Grand Theft Auto 5 was recently re-released in the form of a Premium Online Edition, which includes the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack. This version is mainly aimed at a new audience, giving players a boost in GTA Online with items and in-game funds, though some existing players who haven't upgraded to the PS4, Xbox One or PC version of the game (from PS3 and Xbox 360) might also consider it in light of character transfers no longer being available.
However, with the mess of pricing across different platforms and stores, recent bouts of erroneous progress-wiping bans and the practical worth of the contents of the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack make the question of whether it's worthwhile more complicated. H
owever, one thing is clear from the get-go - if you already own GTA 5 on PC, PS4 or Xbox One, then there isn't any point in buying the Premium Online Edition.
So, if you're a new player, or someone who hasn't upgraded in the past, is the Premium Online Edition a good (re)entry point? The first thing we need to look at is pricing. On digital platforms, the Premium Online Edition/Standard Edition price is as follows:
- PlayStation Store: $84.99 / $59.99
Microsoft Store (Xbox): $84.99 / $59.99
- Steam: €89,23 / €59,99
- Rockstar Warehouse (Console): €69.99 / €49.99
- Rockstar Warehouse (PC): €84.99 / €59.99
The Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, on its own as DLC for a copy of GTA 5 you already own, is $ 44.99 everywhere.
This shows that, if you want to purchase the game digitally through first-party sources (thus avoiding key-selling sites where it might be cheaper), getting it straight from the Rockstar Warehouse is the best option. It also shows that PC users are getting shafted across the board, which is probably why grey-market key selling is a burgeoning business...
Additionally, this also indicates that if you want to buy the game digitally, you'll be doing so at a significant markup over retail prices - which is really unfortunate. Digital games should be universally cheaper than physical versions because, with a digital game, technically you don't "own" the game but own a license to it, and even though Steam allegedly has safeguards in place to prevent people losing those games if Valve ever goes under, this is still a looser definition of ownership than having a physical copy.
Additionally, cheaper digital games would promote a more environmentally friendly approach, as that would mean fewer cases and discs becoming waste.
Now, in retail, things look a whole lot different. Even though prices will vary retailer to retailer, the majority of them took on the Premium Online Edition as a replacement product, stocking it for the standard AAA price of $59.99, and bumping standard GTA 5 down to $29.99. Not as a temporary discount, but permanently.
The fact that GTA 5 retained full retail price for over 4 years is a feat on its own, so it was about time for this price-reduction to roll around.
So, now that we have pricing down, is buying this version worth it? The retail version is a pretty decent deal, though we wouldn't call it a "must buy". Our thoughts on the contents of the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack can be summed up as a somewhat decent collection of items with only a few truly useful ones peppered among those which you'll abandon the moment you earn some proper GTA$.
If you're new to the game, or just now upgrading from PS3 and Xbox 360 (thus losing all progress), then you might as well get the Premium Online Edition. The retail version costs as much as the standard edition up until the premium's release, and hopping into the colossally bloated GTA Online will be a tad less daunting with some items and a bit of in-game currency to help you get going.
Then again, as a returning player who is switching to the newer version of the game, but is forced to leave their character behind, you possess experience of the game that newcomers don't. So even though you are starting anew, you know what's what in the game, and instead of buying all those potentially useless items plus GTA$ 1,000,000, you might rather spend slightly less than the price of the Starter Pack on a Whale Shark Card.
However, if you're one of the approximately four people left who haven't bought GTA 5 but are interested in the story alone with no care for Online, this new release is a boon due to the price cut on the Standard Edition, meaning you can buy the game for half its original price.
Something to consider is that it isn't known whether the items included in the starter pack enjoy the same punishment exemption as Shark Card money.
In GTA Online, whenever you get banned, your progress is wiped - all RP, all items, all money that isn't bought via Shark Card disappears. Now, if you get banned rightfully then you deserve it of course, however GTA Online was recently hit by a bug that banned innocent players in droves. If the items contained in the starter pack are wiped alongside other progress, all it takes is one ban to lose all of that $44.99 value.
Some players were disappointed by the GTA 5 Premium Online Edition, however for new players looking to jump into one of the most played multiplayer games, it is a decent, though not stellar, entry point.