Update (March 16): The official patch is now live, and some players are reporting huge improvements.
Original story: Rockstar Games has confirmed to PC Gamer that a fan-made solution to GTA Online's abysmal loading times will become official in a forthcoming update.
At the beginning of March, Github user tostercx, who also goes by t0st, claimed they'd discovered a way to reduce GTA Online's loading times by up to 70 percent. Further, they also released a fix that you can pick up here—with a caveat that it's an unsupported "proof of concept, not for casual use.”
For those interested in the technical angles of such things, tostercx also wrote up a detailed analysis of what was wrong, and how they’d fixed it. It's fairly technical, but the short version is that the slowdown was being caused by "a single thread CPU bottleneck while starting up GTA Online,” a problem they estimated "shouldn’t take more than a day for a single dev to solve."
It actually took a somewhat longer than that, but Rockstar has confirmed that tostercx's findings were accurate, and that a fix is on the way.
"After a thorough investigation, we can confirm 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," the company said in a statement. "As a result of these investigations, we have made some changes that will be implemented in a forthcoming title update."
Tostercx said that they were awarded $10,000 through Rockstar's Bug Bounty program. That's normally reserved for discovering security or privacy issues in Rockstar's online games, but the studio decided to award the bounty "as an exception" in this case, tostercx said. Rockstar confirmed to PC Gamer that the payment is being made.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.