GTA V Online: 16 Players, And GTA V Is Only The Beginning
Rockstar appears to be sticking a toe in the MMO world. At least, that’s what the new GTA Online trailer wants us to assume. The new trailer, which provides plenty of nebulous information about Grand Theft Auto Online, is short on concrete details. But it it does promise a “living, online world with multiple players,” that “will continue to expand and evolve after its launch with new content created by Rockstar Games and the Grand Theft Auto community.”
It sounds ambitious, but based on what was revealed this morning, it really just looks a lot like Red Dead Redemption’s multiplayer1, combined with Infamous 2′s content creation system.
It’s already been revealed that you’ll be able to toggle between GTA Online and the GTA V campaign seamlessly. This will allow you to play online with up 16 other players whenever you feel like it, during which time you can band together for heists and robberies, play diversions like vehicle races, compete in classic multiplayer modes like death match, and more to come in the months ahead.
How this really works is not clear, but “persistent” is a word the trailer uses again and again. The impression given here is that the multiplayer world exists somewhat independently of the main game – certainly, there is no cooperative play in the main story missions. Of course, “persistent” doesn’t have to mean a fully realized world hosted on Rockstar servers that exists independently from Grand Theft Auto V. It could mean that the changes you make to your city during multiplayer affect the main game’s world. It could mean your stats carry over from server to server. It could just be a nod to the way a Grand Theft Auto city is a kind of living, breathing virtual world where sections of the city do their thing whether your character happens to be there at that second to observe them happening, or not.
GTA Online will at least be a very robust multiplayer experience, certainly more than we’re used to from a game like this. Players will also be able to create custom content, though at least for now that looks limited to races and death matches. Rockstar also promises to create new content for GTAO in the months to come, and that could mean more than simple multiplayer conditions. As you advance through the multiplayer world, you’ll gain access to new characters who, at least if the trailer isn’t just splicing in main-game stuff, will be fully voiced, which suggests real missions given to you by scripted characters.
Meanwhile, the money you earn from completing jobs can be used to customize your multiplayer experience. Your multiplayer character can get new outfits, hairstyles, weapons and cars, and as you accumulate wealth you can even buy property, like an apartment in which you and your online friends can actually hang out.
So just how does Rockstar plan to generate revenue from Grand Theft Auto Online? It is proposing a very involved experience the company will maintain independently from the main game. That has to mean some kind of real-world commerce. I wouldn’t be shocked if the promised additional content must be purchased, though maybe we’ll just see a huge number of real world ads all over Los Santos.
The revenue question matters because the official press release says that “The world of Grand Theft Auto online will constantly grow and change as new content is added.” Are there plans to expand beyond what Grand Theft Auto V players get in the main game, perhaps with the inclusion of other San Andreas locations like San Fiero? Will we see the GTA IV version of Liberty City? Or does this simply refer to new multiplayer modes, new missions set within the greater Los Santos region featured in the main game, along with the obvious assumption that all Grand Theft Auto games moving forward will be linked to GTAO?
There’s also the question of platform. GTA V will be out on PS3 and Xbox 360 (and eventually, we assume, PC). Will multiplayer participants be limited to people using the same device, or will they all be linked?
We’ll have to wait just a bit longer to find out. Grand Theft Auto Online won’t launch with Grand Theft Auto V on Sept. 17, but instead becomes available two weeks later.
1) Thanks, Phil Owen.