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GTA V performance issues highlight problems with digital future

Designed to stream from HDD and disc at once, PSN GTA V struggles

Update

Sony has returned a comment on the issues affecting PSN downloads of GTA V, saying that it is unaware of any issues.

"We were not aware of these problems," a spokesperson told GamesIndustry International. "However, this isn't an issue we've encountered in any other title, even those which consisted of larger files, such as TLOU."

Original story

GTA V's release has been an overwhelming success for Rockstar, but by creating a game which stretches current console hardware to its very limits, the Scottish developer has identified a few weak spots in the PS3 and 360. That's no surprise at the end of a generation, but more troubling is the problems which have emerged for customers who bought the digital download version of the game from Sony's PSN.

Because the game is designed to stream data from both the hard disc and physical media drive simultaneously, trying to run everything from the HDD leaves the PS3 struggling with data bandwidth, resulting in object pop-in and texture issues, says Digital Foundry. A similar issue was observed with the 360 when the second disc is installed alongside the mandatory disc one, but the problem it highlights goes beyond the limitations of the current generation's raw grunt, Digital Foundry believes, rather pointing toward the potential problems of an all-digital future.

"All in all, considering that the digital PS3 release of Grand Theft Auto 5 carries a premium price over what you can expect to pay for the disc version, it's very disappointing to encounter technical issues mostly unseen by those who buy it in a box," writes author Thomas Morgan. "These are just sampled highlights of the issues we found from the first 20 minutes of capturing the game, and there's every chance they'll continue to manifest over the course of the game."

Compounding those woes, downloads have been problematic, too, with Sony's network apparently struggling under demand.

"To make matters worse, in researching this piece two members of our team struggled to even finish the download of the digital PS3 version, suggesting real issues with PSN infrastructure. This is despite being based in two separate locations with individual ISPs - one being on a 60mbps Virgin Media fibre connection and the other on 40mbps Sky fibre line. The infamous error code 80029563 popped up following several separate corrupted 18GB downloads. Eventually, we managed to break through with a complete download - taking an unusually slow two hours and 54 minutes, with the installation clocking in at 55 minutes.

"Taking the PSN route to Los Santos turns out to be hardly convenient or cheap, nor the most technically refined way to play the game."

Nonetheless, the issues are relatively minor, and come from a game which is squeezing all it can from a machine not designed to push this much data through its bus. Whether this issue is something which has been taken into account in the design of the PS4 remains to be seen, but GamesIndustry International has made a request to both Sony and Rockstar for comment.

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Dan Pearson

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