Players Are Keeping GTA 4 Online Alive By Buying Old PS3s
While you might associate the online elements of Grand Theft Auto with GTA Online these days, let's remember Niko Bellic laid the foundations for the massive multiplayer that spun off from GTA V. Although it's been 14 years since we first jumped into Liberty City, die-hard fans are keeping this world alive.
Although multiplayer has featured in every main GTA game apart from (weirdly) GTA III, things really took a leap with GTA IV. In 2020, GTA IV multiplayer was removed from the "Complete Edition" when Microsoft ended its Games for Windows Live support. Unpatched versions still have multiplayer enabled, but in another world, PlayStation owners are playing the way Rockstar intended all those years ago.
How Are GTA IV Players Keeping Online Alive?
Speaking to GamesRadar, GTA IV fanatic and community leader EL Fuga explained how the 2008 game's online element is anything but dead. "I run a community on Telegram, and we're still very active on the multiplayer scene," said EL Fuga. "Some of us have been around since it came out, which means we know the game pretty well because it's been well over a decade."
They went on to reveal that there's been an influx of players old and new who are actively buying PlayStation 3 consoles to jump into Liberty City with pals. They wax lyrical on the "first era" of GTA IV multiplayer between 2008 and 2012, where players were split between auto-aim servers and free-aim servers. EL Fuga continued: "The first era was 2008-2012 when modded games didn't exist so no one had to worry about it while playing in public lobbies. In the old days, people used to focus on one game mode specifically, whether that be Races, Team Deathmatch, Team Mafia Work, Cops n Crooks, Turf War or the Co-op modes."
GTA IV multiplayer was changed forever in mid-2012 when jailbroken PS3s allowed modders and hackers into the game, which usually went unpunished by PSN. A particular problem was the God Mode that made them invincible. Rockstar was reportedly too focussed on GTA V to really care. In 2018, those who'd been pushed to the fringes of the online community came back together, and these days, EL Fuga carefully screens players to make sure they aren't cheaters hiding in plain sight. In 2022, there's a 50-strong group that plays daily at around 7pm.
What's Next For GTA Online?
EL Fuga and the rest keeping a 14-year-old multiplayer alive is an amazing feat. They concluded, "Imagine seeing some names I hadn't seen for about a decade, and then see them coming to play again in 2022! I gotta say, I'm also impressed there are still new people that come to the multiplayer scene every year and stick around. For a 14-year-old game, it says a lot."
Even though GTA Online lives on bigger and better than ever thanks to The Criminal Enterprises update adding a tonne of new content in 2022, Rockstar has slowly been shuttering it on older consoles. In December, GTA Online was axed from the PS3 and Xbox 360, but with it still going strong on PS4/PS5 and Xbox One/Xbox Series, it makes sense to focus on these platforms. With the upcoming goliath of GTA 6 sure to tie into GTA Online, expect a much bigger community than the GTA IV online fan base to be playing after 14 years.