GTA Online adds a quality-of-life feature players have wanted for years then upsets everyone by paywalling it: 'One of the slimiest things they've done in a while'

GTA Online
(Image credit: Rockstar Games)

There's one quality-of-life feature that GTA Online players have wanted pretty much since the game came out, and Rockstar's just got around to implementing it—behind a paywall. GTA Online's latest event is called Bottom Dollar Bounties and focuses on letting players live that Dog the Bounty Hunter life in Los Santos, but it also adds the new Vinewood Club app to in-game phones.

This app "lets you easily request vehicles, claim all outstanding business safe earnings, and replenish ammo on your in-game phone." Collecting cash from your businesses in GTA Online has always been a bit of a pain, and being able to do it from your phone instead is obviously a massive improvement. The catch, of course, is that it's only available to GTA+ subscribers paying $8 a month (thanks, GamesRadar+).

"Since day one there were already concerns GTA+ would start locking out genuinely good features from non-subscribing players," writes Select_Ad3588 on the GTA Online subreddit. "The car dealership and shit was already stretching it, but now including a QoL update behind a fucking paywall? That's genuinely sad and makes me a lot more concerned over GTA 6 Online.

"So many players requested this feature, yeah they're 'listening to our feedback' and figuring out how to monetize it. One of the slimiest things they've done in a while."

"Imagine locking a most requested feature behind a a 10 yr old game," says Xplosiv84. "Pay more to play less," adds MaxAliga. "I have GTA+ and even I think this is dumb AF to not give to all players," says IDKRedditsz. "This isn't a feature, it's improving on your cumbersome fucking management system."

In the main thread about this there isn't a single positive reaction to the addition of a feature everyone wanted. The ability to claim your earnings without having to visit every physical location has been a long-term wish of this community, but going by the reaction it's like Rockstar personally insulted everyone's mother.

That's not even the worst of it: play on PC? You're screwed buddy! Despite making a killing on the platform, Rockstar's support of the PC version of GTA Online maintains parity with the last-generation console versions rather than the next-gen console versions, which are the only place you can subscribe to GTA+. 

So not only has Rockstar paywalled some basic functionality for GTA Online players, but it's made it inaccessible on PC. This is the kind of thing that makes peoples' thoughts turn to next summer and the release of GTA 6: Rockstar hasn't discussed anything about the multiplayer element of this but, given that GTA Online makes half-a-billion dollars a year, it's a certainty that it'll come with a new version of the online game.

The direction of travel for GTA Online, particularly since the introduction of GTA+, has left a lot of players grumbling about monetisation and exploitative tactics. At the same time, this hasn't stopped it absolutely raking in the cash for Rockstar and Take-Two, so it's hard to see anything changing. If the next iteration of GTA Online doesn't launch with a subscription service from day one, I'd be astonished. The sad thing is, going by this example, Rockstar has no qualms about looking at what the people want, and then giving them it: for a high price.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."