After several sources reported earlier this week that Grand Theft Auto Online would feature microtransactions for in-game cash via people with early access to the rabidly anticipated GTA5 multiplayer/Ultimate Rockstar grab for Internet domination, the developer have confirmed this via a rather interesting blog post outlining their plans for launch:

“You will have the option to purchase GTA$ through the in-game Store. The game and its economy have been designed and balanced for the vast majority of players who will not buy extra cash. There is no in-game paywall and nothing that should disrupt the balance of the game. You don’t have to spend real money to attain the cars, guns, clothes, flash and style of a high-roller in Los Santos, but can if you wish to get them a little quicker. The economy is balanced differently from the single player economy, and cash earned in one cannot be taken over to the other. Most players will earn cash much faster Online than in Story Mode.”

GTAOcarsWhile this is utterly unsurprising, with cash cards rumoured to be priced between $1.99 and $13.49, it’s that last point which is potentially the most important. Earning cash in GTA5 is significantly slower than in previous entries in the franchise, and this scarcity of funds carrying over to a paywall-driven online version would be a genuine worry. This makes Rockstar’s claim of GTAO having a differently balanced economy somewhat reassuring. What remains to be seen is how much of an advantage paying players get, especially in a game which is looking to be hog heaven for players looking for every opportunity they can to snipe randoms not in Spectator Mode.

Rockstar have also taken the opportunity to announce a range of free updates coming to the game, introducing heists, a Capture the Flag mode, the Beach Bum Pack (Including four beach vehicles, two new weapons and over 300 items of “incredible down tempo leisure wear“.  There will also be a Content Creator, though it seems limited to designing races and deathmatches according to Rockstar’s information.

Last but not least, the statement also sees Rockstar acknowledge a widely-voiced concern, warning customers that connecting to GTAO may be a wee bit, well, sketchy at first:

“One thing we are already aware of, and are trying to alleviate as fast as we can, is the unanticipated additional pressure on the servers due to a significantly higher number of players than we were anticipating at this point – we are working around the clock to buy and add more servers, but this increased scale is only going to make the first few days even more temperamental than such things usually are.”

Nothing unexpected here, even if the ‘We Didn’t Think It Would Be So Popular’ excuse for the problems with the Social Club and the iFruit app feels thinner than normal given the franchise’s sales history and the already feverish anticipation for GTA5. Nevertheless, we should probably expect to have to give it a good few days at least before we can all really get stuck into GTAO.

MCP’s review of GTA5 will be coming soon, once planning for our Oscar campaign for The Loneliest Robot in Great Britain has been finalized.