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"Grand Theft Auto Online" will join a growing list of obsolete games on older platforms this December when Rockstar Game shuts down the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.

Why it matters: Video game preservation is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to video games, physical or otherwise.

  • While some video games are forever lost due to physical degradation, as with cartridges or discs, others disappear when data files are corrupted or lost.

Online games require support from the developers who make them, meaning they’re bound to stop running when companies take on new projects. 

  • “It's inevitable that all online games will eventually shut down,” games preservationist and Digital Eclipse editorial director Chris Kohler told Axios. 
  • While fans can sometimes revive old games, it’s difficult to recreate the original circumstances of how they were played. Kohler says documenting these games as they were played at their peak is crucial. 
  • “What you want are videos, screenshots, diaries, interviews, contemporary magazine coverage — anything that gives you information about what the experience of these games was when they were most vibrant and relevant,” he said.

Rockstar's decision to shut down online services for these two consoles is part of its preparation for enhanced versions of "Grand Theft Auto V" and "Grand Theft Auto Online" on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S.

  • It's a testament to the popularity of "GTA Online" that the game, which launched in 2013 for PS3 and Xbox 360, has remained functional for so long.
  • Continued updates have kept sales of "GTA V" have remained up for years, with 2019 marking a high point for the game.
  • Re-releases and backwards compatibility can help preserve those experiences on current platforms. In the case of "GTA Online," the game spans three console generations.
  • The shutdown will not affect the game's story mode or save progress, and the PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions will still run.

Between the lines: The end of PS3 and Xbox 360 games is here.

  • Rockstar is also ending online services for "Max Payne 3" and "L.A. Noire" later this year.
  • Earlier this month, Electronic Arts pulled five "Need for Speed" games with online functionality.

What's next: An enhanced version of "Grand Theft Auto V" and "GTA Online" will launch for PS5 and Xbox Series X/S Nov. 11.

Go deeper

Sep 23, 2021 - Axios Twin Cities

Why Instagram ads, billboards are reminding you to lock your car

Image: Instagram

Has your Instagram tapping surfaced ads reminding you to lock your car lately? You're not alone.

What's happening: The Minnesota Department of Commerce's Fraud Bureau partnered with the Hennepin and Ramsey county attorneys to launch a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing auto theft.

  • "Keep your car safe from thieves by parking in well-lit areas, always locking the doors and taking the key or FOB," one version of the black-and-yellow social posts reads.
  • New billboards on major roads, including Hiawatha and I-94, carry similar warnings.

Why it matters: Having your car stolen sucks! But auto thefts also impact the economy as a whole, when insurance companies pass on the cost of repair, replacement and claim processing to consumers in the form of higher premiums.

Details: Commerce doled out about $67,000 to the two county attorney offices to pay for the campaign, which also includes bus ads.

  • The department plans to expand the campaign to Greater Minnesota later this year.

Between the lines: Locking your car may sound like a basic reminder, but forgotten keys and unsecured doors are big drivers of auto thefts.

  • Commerce's 2019-2020 auto thefts report estimates that 60% of cars stolen in the metro were taken after the owner left the keys inside.
  • While the vast majority (93%) of vehicles stolen in jurisdictions participating in a state theft prevention initiative were recovered, many were damaged, again increasing costs.

The bottom line: St. Paul Police Department spokesman Steve Linders told Torey that these "crimes of opportunity" are especially common in the winter, when many of us leave our cars running to warm them up on chilly days."

  • We had a case a few years back that involved a woman stealing a running, unattended vehicle and driving it to the airport," he recalled. "She was arrested at the gate."
25 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Tax season nightmare ahead for understaffed IRS

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The IRS will start accepting 2021 tax returns in less than a week, and the filing delays and administrative headaches to come might eclipse last year — which was “one of the worst filing seasons," according to an independent advocacy agency within the IRS.

Why it matters: For taxpayers, especially with complex or paper filings, this means headaches, delayed refunds, and mistakes.