As we kick off 2018, the world of gaming seems to be changing in a way that, when Grand Theft Auto was first created, would have seemed almost impossible. Indeed, while GTA may have started as a 2D game with far less interest in the funny side of the game, and a bit more of a focus on the controversial "car stealing and running down people" elements, the biggest change has not been the introduction of 3D or the ability to enjoy exploring a wider gaming world - a sandbox game, in other words. But actually the more recent introduction of an element of freemium gaming is even more of an important change, in our opinion.

In fact, such has the backlash been against the idea of GTA joining titles like Clash of Clans and even Candy Crush in terms of having a freemium model, that Rockstar has had to specifically state that the ability to purchase in-game cash isn't designed purely to provide a quick leg-up to the best weapons and cars straight away. Reputation points will still need to be earned rather than paid for by what some will see as truly dirty money.

Taking the Fun Out of the Fun Parts of the Game?

Perhaps, though, the best way to see the new cash changes is in rather a more positive light. Rather than simply meaning that players without cash have to passively watch the results of others' successful heists and money-making missions, the freemium change that allows you to buy cash means that players can properly take part in the game and boost themselves even when their gaming skills are low (or when you need some serious weaponry to take on a new heist). It's not even like huge sums of cash are required in order to pull off these boosts; this really isn't one of those times you wish you'd won the £44million Euromillions jackpot, the $40million Powerball jackpot, or even the $45million Mega Millions jackpot, all of which are available for betting on from the same portal courtesy of sites like In fact, exactly as such lotteries are based on luck, so are many pre-existing elements of GTA, such as loot drops, enemy spawns, cash rewards and so on - which will still be acquirable by players regardless of whether they're interested in paying for in-game items.

On the theme of lotteries, however, perhaps Rockstar could be tempted to introduce a lottery-type feature in the game itself so that players can try and win some of the new content without having to spend much of their own cash, but instead spending small amounts of in-game money to try and win big money back. GTA already features other chance games, so this wouldn't really be a big jump or a development that causes any sort of concern amongst fans. 

In summary, of course driving around in a pimped-up vehicle listening to newly added radio stations and considering heists is always going to be a big part of the world of GTA online, but what the ability to buy money does is cut to the chase, stopping you needing to do a big heist in order to buy cool gear and helping you skip what many perceive to be the fun parts of nitty gritty gameplay, even if for many they represent the nuts and bolts of playing GTA.

What Lies Ahead?

Perhaps the most interesting element of the freemium addition to the world of GTA online is what it means for other titles that are on the horizon in the gaming world. Will, for example, the eagerly anticipated Red Dead Redemption 2 have more elements that can only be accessed with the injection of real money, or will online gamers just have the chance to enjoy being able to boost themselves with money when they need it?

Should Rockstar and other companies start charging more and more money for online gaming in addition to the charges gamers face when buying the game as well as playing on Xbox or PlayStation online, it could well turn out to be a move that goes too far, perhaps seeing gamers happier just sticking to free titles that are pure freemium gaming rather than a hybrid between the two. Whatever ends up happening, watch this space for more updates and we'll keep you in the loop! 

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Last Updated: Jan 12, 2018

About The Author

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James, a lifelong gamer, is a freelance writer who occasionally contributes to Ten Ton Hammer.