Rockstar quietly released a macrotransaction package called the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack recently. It gives players a large bundle of in-game GTA Online items and a cash bonus of GTA$ 1,000,000. Now, in a similarly covert move, they've added three other versions.
By default, the Criminal Enterprise pack gave players a few properties, including an executive office, a bunker, an apartment and a garage, as well as 10 vehicles and some guns and customization items. To help with additional investments, a relatively small in-game currency amount is also included in the pack.
Now, for players willing to drop more cash - the base starter pack costs $45 - a version of the same starter pack bundled with a Shark Card is available, making the in-game currency addition greater. There are three versions, one with the Great White, one with the Whale and one with the Megalodon Shark Card.
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Now, with all these starter editions, bundles where they come with the game and bundles where the game comes with Shark Cards, it might be a tad difficult to navigate which version and which price point is the best value. First, let's summarize the different ways you can buy GTA 5.
- Vanilla game
- Game with Great White card
- Game with Whale card
- Game with Megalodon card
- Game with Criminal Enterprise
- Game with Criminal Enterprise + Great White
- Game with Criminal Enterprise + Whale
- Game with Criminal Enterprise + Megalodon
This is just what the official Microsoft and Sony stores offer, as well as Steam. Other online retailers have some other bundles as well. Going based solely on this lineup however, one would easily think that the last and biggest pack likely gives you the most bang for your buck.
The Megalodon card, the most expensive GTA Online microtransaction, comes with GTA$ 8,000,000 and costs $75, but it has been more expensive in the past. The Criminal Starter gives players items valued in excess of GTA$ 10,000,000, and gives players GTA$ 1,000,000. If operating with an item value of exactly GTA$ 10,000,000, for the sake of comparison, that's GTA$ 19,000,000 in value. The price of this bundle is normally $179.97, but is currently discounted to $90.69.
Buying the game in a bundle with just the Criminal Enterprise starter pack brings GTA$ 11,000,000 value on top of the game itself for a usual price of $104.98 (currently discounted to $57.97, basically the cost of a full-price AAA game). Bought alone, Grand Theft Auto 5 is still your standard full $60 when there isn't a sale going on, so this bundle offers no benefit over just buying them separately beyond costing you fewer mouse-clicks.
Then, if we take one of the smaller cash card bundles as an example, the Great White bundle gets you the game and GTA$ 1,250,000 for $74.98 (currently $28,.45 - considering the current discount of just the base game puts it at 23.99, this is a minor price difference for a decent in-game cash boost).
If we were to break things down, the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack plus the Megalodon charges ~$6.3 per GTA$ million in value, the Criminal Enterprise sans any card charges ~$4.1 per million and the Great White bundle charges ~$12 per million. These numbers come by removing a standard AAA price of $60 to account for the value of the game. An unbundled Megalodon costs $9.3 per million.
This shows that the best value ratio is offered by the game bundled with the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack without any Shark Card added. When looking just at Shark Cards, you get better and better value as you climb higher on the price ladder, but in the case of the starter packs, the added Shark Cards push this value down.
Of course, the Starter Pack plus Shark Card bundles still offer better value than Shark Card bundles and standalone Shark Cards. With the current Steam sale going on, many of these bundles are discounted by 50% or more with, which considering GTA 5's discount history, is quite a lot.
Of course, discounting values, when we looked at the contents of the Criminal Enterprise Starter Pack, we concluded that for experienced or veteran players the pack isn't of much interest (the "starter" portion of its name is a tad telling). However we don't see many new players dropping an amount of cash significantly over, sometimes even more than double, of a standard full price AAA on a game they don't yet know simply for in-game items.
These Criminal Enterprise bundles are an odd bunch anyway, since Rockstar has provided them with precisely zero marketing whatsoever. While GTA Online hasn't stopped growing significantly and attracting new players, the addition of such bundles would have made more sense a year or more ago. While the numbers are steady, even the GTA 5 hype train has to eventually start slowing down north of 80 million passengers.
However, based on the recent release of The Doomsday Heist, the biggest DLC GTA Online has ever seen, Rockstar is making good on their past assurances that measly forces such as the ravages of time mean nothing and that they will continue supporting the game with content so long as there are players keeping things alive - and there definitely is no shortage there.
In case you know anyone who somehow doesn't own GTA 5 yet, with the current sales season and these starter packs, it's a good time to jump in - or, better yet, give the gift of GTA 5 this holiday!