Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most eagerly anticipated PC game releases of 2015 and this week the tension was finally over. For most the wait for desktop version of the 2013/2014 smash hit was totally worth it, with overwhelmingly positive reviews circulating online.
For others, however, the week has been one of tooth-gnashing, nail-biting tension, largely spent worrying over whether the mighty DRM-defeating piracy overlords would find it in their hearts to throw a cracked version to the masses.
And in parts it was a pretty ugly thing to behold.
Endless warez and torrent forums (and more public affairs such as Reddit) were flooded with requests for a cracked version of the iconic game, leading to anger over the umpteenth duplicate thread among those who’d answered the same questions dozens of times already.
But the real desperation was to be found in numerous chat channels occupied by people hoping to get an early heads-up on where to find the first free (and functioning) online copies.
On the day of the game’s release TF spent time in a few of them and for the most part it was an absolute car crash, largely due to people posting links to all manner of bogus content.
While the pictures of crack (cocaine) and the odd meme weren’t particularly hostile, the links to renamed .exe files and people running them there and then, with no apparent concern for the well being of their computers, was something to behold.
“Don’t forget to disable your anti-virus before running,” was the sterling advice given on a number of occasions.
At least twice people claimed to have received errors on their screen after running what they thought was a genuine crack, only to immediately disappear from chat, never to return. With the air thick with schadenfreude, much dark hilarity ensued among the link spammers.
By Wednesday it became clear that Chinese group 3DM would probably be the first to put out a crack for the popular title and sure enough a few hours later the much-anticipated code began to propagate. Suitable only for Windows 7 machines in the first instance, a later version claimed to cater for Windows 8 installations too.
But for some the few hours wait between official GTA V launch and the subsequent crack release had been too much. With a level of impatience not often seen in the gaming world, countless users publicly declared “enough is enough” and reported buying the game on Steam instead. They’re probably still stuck in Los Santos now, robbing and killing their way to infamy.
Nevertheless, many thousands more with either more patience, less disposable income, or both, proceeded to obtain the game and its crack through less official channels. By very early Thursday at least 20,000 people had obtained the game using BitTorrent, a not inconsiderable feat considering the huge size of the files involved.
While the updates and cracks weighed in at less than 400mb, the game files themselves were changing hands in archives ranging from 40GB to 60GB, with warnings that the compressed version could take four hours or more to decompress and install, even after the mammoth download.
But despite the waiting and hoop jumping, by early Thursday a staggering one petabyte of data had been exchanged on the most popular GTA V torrents, an amount equal to all U.S. Internet traffic during a single day in 2000. Or, to put it another way, more data than was consumed by the million Game of Thrones pirates who downloaded the first leaked episode in the hours following last week’s surprise release.
Nevertheless, even after all the head-scratching, waiting, downloading, decompressing and other shenanigans, many users are still having problems running the cracked version of the game. Others, on the other hand, report no problems at all and have heaped praise on 3DM for their amazing work.
“I love this game! Is there any way to donate to 3DM?” a user on one site asked.
“How about sending money to the Rockstar devs instead?” came a dry response.
And indeed, some pirates intend to do just that.
“It’s definitely impressive [to have cracked the game] in such a short time. I appreciate the efforts a lot,” wrote one.
“My only real goal was to gauge how well it runs on my PC before I plunk down $60 for it. Now that I know it runs fine I’ll be buying it after work today.”