GTA Online shutting down on PS3 and Xbox 360

It was bound to happen sooner or later, and we've known for a while now that the shutdown is looming - but now we have a date, and it's soon.

This has been a long time coming, but even so it seems a little bit surreal - Rockstar Games announced back in the summer that GTA Online on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will shut down, and now we've got a hard deadline. The servers will go dark on the 16th of December, bringing the longest era in the game's history to a close.

Grand Theft Auto 5 launched on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 back in 2013, and was followed shortly by the launch of GTA Online, the game's attached semi-MMO multiplayer mode. The title would go on to achieve shocking degrees of success with Online's popularity ballooning vastly beyond what the developers expected.

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In the years since, the experience has grown in different ways. Constant additions of free DLC ensured that the virtual world would never be without fresh content, and as GTA 5 jumped to newer platforms so did Online, opening it up to visual and technical improvements as well as new audiences.

To be fair, GTA Online on these first two platforms has practically been on life support for years now. Actual new content stopped being added due to technical limitations in 2015, and character transfers from these platforms were ceased in 2017. In the meantime, the newer platforms recieved a ton of game-changing new updates, and now GTA Online is soon to go standalone.

It's likely that the decision to take GTA Online offline on these platforms comes from a lack of the game's ability to pay for its upkeep on PS3 and Xbox 360 - most players would have transferred or just started anew on the newer platforms, and the main source of revenue from Online is microtransactions. With nothing new to spend on since 2015, just about everyone has everything at this point.

GTA Online has been a dominant force on the multiplayer scene for years.

At the same time, GTA 5 is getting another extension on its lifespan as the Expanded and Enhanced port will bring it to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S next March. While the game is currently playable on these platforms, it is a compatible version of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One releases - the new port will boast extra content and expanded functionality.

The biggest change however is Online going standalone, as mentioned before. This is likely a preparatory move to set the stage for GTA 6, whenever it arrives, as there is no sign that Online in its current form is slowing down anytime soon. Rockstar is better off keeping it alive and standalone than trying to replicate the success with an "Online 2" tacked onto GTA 6.

The GTA Online servers on Xbox 360 and PS3 shut down on December 16, 2021.

Aron Gerencser
Gaming at least as long as he's been walking, Aron is a fan of all things sci-fi and lover of RPGs. Having written about games for years, he's right at home reporting most of the breaking news in the industry and covering the happenings of the e-sports world. Graduating summa cum laude from Università degli Studi Guglielmo Marconi with a BA in Media Production, Aron has been a game journalist since 2014. When not writing, editing or playing, Aron is building models which you can find on Instagram.
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