Around two weeks ago an enterprising modder called t0st uploaded something pretty shocking to Github: a fix that, they claimed, took care of two bugs in Grand Theft Auto Online's loading sequence and slashed the game's infamously long load times by up to 70 percent. They explained their work, and offered some advice to Rockstar.
Rockstar was silent for a while, and then confirmed to PC Gamer yesterday "that player t0st did, in fact, reveal an aspect of the game code related to load times for the PC version of GTA Online that could be improved."
Rockstar said that it would apply some of t0st's learnings in an update, and now it has: A patch has been released for GTA Online that implements the fix, and the results are immediately obvious. Our own Wes Fenlon timed that it used to take him three minutes and 15 seconds to get from launch to the in-game apartment, and a post-patch test is doing the same thing in two minutes. Phil Savage tested it too and got an even more impressive result of just over a minute to load (though he hasn't timed his old loads).
The GTA Online community on Reddit has been posting their own findings, and they are suggesting even more spectacular differences. We can't verify these, so some claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, but there are an overwhelming number of people saying they've seen a massive improvement.
"Insane. GTA menu -> GTA: Online. Dropped from 7 minutes to 1:57," writes user Ontyyy, who says they're using an i7-2600k with a GTX 1070 and 16 GB RAM. Xim claims that their load times "dropped from 5-8 minutes to 35 seconds." Silent Prototipe saw it go "from 4-5 minutes to 1 a minute and 22 seconds." K1pone writes, "Loading time 2m 20s for online directly from Steam. Before it was like 8-10 minutes for me. Damn." Yash 217: "Went from 7 minutes to 2.5 minutes... This update might just get me back playing regularly."
Our own internal tests show more modest improvements, but improvements nevertheless.
Rockstar's brief notes on the patch include an acknowledgement: "Thanks to t0st for his contributions around this part of today's title update." The company also paid t0st $10,000 through its Bug Bounty program, which is usually reserved for discovering security or privacy issues in Rockstar's online games, but this was "as an exception," t0st said.
It feels like t0st is owed even more than that: Who knows how many human hours their work has saved? Thanks to the patch, if you ever fancied diving back in to GTA Online, there's probably never been a better time.