After months of anticipation, and a few delays, gamers will soon have their hands on Grand Theft Auto 5 – even if they have to wait another two full weeks to step into the world of Grand Theft Auto Online. While the multiplayer component may not launch until October 1st, a host of new features and gameplay refinements, not to mention three separate protagonists, should keep players plenty busy for weeks (and months) to come – presenting the most robust Grand Theft Auto title to date.

Still, no Triple-A game launch is without a few hiccups. Rockstar Games has mitigated more than a few release hurdles by separating the single player and online launch dates, allowing the team to focus on side of the game at a time, but that doesn’t mean the developer isn’t going to be busy addressing Grand Theft Auto 5 release confusion.

More than twenty-four hours before the official launch of the title, Rockstar Games took to Twitter to address a common question from eager Xbox 360 gamers who were preparing for post-midnight GTA5 marathoning, specifically: “Would you recommend to install the ‘play’ disk to the hard drive or not, if you had the space?

Surprisingly, the developer replied that gamers should NOT install the ‘play’ disc – claiming that optimal gameplay performance will be achieved when GTA5 is accessed directly from the physical disc. You can see the official response from Rockstar Games Support below:

Whereas the PlayStation 3 version of the game is housed on a single Blu-ray disc, with a mandatory install, the Xbox 360 version of the game includes two DVDs – the aforementioned “play” disc and a “install” disc. It goes without saying that players should install the Xbox 360 “install” disc (which likely includes the same assets covered in the PS3 mandatory install).

Often, Xbox 360 games actually run better when installed directly to the hard drive – but it varies from title to title. In this case, not only is there no benefit to installing the “play” disc, GTA5 actually runs better via a combination of HDD assets (from the install disc) and running the “play” disc directly from the DVD drive. In an effort to help Xbox 360 players see the difference, Digital Foundry has juxtaposed video of GTA 5 running on the recommended setup (where only the “install” disc is copied to the HDD) as well as footage from the result of installed “play” and “install” discs. In the gameplay video (which you can view below), it’s easy to see that installing both the “play” and “install” discs causes noticeable pop-in along with delay in refining textures.

The issues are predominantly cosmetic and are unlikely to affect core gameplay functionality but, considering that installing the “play” disc not only takes up valuable hard drive space but also negatively impacts the game’s rich visuals, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would choose an install – especially since the “play” disc is still required to be in the DVD tray in order to play the game.

Adding to the list of issues that the developer is addressing in the wake of massive Grand Theft Auto 5 pre-orders is the revelation that online retailer Amazon has broken street date – at least in certain areas. According to Games Industry, 24 hours before the official September 17th street date, Amazon customers took to social media and posted images of Grand Theft Auto 5 retail copies – which had arrived a full day before the scheduled delivery date.

24 hours might not sound like a significant amount of time but street dates are in place for a reason – so that no retailer has an edge over another. Given that Amazon is an online retailer that requires at least one day to deliver an order to customers, the breaking of street date won’t likely lead to an unfair influx of customers rushing to the Internet superstore, but that doesn’t mean the seller isn’t in violation of street date agreements with Rockstar Games. As a result, it is possible that, due to Amazon’s slip-up, the developer could authorize other retailers to release their respective pre-orders ahead of schedule (so check your local store).

Grand Theft Auto 5 Cast Revealed

More than likely, the early release of GTA5 to customers was the result of a mistake at one (or many) of their distributions centers, which each ship to multiple states and countries, not an intentional effort on the part of the larger Amazon organization to get the game into customer hands ahead of schedule. Regardless of the reason, Rockstar Games is taking the violation seriously – with the intention of investigating exactly what happened so that Amazon customers don’t get early copies of future titles.


Grand Theft Auto 5 releases September 17, 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

Sources: Rockstar GamesGames Industry