Rockstar has just dumped an armored-truckload of info about Grand Theft Auto Online, confirming in-game microtransactions and cautioning that the first few weeks might not be all that smooth for the upcoming multiplayer service, which launches on October 1.
When GTA Online launches, you'll be able to explore the world and rob stores with up to 15 friends per game, take missions and jobs as a team, and do all sorts of other recreational activities: sports, races, etc. You can create your own personal avatar to use in Los Santos—male or female.
There are also four upcoming free updates that will add extra content to the online game, including multiplayer bank heists (!) and a content creator.
GTA Online comes free with all copies of GTA V, which has sold roughly a bazillion copies since it launched last week. Perhaps that's why Rockstar wants to warn us that things won't be so smooth when multiplayer goes live (emphasis mine):
There will be the typical growing pains for an online game, including but not limited to crashes, glitches, crazy bugs, gameplay modes and mechanics that need re-balancing and other surprises! Even in GTAV Story Mode, some of you may have seen a few odd and even amusing little glitches out there last week. This sort of thing is inevitable in a massive open-world game and there’ll surely be lots more unexpected oddities like this in the Online world next week – rest assured we’ll be monitoring and actively doing all we can to smooth such things out as they happen, but we need your help to find them, as well as your feedback to help fine tune all of the game's systems so everything is perfectly balanced.
Rockstar also confirmed what had been rumored previously—there will be microtransactions online. In other words, you'll be able to spend real cash on in-game cash:
Reputation and Cash Flow: Reputation is earned from all your online exploits in everything you do in GTA Online – and will help you rank up, providing access to new features, weapons and criminal contacts. Spend cash you’ve gained on cars, clothes, guns, properties and much more. You can either quickly accumulate cash through profitable activities like knocking over armored cars, winning street races, doing stick-ups or a host of other cash-making endeavors – or if you’re the completely instant gratification type, you can choose to buy denominations of GTA$. You will have the option to purchase GTA$ through the in-game Store. The game and its economy have been designed and balanced for the vast majority of players who will not buy extra cash. There is no in-game paywall and nothing that should disrupt the balance of the game. You don’t have to spend real money to attain the cars, guns, clothes, flash and style of a high-roller in Los Santos, but can if you wish to get them a little quicker. The economy is balanced differently from the single player economy, and cash earned in one cannot be taken over to the other. Most players will earn cash much faster Online than in Story Mode.
Although some gamers might be turned off by the thought of other players being able to pay for advantages in the game, bear in mind that you can choose just to play with people you know, and if you so choose, you can all agree not to use microtransactions at all.
Rockstar says they want your feedback, too. They've opened up an e-mail address just for GTA Online help and suggestions: GTAOnline@rockstargames.com
"We are planning for a constant stream of new content, tweaks and updates in the weeks and months ahead," Rockstar writes. "The first couple of weeks we expect to be heavily focused on tuning the experience as it goes from internal testing to the reality of being played by tons of people in the real world so that all the usual teething problems for an online game are overcome. We hope it will all run incredibly smoothly, but please bear with us if it doesn't, and help us fix any and all problems!"
The company also detailed some free updates they've got planned for the online service:
Currently Planned GTA Online Content Updates: Here is a quick overview of a few initial things we’re working on for the first few weeks of Grand Theft Auto Online, alongside an aggressive period of tuning and finessing the game. We will give you dates for all of this content as soon as we have them – bear in mind that the order of things may well change, and we will probably add some extra stuff as well!
The Content Creator: The Content Creator will launch with tools to tailor and publish your own Deathmatches & Races.
The Beach Bum Pack: Featuring 4 new amazing beach fun vehicles, over 300 new items of incredible down tempo leisure wear and 2 new but not remotely relaxing weapons.
Capture the Flag: GTA Online’s take on the classic CTF mode including the ability to make your own using The Content Creator.
Heists: This update will introduce full-on cooperative Heist missions that will require careful planning, teamwork and sharp execution – along with the Heist Planning Board for your apartment.
The thought of getting together and doing full heists with friends online sure does sound incredible. This will be something to watch.