Three classic Grand Theft Auto games in one package. Remasters, refined, and ready for a new generation of fans who may not have experienced these games the first time around. In theory, this sounds like an absolute smash for Rockstar. And for fans, it was going to be nice to play a GTA game that wasn't yet another version of GTA V. But instead, the launch has been something of a disaster. A Cyberpunk 2077 level disaster. We'll run you through exactly what's gone wrong. Here's the GTA Trilogy controversy explained.
Let's start with the fans' reception. At the time of writing, Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - The Definitive Edition had a user score of 0.7. This is based on 623 ratings, of which 577 are regarded as negative. While critic scores are yet to be added, this still represents something of a disaster in scoring terms. GTA IV sits as the third highest-scoring game of all time with a total score of 98. GTA V scored 97. And GTA III also scored 97. So to have failed to even score 1 shows how badly the game has been received. Even a game like Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust managed to score 17. But why exactly have fans been so angry, and piled on in this fashion?
Glitches And Bugs
One reason has been that the remaster has not been done particularly well. The game has suffered from a wide range of bugs and glitches. These have included issues with missions being unplayable, to characters looking extremely strange.
While errors, bugs, and glitches on a new release are forgivable, there is a limit. And arguably, when a game is being remastered (as opposed to being completely new) that threshold is lower. People have certain expectations of Rockstar games, and turning great games into this hot mess is not a strong start. But that's not all.
Rockstar actually removed the game from sale for a period of time. While you may expect this if the game was totally unplayable and in need of emergency fixes, there were other reasons at play. As per Rockstar's own Twitter account, The Definitive Edition was unavailable to play or purchase while they removed "files unintentionally included in these versions".
Rockstar themselves haven't explained what those unintentional files were. But data miners seemed to have uncovered unlicensed music which wasn't supposed to be included, other files that have developers comments attached, and potentially last, but no means least, Hot Coffee.
The Hot Coffee controversy was enormous back in the day. If you have never heard of it, Hot Coffee was a sex mini-game that was hidden in the original release of GTA San Andreas. It led to lawsuits, bans, and an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission. The code appeared to still be in the remastered games. And while it probably wouldn't cause the same stir as it did all those years ago, it may have caused a headache for Rockstar that they could do without.
We don't know exactly what Rockstar has in mind for improving the situation. It is to be hoped that a few patches and updates might fix some of the more egregious issues. But whether or not they will be able to undo the reputational damage as easily, is another matter. The delays to the release of the GTA V remaster, and the total lack of information about GTA 6, are not encouraging. Rumors abound of development hell for GTA 6. But how many more mistakes can Rockstar afford to make?