OpenAI has placed a temporary ban on new sign-ups for ChatGPT Plus following a surge in demand for the service.
ChatGPT Plus is the $20 per month premium version of the chatbot. It includes a host of extra features, including the recently added GPTs—personalized chatbots that are focused on a specific task, such as teaching you how to play chess or negotiating better business deals.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman claims a surge in usage of the service since the launch of GPTs and other new features announced at its recent developer conference has forced the company to act.
“We are pausing new ChatGPT Plus sign-ups for a bit,” Altman tweeted, appending an unhappy face emoji to his message. “The surge in usage post devday has exceeded our capacity and we want to make sure everyone has a great experience. You can still sign-up to be notified within the app when subs reopen.”
There has certainly been a recent uptick in server failures over the past fortnight, since the launch of GPTs. Several times in the past few days, the service has failed to complete answers on my own ChatGPT Plus account, blaming a network error.
Many other users have complained of similar problems on social media. “ChatGPT has been overloaded for the past 1 week or so,” wrote X user Petri Kuittinen.
“This can lead to multiple different things just failing due timeouts [sic] and instead of getting a proper error message, we get ‘Something went wrong’. What's the point of not giving more descriptive error messages?”
Others have made similar complaints and reverted to older versions of ChatGPT to make the service work smoothly. “Is ChatGPT slow for you? Getting ‘Network Error’ too much?” wrote Rob Jackson on X.
“I've been flipping from ChatGPT-4 back to ChatGPT-3.5 an awful lot the past few days,” Jackson added. “It's suppperrrr fast and often good enough (at least while the GPT-4 & CustomGPTs work out the growing/scaling pains).”
One of the advantages of paying for a ChatGPT Plus subscription is supposed to be guaranteed availability, with the free version of the chatbot often unavailable at times of peak demand. OpenAI is clearly hoping to head off customer unrest by preventing an influx of new customers disrupting performance any further.
The decision to close the door on new customers comes just days after Altman gave an interview to the Financial Times in which he admitted the company needs new investment to pay for the punishingly high costs of operating and training ChatGPT.
Altman said he hoped long-term partner Microsoft would continue to invest in OpenAI, adding to the $10 billion the software giant has already pumped into the AI firm.
“There’s a long way to go, and a lot of compute to build out between here and AGI... training expenses are just huge,” Altman told the FT, referring to the concept of artificial general intelligence, in which AI capabilities match and surpass that of human beings.