GTA Online’s Biggest Problem Is Other Players

GTA Online’s Biggest Problem Is Other Players

GTA Online has a problem. Not with shark cards or servers, though many players aren’t happy about those things, but with other players. Over the years GTA Online has added content that has made other players some of the biggest hassles, and now much of the community is actively trying to avoid other players in a game built entirely around multiplayer.

A friend and I were driving across Los Santos in GTA Online a few months back. We were delivering some cars that we had stolen earlier that night and were now selling to an NPC buyer.

It was a relatively simple mission: The less damage the cars take the more money the CEO, myself, would get paid. Suddenly we saw a jet icon on the mini-map. We became nervous. Hopefully they would just pass us by or not even get close, we thought to ourselves. But moments later the pilot buzzed us and fired rockets at our cars, killing both of us in seconds. All that time and money wasted by one arsehole in a jet.

This happens far too often in GTA Online, and many other frustrated players believe it is only getting worse.


GTA Online was a very different game at launch. Most of my time in those early years was spent doing missions with a few friends, completing races and losing deathmatches. These missions took place in private sessions outside the public lobbies of GTA Online.

Content in the public lobby in the early days was limited to small distractions, like seeing a movie or robbing a convenience store. Getting killed in a public lobby back then was annoying if you were trying to buy some clothes or just chill, but it wasn’t a huge frustration.

Things have changed greatly since those early days. We now have more content than ever, maybe too much. Some of the most popular content now is focused on making money.

Businesses, like gun running or drug dealing, can make players a lot of cash. But these business missions have to be completed in public lobbies, which means you have to deal with other players. Many of these missions tag you on the map for all other players to see.

The end result is that many players are targeted while simply trying to complete a mission. And as Rockstar has added more weaponised super vehicles to the game, like the recently added Oppressor Mk. II, it is becoming harder and harder to make a dishonest living in GTA Online’s public lobbies.


A question the community continues to debate is exactly why some players are so focused on attacking and destroying others while they complete missions. There isn’t much of a reward for attacking a shipment of drugs or a stolen car. In fact, it is financially more efficient to spend time doing missions and shipments than to attack other players’ businesses. Are these aggressive players just doing it to troll?

Another problem that players point out is that attackers and trolls have a big advantage over defenders in these missions and sales. Defenders are usually unable to pick their transport and their drop-off point and have only one chance to complete the mission successfully. Attackers aren’t on missions, and so don’t have the same limitations or stakes.

They have no restrictions on vehicles; they are in a open lobby and can bring anything they want. They can group up and take out a sole player. They can die as much as they want and respawn. This all creates a scenario where a player might have spent hours or days grinding to get a big shipment of weed or guns to sell and another player can take all that hard work away in a matter of seconds.

For many, this feels unfair and poorly balanced.

In response to these attackers and trolls, some GTA Online fans have figured out different ways to get around the public lobbies required to do business missions. One easy, popular method that I’ve personally used involves entering and exiting sessions until you land in an empty or almost empty public lobby.

Another method I’ve used is to load up a public lobby, have my character watch TV, and then do something else in the real world. Sometimes when I come back after an hour or two the lobby will have emptied out considerably and I can complete my missions in peace.

There are other ways to avoid players in GTA Online. Some players recommended changing network settings on your console to limit how many players can join your lobby or unplugging your ethernet cable for a short amount of time to briefly cut off your internet connection. Searching YouTube, you will find hundreds of videos covering the topic of how to avoid full public lobbies.


Not everyone is looking to be alone; some players are just looking to avoid the trolls. Groups of passive and non-violent players have formed. These groups join sessions together and promise only to help or ignore other players. (This method has added benefits, as a lobby filled with other players will reward players completing business missions with more cash. Attacking trolls don’t get any bonus reward.)

Red Dead Redemption II will have multiplayer, though we don’t know much about it. GTA Online has been a huge success for Take-Two and Rockstar, and hopefully they’ll look to it to think about how players might interact in RDR II’s multiplayer.

Perhaps GTA Online’s griefers will inspire Rockstar to make RDR II’s online experience better. Bethesda’s upcoming Fallout 76 has anti-griefing mechanics that sound promising—maybe something similar could help keep fans from feeling like they have to avoid the other players in a multiplayer game. 


  • The lack of some sort of PvE-like option in public GTAV was a massive turn-off for me. Fair enough, maybe I should piss off and play another game … so I did and haven’t gone back. Sad to hear it hasn’t changed. I did those lobby tricks etc for a while, but it’s tedious after a while. Can’t see it being any different in RDR2, but I hope I’m wrong.

        • Sure would’ve been nice if they’d put some any of that same effort into the single-player content, or created some kind of PVE server so that players who aren’t fucking assholes could enjoy the fruits of their labour.

          • (By single player content, I meant DLC/online. The main campaign had PLENTY of content; you can never accuse GTA 5 on skimping on that. …Though it would’ve been nice to have more heists.)

  • Yeah this is why myself and all my mates now play other games. Was fun, but just because extremely miserable experience and a grind to play. Also why I won’t be getting into RDR2.

    Plenty of other good games out there.

  • and now much of the community is actively trying to avoid other players in a game built entirely around multiplayer.

    To be honest this is a problem with every multiplayer online game (well aside from a shooter like CS:GO and the like). No matter what rules or mechanisms are in place there will always be assholes who like to grief other players.

  • We’re angry about other criminals in a game where everyone is encouraged to embrace their inner violent criminal??

    • The problem is less about people doing so, and more about how little effort it requires for people to just constantly kill others.

      And the fact Rockstar give people less choice as time goes on, by forcing everything to require public lobbies… You have zero choice but to put up with it if you want to play any of the online content.

  • A question the community continues to debate is exactly why some players are so focused on attacking and destroying others while they complete missions. There isn’t much of a reward for attacking a shipment of drugs or a stolen car. In fact, it is financially more efficient to spend time doing missions and shipments than to attack other players’ businesses. Are these aggressive players just doing it to troll?


    Look. I get that being a cynic all the time can be a downer, but you’ll spend a LOT less time asking incredulous questions like this, because you’ll already know the answer.

    If you put two players in a room with weapons and targets, it’s only a matter of time until one of those players turns their weapon on the other player. It’s not about ‘if’, it’s about WHEN. (Much like ‘TTP’, factored by devs.)

    This is known. If you don’t know it, then where the fuck have you been?

    Take a look at what Fallout 76 is trying to do to stop griefing. It won’t stop it. A non-zero percentage of the gaming population will inevitably crawl through broken glass for the mere possibility of ruining someone else’s day for no reward. All you can do, as a dev, is add more glass, and maybe infect it with something deadly.

  • To avoid the trolls i just keep switching lobbies till i find a mostly empty one, then do the insignificant stuff until it glitches and I’m left in a lobby on my own. Then I sell my drugs or nightclub stash.

    Tend to not have much trouble with the vehicle warehouse though, can do thise missions even in high pop lobbies.

    Anyway, valid complaints raised in the article.

  • You know you can still run passive mode if you don’t want to partake in the PvP in public lobbies?

    Half the fun and appeal of GTA:O is going after other players.
    Sure, you might have a mission to complete, but I also have a blood lust that must be satisfied.

  • I’m not saying that arseholes don’t ruin the fun of GTAO and I understand the sentiment of wanting more fun co-op stuff where you play with friends instead of against random griefers.
    What I wanna say in relation to the first scenario is the business based missions are specifically designed around both co-op and PVP.
    You and your friends are tasked with delivering a payload while protecting it from NPC’s and players who are given alerts and incentives to interfere.
    Again, while I understand the sentiment of wanting a fun experience with friends, playing a business based delivery mission means dealing with player based threats, it’s supposed to be part of that fun.

    Try to scope out a small lobby and keep an eye on people (It drives me crazy how many people neglect a quick mini map check)
    When the mission is live, watch how people act nearby, you can tell aggressive behaviour and somebody jumping in a jet is something you treat as a threat.
    Bodyguards should be moving to deal with that kinda behaviour, there is no reason for anybody to be innocently flying armed aircraft at you and nobody would honestly be stupid enough to do it if they weren’t expecting retaliation.

  • Thank you for your perspective.

    I agree the public lobbies can be frustrating. IMO this is more about the high-spend superweapons than the underlying game design.

    GTA Online’s public lobby is designed to be a potentially dog-eat-dog environment. And the lower levels of vehicles & weapons & missions are actually really well balanced, especially if you have a friend or two with you. But once ppl start using jets, tanks, and the last two years of game-breaking things like the Oppressor or explosive sniper rounds or advanced air vehicles, it goes to hell.

    Rockstar built an amazing online experience, then followed the money down some ridiculous paths. I know they can’t reset the game at this point, but if you magically removed every flying vehicle above a Buzzard, all advanced weapons beyond homing launcher/heavy sniper, and nerfed the GunRunning upgrades, the awesome game underneath might re-emerge.

  • Make a 24 hour game selection. One life every 24 hours. You play in that lobby and get wasted, you’re out for 24 hours until you can come back. One life would make people more careful. It won’t stop griefers, but it’d curb it.

    The only reason for all the griefing is there’s no consequences for your actions.

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