GTA Online‘s (extremely) long loading time has been a long-running running joke in the community ever since the game launched in September 2013. For most people, it could take at least five minutes — three full Street Fighter matches — from starting the game to finally land in a multiplayer lobby. The player base has always assumed Rockstar’s terrible net code or server caused it. After all, getting randomly booted out of servers isn’t a rare occurrence as well. However, a networking issue is not the actual problem behind GTA Online load time.
A programmer-slash-GTA-player that calls themselves T0ST saw a “programming flaw” in the game code. They managed to reduce their load time from six minutes to a whopping one minute 50 seconds by fixing it. Just around 70% faster! T0ST hopes that his finding could reach Rockstar and has uploaded the fix to their GitHub page. But be warned: it’s intended to be more of a “proof of concept” and not for casual use. The fix also works by injecting a DLL code; for that reason, the game might flag it as a “cheat” and accidentally ban your account.
If you’re wondering what actually caused GTA Online lengthy loading time and how they fixed it, you can read the detail over on T0ST’s blog. In case you’re not that tech-savvy, as summarized by Digital Foundry and PC Gamer, here is the gist of the flaw that they found:
- When you launch GTA Online, the game scans a 10MB JSON text file containing a list of 63,000 purchasable in-game items.
- Each time it reads an item, it records both the data (name, price, etcetera) and a hash value (essentially unique digital fingerprint) of said item.
- And then, it checks the hash value from the record against the hash value of every other item.
- T0ST estimated that this leads to GTA Online doing 1,984,531,500 checks to make sure that there are no duplicate lists of items, causing a CPU bottleneck.
- Which the game doesn’t even need to do in the first place, considering all of the items in the JSON file are unique anyway.
Will Rockstar heed their words and apply this fix when it does another “relaunch” for PS5 and Xbox Series X some time this year? Let’s hope so since this “loading simulator” issue is the biggest reason I dropped the game. Share your thoughts in the comments, and stay tuned for more news about GTA games in the future.