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GTA Online: show us the money

Friday, 8th August 2014 12:36 GMT By Patrick Garratt

How about some double-cash events, Rockstar? GTA Online’s stinginess is causing discontent in its community.

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GTA Online may hand out levels like pot at a blotter party, but it’s a certifiable thrift. Money is hard to come by.

GTA Online’s community always asks for money. Lower-leveled players such as myself and Matt were high-fiving in number-ascending anticipation when the latest double RP weekend was announced, but those who’ve been grinding away for the past year couldn’t care less. A great many are ranked over 100 (some are so far over it’s absurd) and unlocks end soon after that. RP means nothing to them, and the comments on articles about the event were always the same: show us the money, Rockstar.

GTA Online may hand out levels like pot at a blotter party, but it’s a certifiable thrift. Money is hard to come by. You’ll get a few thousand for doing well in a mission or race, or for assassinating a player marked with a bounty, but these are token gestures in a world where an attack chopper costs $1.75 million, a nice apartment will set you back $500,000 and tricking out even a basic car can easily cost you $200,000.

Being able to play with GTA Online’s more overpowered hardware comes one of two ways. The preferred option is to grind (and you really will have to – in nearly 40 hours of play I’ve earned a little less than $600,000 from jobs), but you can also buy your way to the top. Unless you’re prepared to put in many hundreds of hours, you’re going to be forking out.

The inclusion of microtransactions in GTA Online has created a pressured situation where currency matters. Players are able to buy Shark Cards through both console stores and brick-and-mortar retailers, but dollars cost dollars. The Red Shark card, for example, grants $100,000 in-game and costs £1.99/$2.99. The Great White card gives you $1.25 million and costs £13.49/$19.99. That won’t even buy you a rocket-equipped helicopter. If you really want to skirt the sweat and sort yourself out with a Titan cargo plane and an Annihilator chopper with its four miniguns, you can shell out £64.99/$99.99 for the Megalodon Shark card. $8 million goes a long way in Los Santos.

Maybe this is GTA Online’s final irony, that it’s unwittingly replicated not only the physical machinations of contemporary society gone wrong, but also its collapsing capitalism.

And so it should. That’s $100. Obviously this makes sense to Rockstar, but it leaves the game and its community in something of a fiscal limbo. Money can’t be easy lest it devalue the microtransactions (an illusory term in this case), but those who’ve invested hundreds of hours are left feeling short-changed. There’s a sense of bitterness from players now when Rockstar announces its inarguably splendid DLC. Take the Independence Day update. The Liberator monster truck is truly stupid, a thing any self-respecting idiot would want to own and a great addition to the game. Unfortunately, it was priced at $742,014, and many felt Rockstar was simply cashing in. There’s a note of “pricey” from the forums every time new content’s introduced. It’s always there. People feel poor.

Maybe this is GTA Online’s final irony, that it’s unwittingly replicated not only the physical machinations of contemporary society gone wrong, but also its collapsing capitalism. Rockstar clamps down on thieves in a game where thievery is an objective, thus becoming itself the concept it sought to mock. How meta. Pontification doesn’t matter to the hard-done-by players, of course: the poor will always be the poor, but hopefully Heists will bring new ways to get rich.

Short of that, couldn’t we at least has some double-cash events in the meantime? The masses are starting to show their discontent.

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