Following a rumour that Grand Theft Auto V’s upcoming online multiplayer component, dubbed Grand Theft Auto Online, would feature microtransactions, Rockstar Games has made the news official. Grand Theft Auto Online will indeed feature microtransactions, allowing players to pay real money for both in-game cash and other such incentives.
Rockstar was quick to stress that the microtransactions are purely optional, and are merely meant for players who want to receive cars, guns and other such bonuses even quicker. They also confirmed that virtual cash earned in Grand Theft Auto Online, and the things it purchases, cannot be transferred to one’s single-player file, or vice-versa. Finally, the company claimed that the in-game economy will be balanced in a way that doesn’t create pay walls for those who wish to ignore the microtransactions, and they don’t wish to create a pay-to-win scenario.
Nonetheless, we have our reservations. Microtransactions, much like on-disc DLC, have been received with pretty well universal disgust amongst gamers, and for good reason. They allow lazy and/or impatient players to bypass having to properly earn in-game incentives and rewards, slanting the playing field toward those with more disposable income. Recent console efforts like Gears of War: Judgment and Dead Space 3 attempted to incorporate microtransactions earlier this year, and predictably, fans of both franchises reacted quite negatively to the decision, largely for the aforementioned reason.
While the microtransactions in Grand Theft Auto Online are not mandatory by any stretch, their very principle allows online players easy access to gear and goodies that they have not properly earned through in-game sessions. This does indeed give an advantage to people with cash to burn during competitive play, and sure enough, fans reacted to the decision with scorn and hatred. This was exacerbated by Grand Theft Auto V’s immense success at retail, raking in a cool billion dollars in sales for Rockstar, even after just three days, leaving fans to wonder why Rockstar needs to bleed extra money out of its fanbase.
Rockstar further defends the decision however by claiming that they are operating under the assumption that most players will not spend real-world money on the microtransactions (then why have them?), and that players can earn in-game cash faster in Grand Theft Auto Online than they can in Grand Theft Auto V’s main single-player mode. They can do this between stick-ups, street races, heists, and various other activities. These declarations did little to placate angry fans however, who still feel that Rockstar, a game maker that is quite well off in terms of both critical and commercial success between its various games throughout this generation, has no right to try and demand added fees after the initial purchase of a game that is doing extremely well already.
Despite attempts to soften what they knew would be an ill-received decision, Rockstar was also honest about something else; Grand Theft Auto Online can expect technical issues when it first launches. Rockstar has said out of the gate that bugs, crashes and server issues are inevitable in the early days of the multiplayer component, and thanks fans in advance for their patience.
Despite the controversy over this news, Grand Theft Auto V continues to be one of the most critically and commercially successful console titles of this entire hardware generation, even less than a month after release. The game is currently single-player-only, but will offer Grand Theft Auto Online as a free multiplayer mode for up to sixteen simultaneous players, starting on October 1st. Its 2008 predecessor, Grand Theft Auto IV, offered an online multiplayer mode right on the disc from the launch of the game, onward.
Grand Theft Auto V is currently available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While not planned for a PC release at this point, a petition on change.org demanding Rockstar release a PC version of the game has reached 500,000 signatures, and counting. The previous Grand Theft Auto IV eventually did receive a PC version, though it launched many months after its original Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions.
Despite rumours to the contrary, Rockstar also claims that Grand Theft Auto V is not, and never was, in consideration for the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. They claim that the game was meant to max out the capabilities of current-gen consoles, as well as take advantage of their large install base of players. Thus, Rockstar’s current stance is that releasing the game on next-gen consoles doesn’t make any sense.
Given that Grand Theft Auto V is already making tons of money on current-gen consoles, and supporting microtransactions in its online mode on top of that, we have to say that we agree, though we would certainly support a PC release!
For more news and updates on Grand Theft Auto V, and the Grand Theft Auto franchise at large, keep targeting Eggplante!