Launch of Gunrunning DLC Begs the Question; Is GTA Online Simply Too Expensive?

GTA Online offers some of the most ludicrously fun experiences available in gaming. I don’t think that anyone who has spent more than a few hours playing it can objectively deny that. Rockstar Games has crafted an immensely effective formula that is designed to maintain player engagement years after the game originally launched. It has been so successful, in fact, that even Rockstar remains surprised at its longevity.

Rather than rely on paid DLC expansions, like most other multiplayer titles have done for years, Rockstar has released every single content update for GTA Online for free. There’s some great stuff to be explored in these expansions, and they’ve gotten better with time too.

The Import/Export DLC brought with it an assortment of wild rides that completely changed the way players cruise around Los Santos. Vehicles like the Ruiner 2000 (think KITT from Knight Rider) and the Rocket Voltic provide ample opportunities for vehicular chaos while rampaging through the city.

Likewise, the latest addition to GTA Online, titled Gunrunning, introduces a myriad of new upgradeable death machines and weapon enhancements. They’re designed to maximize the carnage and fun by providing diverse tools to tackle any situation; be they during missions or free roam. Check out what you can do with the new rocket-powered gliding motorcycle, the Oppressor, courtesy of Reddit user Marteeeeene:

Getting so much new content for free, however, comes with one hell of a catch. All of these incredibly awesome toys are also incredibly expensive. That’s by design. Each update has proven more expensive than the last, meaning that GTA Online routinely experiences the virtual equivalent to real-world inflation. Bet you didn’t expect ten years ago that you’d need to conduct periodic cost/value analyses when playing a video game, huh?

On the surface, it all makes sense. Rockstar provides these content drops at no cost because they’re hoping you’ll want to spend some money on Shark Cards (an in-game currency system paid for using real money) to gain access to all of the new stuff. The problem is realized when you begin to do a little math.

Let’s use the game’s latest update, Gunrunning, as an example. In order to minimize the cost of purchasing the new vehicles that came with the DLC, you’ll first need to complete their associated contract missions. Otherwise, you’re paying a premium to bypass this step. In the long run, it’s cheaper to do the missions, so we’ll assume that they’re a given.

In order to even access the missions, you’ll need to be a CEO or the owner of a Motorcycle Club. You’ll need an office or a clubhouse too. We’ll assume you already have access to all that. Next, you’ll need to purchase a Bunker. The least expensive choice will run you $1,165,000. Then, you’ll need to buy a Mobile Operations Center. That’s going to cost a minimum of $1,225,000.

With me so far? Okay. So, rather than list every single vehicle individually, I’m just going to give you the total cost to buy them all. Remember, this is after the prices have been significantly reduced thanks to running the missions for a discount. Ready? $13,020,000. I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

So far, that means you’ll need a minimum of $15,410,000 in GTA Online in order to get the basic models of every new vehicle that is currently available. On top of that lofty sum, there are also many upgrades available for these vehicles. If you pay to expedite all of the research for those, it’ll cost you about $10 million more. There’s also the new Mk II upgrades for several weapons. Oh, and the new clothing and accessories as well.

What does this add up to in the end? Well, it can vary based on a number of factors but you’re looking at anywhere between $30 million to $40 million to get basic access to all the Gunrunning content.

What’s the big deal, then? So, you have to grind for a while to get all the cool stuff—so what? If you don’t want to do it, you can just buy Shark Cards, right? Sure. You can certainly buy Shark Cards, rather than spending months grinding out all the cash necessary to experience the new content. That’ll be $500 please, and thank you.

Yeah. Shark cards are insanely expensive. The best value available is the aptly named Megalodon Shark Card, which will give you $8,000,000 of GTA Online currency for $99.99 of your real money. You’d need to buy five of them to sink your teeth into the meat of the DLC.

Okay, so that’s crazy and clearly meant for rich people. So, let’s just grind for the cash in-game. I’ll hop into my helicopter and run an import mission. Then I’ll export the highest tier cars for a quick $100,000—easy.

I just hope there’s nobody who swoops in with a Buzzard attack helicopter to destroy my vehicle in transit. Oh; I’ll also have to wait for a mandatory 20-minute cooldown between deliveries. I can’t exit the game either, or else the cooldown will pause until I’m online again.

Rockstar has gone out of their way to impede your already slow progress as well. They want you to buy Shark Cards—that’s clear as the day is long—and minding your own business in empty lobbies to grind an income is not something they want you doing.

Other players are encouraged to attack your transport business—not that they needed a reason—which is required to be conducted in free roam. If that’s not enough, NPCs with aimbot levels of accuracy are ever-present to interfere with your transactions, and, should you find yourself in an empty lobby, their presence can be felt all the more fiercely. Also, at any given moment, your stockpile of illicit goods can be raided or stolen too, rendering all the patience and effort you put into acquiring them completely moot.

At the end of the day—when all’s said and done—it’s not impossible to earn cash in GTA Online. It’s just incredibly, prohibitively time-consuming. Some days are better than others, depending on the kind of players you run into. Usually, though, you’re lucky to walk away with a cool $300k for each hour you spend grinding. At that rate, it’ll only take you about 134 hours to come up with the amount you’ll need.

I suppose that what I’m getting at is this: Rockstar Games and their publisher 2K Games simply don’t respect our time. If I wasn’t clear previously, I want to say that they’ve crafted a masterpiece in GTA Online, and it’s home to some of the best experiences to be had in multiplayer gaming. I just wish they recognized that our time is just as valuable as theirs. We made GTA 5 one of the most successful games in history; it’s the least they could do.

Shawn Gallagher

Shawn Gallagher

Shawn Gallagher has been a gamer his entire life. Other features Shawn's possessed his entire life include being a: geek, nerd, fanboy, artist, writer, editor, and a glutton. Through these powers combined--well...he's no Captain Planet, but he can certainly share his knowledge with others using at least one of those traits.
Shawn Gallagher
1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Robb July 2, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    Shawn I completely 100% agree with everything you had to say about GTA online, and if anything you underestimated the amount of money and time you have to spend to get those things. I have been playing GTA online since the very beginning and have already begrudgingly spent a few hundred real dollars of my hard earned money to be able to participate in all of the DLC’s, and wasted hundreds of hours grinding, which is even more difficult when you have to do it without a group of friends to help you do it. And even more difficult as you pointed out, while other groups of online friends are trying to stop you or are griefing you, or while the hackers are trashing you. Quite frankly it sometimes takes hours just to find a decent lobby, to even be able to grind in. The only way to grind without getting harassed is thru the contact missions or the heists, which we all know is nearly impossible when it comes to contact missions, as for thing one they take can take a while to complete and then even the highest paying ones only payout about 20k, and then you would have to grind only those highest paying ones over and over again, which is mind numbingly boring. And at that pay rate would take maybe thousands of hours. Because one thing people never take into account is the incredible amount of ammunition you have to use to complete any missions in GTA online and how incredibly expensive that ammo is. Not to mention how many times you are inevitably going to fail those missions, due to as you mentioned the aimbot level AI in the game. And with Heists it can be even worse as far as wasting time and ammo, sure the payout is much better, but unless you have a pro heist “full” team of buddies (you need 4 people at all time or else the heist fails) who never leave and have the exact amount of time you do to do the heists (which is never the case lets be honest), then its pretty much pointless trying to do heists, otherwise you end up spending more time and failing them over and over, thereby wasting time and not even getting any money. All in all the only real way to get the new DLC’s is to spend real dollars on them, and at the exorbitant prices they charge unless you have money to burn and plenty of free time in my opinion you never really get your money’s worth. And although the gunrunning DLC does look to be one of the best DLC’s so far, I’m kind of at my wits end with GTA onlines high prices, and dont plan on wasting anymore of my money on them. As far as i’m concerned they need to cut there prices WAY down and raise the amount you get off doing missions WAY higher before I would even consider jumping back in, i’m kind of thru with GTA online honestly at this point over all their greediness, I mean how many billions of dollars of OUR hard earned money does rockstar actually need at this point on a game that is nearly 4 years old now. Obviously they have to continue to make money on the game to continue supporting it, but the prices and time wasting is extremely to high in my opinion, and its not just my opinion. I haven’t spoken to one single person in all my years of playing GTA online that thinks the prices are fair or even reasonable. Quite frankly i’m shocked that the community puts up with it, and hasn’t already started petitions complain about rockstars money grabbing policies. Anyhow Shawn thank you so much for writing this article and pointing this out, you are saying the things we are ALL thinking about the game. And if things are ever going to change, more people need to speak out and unite together against rockstars unfair policies!

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