar has promised that a new patch will arrive “in the next few days” which “will resolve a number of issues”. It is not clear if this is the one mentioned, but version 1.02 has already landed with an impressive number of improvements in all formats, crushing some of the more glaring bugs like holes in the card, detection of broken collision and platform specific crashes.

There is also a bonus for PC players. Considering the poor condition of the remasters, fans were doubly angry with the removal of the original titles from online stores, and that’s something Rockstar has now rectified.

“We will be adding classic PC versions of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to the Rockstar Store as a bundle shortly,” the Rockstar statement continued. Additionally, anyone who has purchased Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – The Definitive Edition for PC from the Rockstar Store through June 30, 2022, will receive these classic versions in their Rockstar Games Launcher library at no additional cost.

Rockstar has so far been silent on criticism of the remasters. But that statement may have something to do with gamer anger turning into nasty social media attacks targeting developers and artists tasked with rebuilding games in the Unreal engine.

“It pains us to mention that we are hearing reports of members of development teams being harassed on social media,” the post explained. “We would like to ask our community to please maintain a respectful and civil discourse around this version as we work on these issues. “

GTA Trilogy Fixes: What Can We Really Do?

After Cyberpunk 2077’s notoriously sloppy launch last year, it took the creators of CD Projekt Red months to bring the game to a playable level. In a sense, the challenge on Rockstar’s plate is even greater: it’s three giant open-world games ported to a new engine with a myriad of issues across no less than four formats: PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

In fact, it’s even more complicated than that if, for example, you consider the Xbox One to be different from the Xbox One X, or the PS5 backward compatibility to be different from the native PS4 playback. This graph from Digital Foundry showing all possible performance permeations demonstrates the scale of the challenge ahead.

Graphic showing the different versions of the GTA Remastered Trilogy

(Image credit: Digital Foundry)

It is not very encouraging that Rockstar describes the technical problems as “unexpected”. Any serious level of pre-release testing would have revealed invisible bridges, rain that stops over bodies of water, and the Switch version struggling with frame rates in the 1920s for a 20-year-old game.

While fixing the most obvious bugs should be relatively straightforward, your definition of what constitutes “the quality they deserve” can differ significantly from that of Rockstar Games. The updated character models that were – badly, but not unfairly – compared to the Nintendo Miis aren’t a bug: they’re a design choice, and going back to the drawing board on them seems unlikely.

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Rockstar Games may be a much bigger company than CD Projekt Red with the resources to match, but it’s not a landmark project for the company either. While Cyberpunk 2077 had to be a success to justify the years of doing so, GTA games have already made billions for Rockstar over the years. All the money the remasters make is really just a bonus.

With that in mind, we’d be surprised if “The Definitive Edition” is ever in a condition to match the dictionary definition of words. But for now, we just need to see if actions can speak as loud as words.