Thu, Mar 18th 2021 07:58pm - Timothy Geigner

When it comes to how the video game industry interacts with modding communities, it can be frustrating just how often companies see modders as a menace. Nintendo has a long, long history of treating mods as a threat to its control, but it is certainly not alone. But modding by and large is not a threat to game makers. Actually, it’s a boon. Mods tend to make games more interesting to more people and can often lengthen the lifecycle of a particular game.

And sometimes a mod can simply fix a game. That is what a coder, going by the name t0st, did for the long loading times in Grand Theft Auto Online.

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that a Grand Theft Auto Online player sick of the game’s notoriously long load times took matters into his own hands, broke out the disassembler, and crafted his own fix. The long load times were due to the inefficient way that the GTA Online developers chose to parse and then sort the data in a large multi-megabyte JSON file.

Everybody knows JSON is SLOW.

The fix—created by a coder known as t0st—resulted in a 70-ish percent decrease in loading times, going by t0st’s own informal benchmarks. For players suffering from the JSON parsing issue, this means that they only have to wait perhaps one or two minutes to enter a GTA Online game, rather than the six-plus minutes they were previously stuck watching the loading screen.

Now, it’s easy to see how Rockstar Games could have handled this poorly. The company could have chosen to feel embarrassed by this modder fixing its product. It could have simply seen a change in coding for its game through a mod as a threat. It could have claimed that all of this was unauthorized and therefore copyright infringement.

Instead, Rockstar reached out to t0st, reviewed his work, and paid him for it.

In the two weeks since t0st’s fix was made public, GTA Online developer Rockstar got in contact with t0st and acknowledged that t0st had indeed fixed a legitimate issue with the game and that he’d be receiving a $10,000 payment under Rockstar’s bug bounty program.

It’s worth noting that there is no indication t0st did this work because of the bounty program. He or she appears to simply be a fan of the game but not the loading times. By not seeing everything through a prism of control, Rockstar got its game fixed.

All of this serves as a reminder that the biggest fans of good content can be the biggest contributors to that content in ways that mean more interest and sales for the game. If you let them.

Filed Under: bug bounty, gta, gta online t0st, modders, supportCompanies: rockstar