Rockstar Launches GTA+ Subscription Service With Member Exclusive Benefits But Is It Worth It?
Once upon a time, it was commonplace for online games to have subscription fees. The earliest popular graphical online games, including Ultima Online
, all had recurring service fees, as did many games that came after, such as Final Fantasy XI
and World of Warcraft
That model has largely given way to the "freemium" model where the publishers give the game itself away for free, but much of the game's content is locked behind the choice of either extended play times "grinding" for materials, or the option of skipping that grind with a real-money payment.
However, some games have both, and that usually includes the longest-lived and most-successful ones. Sega's ten-year-on Phantasy Star Online 2
is free-to-play, but has extensive cash purchases and also has a "premium" subscription available. In Final Fantasy XIV
and the venerable World of Warcraft
, the subscription fee is still required despite the presence of a cash shop.
Grand Theft Auto Online
has a lot of similarities to what we usually think of as qualities of "MMO" games. While it isn't "massively multiplayer" on a local scale—sessions normally include a maximum of 32 players—there are tens of thousands of players online at any given moment. It has named player characters with persistent progress and all of the other things we think of from MMO games: equipment, appearance customization, player housing, difficult multiplayer "raid" events, and so on.
With that context in mind, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that Rockstar is launching a subscription service for GTA Online
. It's called GTA+, and it costs $6 a month. Ponying up for the premium subscription earns you a cool $500,000 in the in-game GTA$ currency every month and extra GTA$ on "Shark Cards," as well as exclusive benefits. Here's the list of benefits for the first month:
- The Principe Deveste Eight — along with a complimentary Hao’s Special Works upgrade for it before it is made available to purchase by the general public — plus the HSW Orange Trip and HSW CMYK Glitch Liveries.
- The Auto Shop located in La Mesa, introduces an assortment of gameplay updates from Los Santos Tuners. Current Auto Shop owners can relocate to La Mesa at no additional cost.
- Waived LS Car Meet Membership fees. Current LS Car Meet members with GTA+ will be reimbursed GTA$50,000 during this event period.
- Yacht owners can upgrade to the Aquarius Super Yacht at no additional cost.
- The Gussét Frog Tee and Broker Prolaps Basketball Top and Shorts automatically added to your wardrobe.
- The Conveyor Livery for the Mammoth Avenger, HVY APC, and TM-02 Khanjali.
- A selection of free paints and emblems for the Auto Shop.
- 3X GTA$ and RP on Hao’s Special Works Race Series.
- 2X Car Meet Rep on the Street Race Series.
It would be easy to criticize Rockstar for this move because the company has already taken $60 of your money for the game. That's to say nothing of the grind-heavy nature of GTA Online
that practically forces players to purchase Shark Cards for in-game currency if they want to make progress at any kind of reasonable rate. There's also the fact that the company is charging money for what is honestly an extremely minor update
on the current-generation consoles.
In the interest of fairness, though, we'll note that many players who bought GTA V (including GTA Online) purchased it nearly a decade ago. Just like other major online games, GTA Online has seen years of additional content and improvements through continual updates, and that stuff does cost money to create.
The Principe Deveste Eight, one of the rewards for subscribing this month.
If you own GTA V
, you don't actually have to pay Rockstar anything to play it for the rest of eternity, so giving players an option to spend a little every month to support continued development is fair. However, the list of benefits, at least for the first month, is pretty weak.
There's another caveat, too: this program
is only available to players on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series consoles. We've asked Rockstar if GTA+ will be coming to the PC version, and will update this post if we get a response.