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Epic Games Store back online after 12-hour GTA 5-related outage

‘We are currently experiencing high traffic on the Epic Games Store’

artwork of GTA 5’s Trevor sitting on an ATV while holding a gun Image: Rockstar Games
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

The Epic Games Store went offline on Thursday morning as users anticipating the launch of Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto 5 for free on the platform overloaded its servers. News of the game’s free release leaked early on Wednesday on the Epic Games Store Twitter account.

The website and launcher both went down just before 11 a.m. EDT, when the Premium Edition of the game for Windows PC was scheduled to go live. “We are currently experiencing high traffic on the Epic Games Store,” Epic Games said on Twitter.

“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.”

The high traffic appears to have also knocked the Fortnite servers offline, with issues impacting “Launcher logins and in-game purchases,” according to a tweet from the Fortnite Status account.

Just after 11 p.m. EDT — more than 12 hours from the initial outage — Epic reported that its Launcher and website were back online. An update from the Fortnite Status account at 8:25 p.m. EDT confirmed that these issues have been resolved, too.

“We’ve deployed updates to provide resolution for these issues, and most users should be able to access the Epic Games Store and Launcher at this time,” Epic tweeted. “We’ll continue to monitor traffic and provide updates if further issues are encountered. Thank you for your continued patience!”

Despite being six and a half years old, GTA 5 is clearly still popular. It goes beyond just the game being available for free, too: 2019 was one of Rockstar Games’ best sales years for GTA 5. GTA 5 was initially released in September 2013 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and again in 2014 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In 2015, it came to Windows PC. With the PC launch, the game found a new audience with the modding scene and in Grand Theft Auto Online. The game’s popularity on Twitch ballooned in the past year with role-playing servers in GTA Online.

GTA Online’s influence extended beyond its own servers recently, when an in-game war between green and purple aliens took over YouTube and TikTok. GTA 5’s online communities are wonderfully weird (though sometimes terrible) and it’s no wonder folks are eager to dive into them.

Update (May 15): The Epic Games Store is back online. We’ve updated this story to reflect this information.

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