Crisis Management before Grand Theft Auto Online Launch

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    Rockstar’s reputation may hang in the balance

    With Grand Theft Auto V claiming the record for not only the fastest-selling video game but also the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time, creator Rockstar North is in crisis management mode as it prepares its servers to handle millions more players than expected at the launch of its Grand Theft Auto Online service, scheduled to open today, October 1.

    BBC News Reports:

    Last week the company admitted it was facing “unanticipated” pressure because sales had been stronger than expected.

    “We are working around the clock to buy and add more servers,” its blog said.

    But it added that matters could be “more temperamental than such things usually are” because using so many computers introduced its own issues.

    In the online version of the 18-rated violent crime game, up to 16 players can interact simultaneously within a virtual environment and create personalised avatars.

    It is included free with every copy of the GTA 5 console video game. According to one analyst’s figures, more than 15 million units of the title had been sold by early last week.

    “At a conservative estimate I would expect about two million players to log on to GTA Online within the first 24 hours,” added Keza MacDonald, UK games editor for, the video game and entertainment site.

    “Rockstar has never done an online game of this scale before, so they are totally unproven in terms of their network infrastructure.

    “And even the highly successful World of Warcraft at its peak didn’t have as many people playing online at once as GTA is likely to have, so it wouldn’t surprise me if there were problems.”

    The Rockstar team has to be thinking of the debacle that was the Sim City launch, and if they’re smart they’ll have a plan of action for even their worst-case scenarios. By the time this post is published, Rockstar should have Grand Theft Auto Online up and running, but you can bet we’ll be watching to see how they handle the inevitable curveballs that come along with any major online event.

    Of course, we’d love to hear from you gamers out there as well! Were you able to get online, and what do you think of Rockstar’s efforts thus far?

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]