Grand Theft Auto V's highly anticipated multiplayer mode -- a persistent online world where players can form gangs, own their own property, and complete new heists -- doesn't open to the public until October 1. But developer Rockstar Games' own Web site, combined with firsthand accounts from those with early access to the game mode, has revealed that controversial microtransactions will play a part in Grand Theft Auto Online, reports Eurogamer.
Buried in a publicly viewable XML file on Rockstar's GTA site, first discovered by Reddit on Tuesday, were images revealing in-game cash cards that were likely to fit into the series' first-ever implementation of financial add-ons, discounting GTA IV's two episodes of downloadable content.
The process of making players pay incrementally for unnecessary features that allow other users to unfairly advance is a tactic despised by the hardcore gaming community, despite its rampant proliferation in mobile titles like Candy Crush.
Developer Blizzard recently went so far as to announce that it will shut down its entire real money auction house in the title Diablo 3 due to complaints that a "pay to win" strategy was tarnishing the game's overall quality.
After getting in touch with a source who has early access to the multiplayer mode, Eurogamer confirmed the various prices for each of GTA Online's cash cards, in pounds. For $100,000 of in-game currency, players can cough up 1.99 pounds ($3.20), while $200,000 will cost 3.49 pounds, and $500,000 will cost 6.99 pounds. For $1.25 million of in-game cash, players may pay 13.49 pounds, or $21.69. That means for roughly one-third the price of the entire game, Rockstar will make you a virtual millionaire.
And what will that dough be able to buy you? Eurogamer also confirmed that prices in GTA Online will not be as inflated as in the game's story mode. So while some properties in the game can easily surpass the million-dollar mark, the most expensive house in the game's online world will run you only $400,000. Also, players can only own one property at a time, a feature that may discourage the mass spending of real-world money to scoop up as much in-game property as possible.
Still, fans are not too pleased at this announcement. Some commenters on the article and on Reddit have let loose a deluge of criticism at Rockstar and publisher Take-Two Interactive, calling the duo greedy and comparing the move to the highly controversial business tactics of Electronic Arts, a publisher whose reputation is now thought by some to be synonymous with microtransactions despite its attempts to walk back on its stance.
Rockstar published an update Wednesday that confirmed the in-game cash purchasing, writing, "You can either quickly accumulate cash through profitable activities...or if you're the completely instant gratification type, you can choose to buy denominations of GTA$. You will have the option to purchase GTA$ through the in-game Store."
The company claims that its economy has "been designed and balanced for the vast majority of players who will not buy extra cash," adding that the economy is balanced differently from the single player one and that cash can be earned much faster in online mode than in story mode.