'GTA V' Shark Cards Have Kept DLC Free, Says Rockstar Games

Scott Grill

Rockstar Games has released several free DLC updates for Grand Theft Auto V's multiplayer, GTA Online, since it was first launched in October 2013. PlayStation and Xbox owners have become accustomed to paying for new content releases to their games, so this is a bit out of the ordinary. The developer explained how and why it decided to go this route, and where Shark Cards fit in with GTA V.

Several fan questions were answered in a Q&A session and posted to the Rockstar Newswire. While there was discussion of the first-person camera, as Inquisitr reported, there was also a question about Shark Cards. These are redeemable cards/codes that are sold for $3 to $100 that grant in-game cash to spend on vehicles, weapons, clothing, apartments, and more.

— Rockstar Games (@RockstarGames) December 17, 2014

"The reason we included optional in-game currency in Grand Theft Auto Online, rather than directly selling DLC, was because it was the only way that we could distribute DLC without dividing the player base each time we brought out a new content pack, which would destroy the online community very quickly by splitting players up," Rockstar wrote in response to a question about the point of Shark Cards.

"Thanks to Shark Cards, we have been able to give away every piece of DLC so far for free in order to keep the community whole and give people options as to whether they want to earn new content by playing the game, buy new content with Shark Cards or simply don't get new content and still keep playing the game."

"Thanks to Shark Cards, we have been able to give away every piece of DLC so far for free in order to keep the community whole and give people options as to whether they want to earn new content by playing the game, buy new content with Shark Cards or simply don't get new content and still keep playing the game."

Rockstar may have a point with this. The Call of Duty and Battlefield communities quickly became splintered once DLC map packs for multiplayer were rolled out. Playlists were setup featuring the new maps while other playlists featured the older maps. This would lead to difficulty finding games on the older playlists with each DLC release.

GTA V isn't the only game that makes use of microtransactions to support free multiplayer DLC release, however. Electronic Arts went with this model as well for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare and Dragon Age: Inquisition. The latter recently received its first free multiplayer DLC update thanks to this model along with paid DLC for single-player.

GTA V Digital Revenue (PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC)

Publisher Take-Two Interactive won't give specific numbers on how much the game has earned from microtransactions, but SuperData calculated GTA V digital revenue at $32 million by May 2014. Meanwhile, the publisher reported $89.8 million in total digital revenue (not including GTA V) in its fiscal 2015 second quarter earnings (via Seeking Alpha). GTA Online exceeded Take-Two expectations, and was described as "the single largest contributor to digitally-delivered revenue in every quarter since its launch."

GTA V story DLC is still on the way, as I reported for Inquisitr. Rockstar confirmed that it would be a "12 to 20 hour chunk of all new scripted solo player missions, characters, you name it." No release window was given, however.

What do you think of GTA V's model of free multiplayer DLC content supported by microtransactions? Sound off in the comments below.

[Images via Rockstar Games, SuperData Research]

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