GTA Online is designed for single-player first - despite originally being multiplayer-focused

Lester sitting at a computer in some artwork for GTA Online
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

The developers behind GTA Online have shifted focus to design quests for just 1-2 players, and they say the experience is all the better for it.

Talking to GamesRadar+ as part of a broader discussion on GTA Online's longevity, design director Scott Butchard explained why the game is primarily being developed to ensure the single-player experience is up to snuff before adding multiplayer elements. According to Butchard, GTA Online was originally designed to be played with other people, but everything really clicked after changing gears to appeal more toward solo players.

"Looking back, at the start we were pushing GTA Online primarily as a multiplayer experience – whether it was cooperative or competitive, we felt we needed to get players in and have fun playing together in a shared space," said Butchard. "As time went on, we realized so much of the experience works better when we provide more potential to enjoy the game on an individual level, and that the core experience can then be changed and improved upon by playing with others."

Of course, the game is still called GTA Online, which means social aspects are baked into its foundation, but it sounds like Butchard considers those elements are auxiliary to the core experience, which is now being optimized for 1-2 players.

"We started to really hit our stride when we began designing Heists to be playable with just one or two players, then building on the original experience with social spaces like the Nightclubs, or the Casino – spaces that could act as connective tissue for our players jumping from experience to experience, either with a Crew or solo."

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Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.