This is a bit of a shocker. Grand Theft Auto 5's multiplayer component is, in effect, a standalone experience, sold as part of the main game (which goes on sale 17th September) but not actually available till 1st October 2013.
"We want to give people an opportunity to actually get their heads around what's happened, because even single-player is a big advancement from the old games," Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies explained in a UK exclusive interview with CVG. "There's a lot of new things to learn."
Rockstar could have released the mode at launch, he went on, but wants players to get to grips with the single player first. "We could, but we want it to be known as a different entity, a separate thing, and it'll grow on its own. It'll be GTA Online; it's not part of GTA 5. Obviously it's set in the GTA 5 engine, but it's going to grow and evolve into its own thing."
The files for GTA Online will exist on the disc, Benzies added - once two weeks have passed, you'll download a "tiny" file to unlock them. "When it launches, you'll have an extra character on your Switch Wheel. Instead of choosing Franklin, Michael or Trevor, you'll select your multiplayer character and you'll be sucked straight in there."