Recently, Rockstar released a new update for GTA Online called the “Southern San Andreas Super Sport Series”, comprising of new cars, multiplayer versus modes, including races, deathmatches and stunts. With this, GTA has also been marked down to half price ($30) until the 2nd of April.

GTA 5 sits at a stable $60 AU on Steam off-sale and is the only point of entry to get into the GTA: Online experience.

Whilst an update with content and a price mark down is always welcome, GTA 5 is approaching its fifth year of Support from Rockstar, whilst sitting at a premium price when not on sale. Being one of the ten most reoccurring played games on steam, this can cause quite a stir.

This makes it difficult for gamers to get into the game at a surface level, and because of Valve’s return policy, coupled with the massive download size of GTA 5, it’s difficult for Australian consumers to get a taste of action.

The Game is constantly updated and is still being supported by Rockstar up to today and into the foreseeable future, despite Rockstar’s announcement of Read Dead Redemption II.

However, we’re 5 years into the update cycle for the game. It still runs off 2015-era graphics (after releasing on two generations of Consoles and later PC as a remaster), and since the release of the VIP’s update (Executives and Other Criminals), and the update model has taken a much different direction to that of other games.

Is it an MMO in 2018?

Normally I’d be one to praise divergent update models for games that have passed the two-year mark, however Rockstar has created an online platform and a multiplayer environment so hinged on Microtransactions and grinding comparable to an MMO that an entry level player is at an immediate, intense disadvantage that can tilt them and their experience to simply not enjoying themselves.

I’ve got a lot of experience with GTA Online, more than 500 Hours experience, at the very least, considering my PS3 play as well, so I’ve got no trouble getting on and playing the game – if you factor out the modders and hackers, which GTA Online has always had a problem with. And the User Interface that is still buggy and as cumbersome as ever.

When I justify my playtime on GTA Online, I consider that I treated it similarly to how I treated Runescape – I played it socially as a grindfest, working towards a foreseeable objective, however this game model goes so against the core sandbox nature of GTA – at least its traditional single player and expectations of what that’s meant to be.

It must be so easy for a new player to look at what hackers and modders are doing and to be like “They’re having fun, I want to have fun too”, and go on to run the risk of getting banned from the game, and to an extent I don’t blame them, simply because of the way Rockstar has structured the game.

To mitigate this from happening, Rockstar also sells the “Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack”, which gives players a jump start into GTA Online with content right out the front without having to grind for it immediately – this is 40 Dollars Extra. (It’s $30 right now because of the sale).

I can’t really reason with this – it’s so much money for such an old title.

What I’m getting at is the Grand Theft Auto Online game that was marketed in 2013 has become so divergent in style, presentation and execution that it’s almost an entirely different release.

The Concept

Here’s the original GTA Online Trailer.

Now, notice the shift in concept, here’s the Doomsday trailer, the last update to address the fan-lauded “heists”, a game objective that would reward players with heaps of money.

Some would consider this to be a shark jump, but what I’m trying to make out here is that none of the original things marketing GTA Online (Street races, deathmatches, survival mode) are even played by the community anymore.

Getting passed this, we can’t deny the quality of the updates – Rockstar knows what a good car looks like. Here’s my favourite, the Turismo Classic.

Image Credit to JoonasPRKL on the GTA Forums.

I’m not writing this to send pitchforks after Rockstar Entertainment, I’m writing this as a fan of the game that wants to see it live on and work in whatever the next GTA title is going to be, and I’m not sure how much more life you can breathe into this update model.

I’d encourage everyone to give it a go, but only on sale and if you have friends to play it with – and even then, play it like you’re going for 99 Runecrafting.