Just go with me on this one.
I like to try to read the tea leaves now and again, so it's hard for me not to look at the current situation with Grand Theft Auto Online and try to connect a few scattered dots.
When I do connect them a previously hazy picture begins to take form: that of a separate online entity for Grand Theft Auto . Let's take a look at the facts surrounding this curious case thus far.
It has its own title, Grand Theft Auto Online . While this is not unheard of ( Metal Gear Online ) it is a rarity. Most games including Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV, Max Payne 3 , and Red Dead Redemption simply had their own online component rolled into it without a separate designation. At first that's what we assumed would be the case for GTAV, but GTAO has its own artwork and presence.
The online part of GTAV was set to debut a bit after the main game, which meant it would likely get its own separate reviews from news sites. Clearly that little bit of extra time wasn't enough to have made the difference in the server load, so why was it done that way?
Then we learned that the online portion would include microtransactions in the form of real cash for game cash. While this is a great way for a company to make money, it typically catches some hell from gamers unless it is part of an MMO strategy that makes business sense for a long-term product.
The initial online rollout went kaflooey and the microtransactions got put on hold. While perhaps this is just another case of too many people overloading the servers, the continuing problems make me wonder if something else is going on. Is the whole online system, having been built during this lengthy period between GTAIV and GTAV actually much bigger than we can see? Does it include the framework for a bigger online experience which complicates making the core online experience function properly?
Finally, I noted that on the Playstation Network it says something kind of strange in the ticker about GTAO : “Now Free With Purchase Of Grand Theft Auto V.” Since when is the online component to a game you bought marketed as “free”? Do they know something we don't yet?
I may just be over thinking things as usual but I wouldn't be surprised at all if Grand Theft Auto Online moved past GTAV and became its own entity. They could charge a separate fee for it, have a small monthly cost, or go free to play with it as a service that makes money through microtransactions. If there was a fee for those without GTAV then all you'd have to do to waive that would be to buy the latest GTA game because they aren't going to stop making them. Perhaps each game would give you access to its city and you'd have to buy access to the others or buy the next game to get into and move between the various cities.
In this scenario Grand Theft Auto Online both avoids the pitfalls of debuting as a controversial MMO product and funnels GTA fans into a new product without their even being aware of it. It also allows GTAO to retain the potential to grow to include all past and future GTA cities with its online universe if the plan succeeds.
Do you think this is feasible? Do you think it could happen? Would it interest you?
Related Game(s): Grand Theft Auto V