Examining the Enduring Quality of GTA Online

Of all of the various triumphs of the last generation, few of them have proven to have legs as much as GTA Online. Sure, games like Fortnite, PUBG, and a few other online-focused experiences have panned out to be the juggernauts they were so clearly designed to be, but perhaps what’s most impressive about GTA Online is that it ended up being a tangential companion experience to a single-player campaign that ended up being able to stand toe to toe with the absolute best of what online gaming has had to offer in this generation. Even more impressive, it’s an online mode for a single player game that is nearly a decade old, having originally come out way back in 2013 on consoles that are now two generations back. You don’t see that every day, and it’s certainly a feat that you’ve got to hand it to Rockstar for being able to pull off. Even still, it’s worth looking into just why that is. After all this time, why do gamers still love Grand Theft Auto Online so much?

The first and most obvious thing that Grand Theft Auto Online has going for it is the fact that it’s built upon the Grand Theft Auto 5 engine which is a tried-and-true set of tools that Rockstar has used to create outstanding experiences for many years. This allows for a vast array of things to do, a staggering amount of detail to look at while doing them, and a game that runs pretty darn well all things considered. The draw distances are insane as you can see for miles from any ledge overlooking Los Santos, and while doing so it can be a bit crazy to think about how great it all still looks despite its age.

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From that, we naturally have to talk about what is perhaps Grand Theft Auto Online’s strongest asset; the absolutely insane variety of modes available to play and things to do. From cooperative heists, F1-style races, to wackier modes like “deadline” that put you in what is basically a Tron game where you race around and avoid hitting the ever-growing tail you leave behind without stopping. It all adds up to an experience that is so dauntingly vast with things to do, that it ultimately feels more like a platform of its own than a single game once you’ve really wrapped your mind around it all. The best part is that the modes are still getting updates and tweaks, and new stuff is still coming out after all this time, so GTA Online is very well-positioned to be a game that once you’re hooked, it’s basically impossible to become un-hooked.

This of course leads us to the next very important thing about GTA Online; it’s an absolutely massive and super dedicated community. Any multiplayer focused video game obviously sinks or swims by how well it’s able to garner a community of players. No matter what else is at play, no matter how great or horrible an online game is, it’s success will ultimately be determined by its audience. Keeping in line with that, Grand Theft Auto Online’s success is pretty much directly proportional to its ability to garner and maintain a massive audience of dedicated players. In Grand Theft Auto Online’s case, it’s not only created a massive audience, but it’s created a massive audience that has also proven they are more than willing to shell out more of their hard-earned money for in-game items on a massive scale.

This, perhaps more than anything else, has shown the folks at Rockstar that this game is a true, one-in-a-generation success. The sheer amount of money and content that the Grand Theft Auto Online community has contributed to the experience is staggering by any reasonable measure. The game generated nearly a billion dollars in revenue for Rockstar in 2020 alone, which is still less than half of what Fortnite did, but to be even comparable to a behemoth like Fortnite is something worth commending. Especially for a game that is nearly ten years old and whose online functionality wasn’t even its original selling point like it arguably is now. All in all, the community of GTA 5 is its lifeblood, and given the staggering amount of success they’ve found with this approach, there is little reason to think that this will change about the game any time soon. So when it’s all said and done the community inside of Grand Theft Auto Online is far and away the most important part of why gamers love it so much and continue to flock to it in droves.

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Of course, we can’t talk about Grand Theft Auto without giving a mention to the insane amount of control and customization that it affords the players. Even today, with games that tout their customization and freedom as their main selling points, nothing has really come close to GTA 5. It’s true that this has been a staple of the franchise for a long time. Changing your character’s outfits, how they look, what sort of car they drive, what sort of house they live in, and even various parameters of multiple game modes are up for tweaking to the players’ liking. This is not only a great aspect of GTA 5 in and of itself, but it’s also something that leads to an almost infinite amount of replayability for the game’s many modes. Playing through part of the game one way is fine but then you can do it again in an entirely different way and with an entirely different character or with an entirely different sort of vehicle which can completely change the experience from top to bottom. So when you really factor in the sheer amount of things to do in Grand Theft Auto Online and the sheer amount of ways to play all of those modes with all of the customization options in front of you it’s hard to describe it as anything other than limitless. It might not literally be limitless but seeming that way is about as good, and GTA 5 does that in all the right ways.

There really is nothing on the market quite like Grand Theft Auto Online. From the staggering amount of things to do and wide array of ways to do them, it’s an experience that just has to be played to be believed. No website article could ever really do the depth of the experience justice. You just need to dive in and see for yourself. While getting the amount of cash you need to really get to the good stuff can be a bit of a grind, especially if you’re trying to avoid spending more real-world money in the game, the game provides such a gargantuan amount of things to do and ways to explore that you could just as well quit thinking about the grind and just have fun while the metrics your looking to fill ultimately take care of themselves. While you might not really get what Grand Theft Auto Online is all about by looking at it from the outside, once you dive in, it’s impossible to not see why the game has stuck around and remained so relevant for so long.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.

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