The Epic Game Store has been giving games away for several years now, but this is the first time a giveaway has brought the store down that I can remember.
Epic has been working its way up to an unannounced free game drop at 11 AM this morning, but a leak last night confirmed GTA V was on the way. By 11:05 AM, the website had swamped as people flooded the service to snap up the title. Epic has acknowledged this in a tweet about the situation:
We are currently experiencing high traffic on the Epic Games Store.
We are aware that users may be encountering slow loading times, 500 errors, or launcher crashing at this time and we are actively working to scale. We’ll provide an update as soon as we can.
— Epic Games Store (@EpicGames) May 14, 2020
Which is a little odd, if you think about it. GTA V turns seven this year. It’s been released on multiple platforms. Most people own it already, if they want to own it at all. The surge in traffic for the Epic Game Store has apparently been intense enough that it has actually created issues for related Epic services like Epic Battle Breakers and Fortnite.
If you can’t get on the EGS to pick up your copy of the game, don’t worry — it’s going to be free through May 21. Despite the controversy between EGS and Steam, evidently enough gamers are willing to adopt the EGS to crash it when they flood the service looking for free titles. And while people might rationalize the download as a way to get a legitimately AAA title for free, from Epic’s perspective, once it has a spot on your SSD, it’s got a spot on your SSD. No matter what happens afterward, you at least installed the Epic Game Store once.
It isn’t clear which edition of the game Epic is giving away, however, because nobody can log in to check. Rumors ran wild on this point, with some implying Epic would give away the “latest premium edition with additional content.” At the very least, the rumor is that this represents the complete title, not just a front-end for accessing either the single-player campaign or GTA Online.
Epic, one has to note, is having something of a banner week. First, Tim Sweeney’s company wowed the internet with the new PS5 demo built on Unreal Engine 5. Now the EGS has broken down under the weight of Grand Theft Audio, which puts Epic news front-and-center before PC gamers who might not have cared about the console announcement. Granted, one of those events is a bit more prestigious than the other, but the company still managed to rank in both on consecutive days.