GTA Online players noticed something odd yesterday: All of the convenience store and liquor store cashiers were gone. Sixteen hours later, these characters were reported as back across all platforms, but nobody knows what happened.
As many of you know, GTA Online convenience stores are operated by one NPC who will sell snacks and drinks to the player. Since it's GTA Online, you can also just pull out a gun and rob them. There are over a dozen stores around Los Santos that players can enter and rob -- and yesterday, every single one has no staff inside. I checked each store across the digital state of San Andreas and every store was the same. No clerk. Some stores still had NPC patrons coming up to the counter, waiting for a cashier to check them out. They would wait for a while then leave, probably confused.
Barber shops, clothing stores and bars are still operating normally, though.
While it might seem like a small feature, robbing convenience stores is sometimes a daily objective, which means that yesterday, some players couldn't finish their daily missions. The more glaring problem, though, was that without store clerks, new GTA Online players couldn't complete the tutorial.
Last night I made a new character and played through the opening of GTA Online. Once I had finished the first few tasks, Lamar told me to go rob a convenience store, but there was nobody there. OK then! I tried finding a way around it by shooting the register, and while money does drop, it doesn't count as "robbing" the store. Welp. You can, of course, just skip the tutorial, but totally newbie players probably won't do that. It's also possible to get out of the tutorial once you're in it, but in my experience those methods are buggy are unreliable.
Store clerks weren't the only thing missing in GTA Online: Players also couldn't organise cars in their garages, while some PC players were having issues setting bounties. Why any of this is happening is anybody's guess. In the past, Rockstar has fixed exploits by temporarily removing features. Rockstar has not yet responded to a request for comment. I guess we can just pretend they were on strike or something.