One of the most common issues players raise against GTA Online is that items cost far too much compared to how quickly money can be made. Now, first of all, this isn't true, as with the right techniques you can make plenty of cash in relatively little time. But secondly, Rockstar keeps pumping out free DLC which they need to fund somehow, hence Shark Cards and high prices - we touched upon this topic before already.
However, even though the prices are justified and not really that high altogether, the complaints continue. So here we are to issue a question to the GTA 5 community - would you rather pay for the DLC to get the content free in-game? There are multiple other business models that Rockstar could have chosen for their handling of recurrent player spending in GTA Online.
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Let's look at the options:
First, we have the version active now - free DLC backed with a microtransaction model. Here, the microtransactions offer the same in-game currency as the one that can be earned through missions, and there aren't any others. To promote the purchase of these microtransactions, the prices of some in-game items are relatively high compared to the average cash/hour virtual income of players. Microtransactions are entirely optional and the acquisition of money through gameplay is possible. The community is undivided.
Second, we have the opposite. All DLC is paid, however all content is instantly unlocked. This way, when players dish out the real-money fee to unlock the update, including all gameplay additions, they also instantly own the items and vehicles. Of course, this makes multiple tiers of, say, warehouses or properties redundant, since the top tier would also be unlocked. That said, this would gouge a pretty wide gap into the community, as there would be players not willing to subscribe to this business model.
A variant of this would be paid DLC, but make it really cheap. Whereas the "everything is unlocked" version would range between $5-10, this would be more of a $1-5 affair. The vehicles, properties, weapons, etc still cost in-game cash, but less. This way Rockstar recoups production costs from the multitude of smaller payments, while not throwing content at players for free.
Then, instead of Shark Cards, add an optional "unlock all with real money" purchase for each DLC. When an update like Import/Export drops, everyone has access, and everyone has the opportunity to buy the items with in-game money. However, there would also be an option to pay for an instant unlock, instead of buying the cash, then buying the items with said cash. That said, these one-time unlocks would need to be expensive, since each player would only buy one per update.
Another option would be a freemium model, where the very best of each item is only accessible with a special kind of currency that can only be bought. Call it counterfeit cash or diamonds or whatever, but this currency couldn't be earned in-game, only bought with real money, thus forcing the use of microtransactions to get the best stuff. This model is often used by freemium mobile games, and generally despised among the gaming community.
Finally, there is the option to create a bunch of cosmetic-only items that are only available for purchase with real money. A few games do this in order to provide a "premium" selection of items without throwing the balance to whack. You don't need to drop real cash to be competitive, but certain clothes, liveries, and such would not be accessible otherwise.
Now, when presented with this rundown, we're fairly certain everyone will consider the current model used by Rockstar to be the most ideal, but hey, if so many of you complain about the prices, we might as well ask. Drop your votes into the poll, and we'll take a look at the result a week from now and see what the community really thinks about the microtransactions in this game.
Props to this thread for inspiration.