Update: This story was written long before Rockstar even hinted that GTA Online character transfers might end. They have not been stopped. Read more about it here.
A bit of news has been spreading across the GTA community like wildfire and it has people up in arms.
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However, said bit of news has been torn out of context and spun in a way that is bound to generate clicks while also causing some controversy for even more publicity. Surprisingly enough, we're not talking about a faked DLC leak, in spite of the previous characterization fitting such an event perfectly.
No no, this is about a cropped screenshot from a Rockstar Support article. The article in question is the recently updated FAQ on transferring characters between the old-gen consoles and either the PC or current-gen versions of GTA Online. A new section has been added to the FAQ titled "Limitations on Transfer" which contains a few, while precariously worded, understandable points about the service.
The above image shows the entries which sparked a community outcry. Certain "news" sites dealing with GTA 5 reported on that image as if it was stating that the character transfer service will be shutting down within 30 days from now (or, technically yesterday). However, this is not the case, put the pitchforks away.
Now, if this would be happening, it would understandably be infuriating, as there was no large announcement about the decision to prevent players on old consoles from bringing their progress with them if they choose to upgrade. Since people think this is actually happening, they think they are justified in their anger.
However there is a short albeit very very important word in that first point which people seem to be glossing over. Read with me:
Transferring previous GTA Online data is a special feature of GTAV that may not be available to all users or at all times, and may, upon 30 days notice be terminated, modified, or offered under different terms.
Did you see it? No? Here, let me help:
Transferring previous GTA Online data is a special feature of GTAV that may not be available to all users or at all times,
, upon 30 days notice be terminated, modified, or offered under different terms.
May. Yes, the service may be terminated (or modified or offered under different terms) by Rockstar with a 30 day notice period. All this entry serves as is a legal heads up that yes, when the service's inevtiable end done come (whenever that might that be) you'll have 30 days notice of it.
As long as the announcement in the future comes 30 days before the actual termination of the service, people will have no legal grounds upon which to complain/sue/etc. However, this isn't happening yet.
So there you have it, plain as day: GTA Online's transfer service isn't going away next month. That said, some players also have taken issue with the second point on that screenshot, which states that transfers may only take place between accounts owned by the same person, and may be reversed by Rockstar if they see that the TOS has been breached.
Now, we're sort of scratching our heads as to why people take issue with this. Some have said that maybe they have a high level character with lots of money on old-gen that they don't play with anymore, and want to transfer it to a friend of theirs playing on current-gen. Sure, that technically isn't sharing the software, since the recipient is assumed to also own the game legitimately, however this kind of content-sharing has never been looked at kindly by developers. That's why DRM exists.
Look at it from Rockstar's point of view. Player 1 doesn't want to play anymore, therefore they are no longer a potential customer. Player 2 does want to play, and is a potential customer. If player 1 transfers a character with lots of cash to player 2, player 2 won't have to go about building their character from scratch (and, you know, maybe buying a few Shark Cards along the way to help themselves...).
As for the reversal part - you should be happy. Ever since the massive purge of hackers on PC, the enhanced editions of GTA Online have been cheater-free except for the transfer-hackers. Basically, if you mod your character on PS3 or Xbox 360 and transfer it to a new system, some of the perks also carry over. With this reversal clause, Rockstar has empowered itself to clean out even this residual filth and turn GTA Online truly, 100% cheater free on the current systems. As for old-gen, due to hardware modding, keeping cheaters out of those systems is impossible.
Which is why this new policy is mainly required. It has become common practice for hackers to create new, modded accounts on either PS3 or Xbox 360, boost the character's rank to above the soft cap where everything is unlocked (meaning above 120. Even so, rank 8000 seems common among hacked accounts) and fill up the character's bank account with ludicrous amounts of cash, usually the limit, meaning 2,147,483,647. That number is the maximum value a 32-bit signed binary integer may reach, which is why it is used as a hidden maximum for a number of stats across gaming.
That amount of cash is pretty much more than enough for your needs in GTA Online. With that much cash, you can buy up all vehicles, get the most expensive apartments, all the fully upgraded lowriders, the most expensive yacht (though why would you want it instead of the middle-tier one?) the flashiest corporate HQ and the biggest warehouses, with still more than enough left to last you a lifetime. With that much money, why bother even looking at Shark Cards?
So you see, the world isn't ending. If you haven't upgraded to current-gen yet for whatever reason, you aren't being cheated out of your progress. Rockstar won't undo your transfer out of spite. The GTA universe isn't about to be swallowed by the black hole of corporate asshattery. Everything is fine.
These are those cases where you really ought to read and re-read these clauses. News sites focusing on GTA have a common and troubling tendency to latch onto whatever bullshit story is about to generate the most clicks, be it about "confirmed" details regarding GTA 6, future DLC or, you know, this. Rockstar won't remove one of their main features without announcing it.
Did this bit of controversy have you worried, or were you sure GTA Online's transfer system won't just up and disappear?