GTA Online microtransactions meant to 'create great experience' for players, says Take-Two
The in-game microtransactions in Grand Theft Auto Online are not meant to bleed the average gamer dry. Rather, Rockstar Games' decision to give players the ability to purchase in-game cash (GTA$) with real-life money is all in an effort to "delight consumers," according to parent company Take-Two Interactive.
A sensitive subject, many Grand Theft Auto 5 players have complained about the economy in GTA Online, particularly the game's microtransactions as many believe it's a simple cash grab. The argument is that items in GTA Online are made intentionally expensive as to encourage players to purchase GTA$ with real money. A series of nerfs to job payouts only furthered this belief.
Attempting to justify the game's microtransactions, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick said the company's "primary goal is to delight consumers and create a great experience."
"As you know, GTA Online is a free to play experience and there is opportunities for recurrent consumer spending within the game, and no obligation of course," he said. "But we have sold in 32.5 million units of Grand Theft Auto 5. We have enjoyed an extraordinary economic result. But the starting point for that economic result is delighting consumers, giving them a fantastic experience. And that’s our focus in GTA Online."
"And the reason that we offer an opportunity to spend money in the game is that’s coordinated with a great experience. We are not making decisions in order to extract value, we are making decisions to delight consumers. And that includes creating value," Zelnick added.
Take-Two acknowledged there's been some "issues" with GTA Online's currency. The issues mostly stem from cheaters and exploiters "generating and distributing game-breaking amounts of in-game cash, disrupting the experience for other players." To Rockstar Games' credit, the developer has assured players that they will "continue to issue title updates on an ongoing basis to counter the negative impact [cheating] has had on gameplay." A recent update for GTA 5 took particular aim at cheaters, removing the counterfeit GTA$ (money) from the game's economy and placing those who engaged in cheating and exploiting into "isolated cheater pools."
It's hard for any company to shake the connotation associated with microtransactions, especially when analysts estimate it could generate an additional $100 million in annual revenue for GTA Online. Those sort of numbers are what sparks skepticism among consumers. "You know as long as people keep loving GTA Online it's going to be great for us," Zelnick concluded, speaking of the potential of GTA Online's continued profitability.