Not too long ago yet another DLC was announced for GTA 5 – yet another DLC that isn’t a singleplayer expansion, but instead an update for Online. While the concept behind Import/Export is a great one that returns to the fundamentals of Grand Theft Auto, and might actually be exactly what the multiplayer mode needs right now, some fans are pissed that the solo campaign is being passed over once again. Many fans.
But how many exactly? It’s a well-known fact that internet communities have the uncanny tendency to become the echo-chambers for vocal minorities that give off the impression that the opinions of the few are actually the opinions of the many. The call for singleplayer DLC can often be found in internet communities focused on GTA 5, so it is possible that the larger audience isn’t actually interested.
But – and it’s a really big but – we cannot ignore the fact that the discussion has popped up on pretty much all GTA 5 related communities. And on news sites. I mean, freaking Forbes posted about the absence of singleplayer DLC. So what is this really – is it just the amplified voice of an echo-chamber, or is the game’s audience truly universally starved out for some quality single player content?
Well, we’re here to find out just that in our second poll. Some time ago we ran a survey about what the fans hope Rockstar’s next project is. We gave the most likely options, meaning voters could pick from GTA 6, Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA 5 Story DLC. Interestingly enough, story DLC for the developer’s most recent game rolled in ahead of a new Red Dead game. You can check out the results of that survey here.
So, the time has come. Let the voice of the people be heard. Throw your vote regarding your interest in a story expansion for GTA 5 into the poll below.
Story DLC, or the idea of it, has had a tough history since release. Not too long after the game went live, Rockstar posted on the Newswire about upcoming content that would continue the stories of Franklin, Trevor, and Michael. This was the first and last official news about the fabled story expansion we’d hear about.
At one point there was a possible conflict of interest between Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive. One time a Rockstar representative answered a question regarding story DLC, he stated that it is indeed on its way – only to be soon “corrected” by a Take-Two rep saying that there are currently no plans to expand GTA 5 with single player content.
After this, the only times the idea of story DLC reared its head was whenever the voice actor of Franklin decided to troll the community by supposedly teasing or leaking images of him recording lines for further story content. For one of his stunts, he even got the voice actor for C.J. from GTA: San Andreas to sit in to add an air of legitimacy.
However, all of Shawn Fonteno’s little pranks were uncovered for what they truly were and eventually he stopped pulling them. Fake news about such a DLC being in the works also slowed, probably because people stopped hoping and clicked less. However, the empty void left behind by the lack of a GTA 5 story expansion remained.
While GTA Online today is barely even comparable to Online when it launched, the game’s solo component remained more or less unchanged. The weapons and vehicles of some of the earlier updates were added to single player, however, this practice ceased quickly, and the campaign has remained untouched since.
Many theories popped up about why Rockstar and Take-Two ended up burying the idea of a single player expansion for GTA 5 – however, in the end, they all come down to money. We ourselves have covered this topic extensively (time to break out that one-and-a-half-year-old featured image. Yeah!).
In the end, it was most likely GTA Online that killed any hope of a story expansion. More specifically, the success of Online. Rockstar’s microtransaction system, the Shark Cards, have been a solid and steady source of income for a good long while now. It’s been a good long time now since we reported on Shark Card sales having brought in $500 million in profits. That’s a lot of cash.
GTA Online players buy Shark Cards when they want to buy new content without having to work for it. This means that once they have all the content, they stop buying Shark Cards. Hence, in order to get players to keep buying Shark Cards, more content needs to be produced.
Thing is, Shark Cards are an Online only system and thus a single player DLC wouldn’t boost microtransaction revenue. So, how do you monetize singleplayer content? Make it paid DLC, of course. However, these days the average asking price for paid DLC is floating around the $10-15 mark.
Now, consider the production costs of a typical GTA Online DLC. These updates usually contain one new Adversary Mode, a handful of new vehicles, a handful of new weapons, some character customization items and a moderately complex central gameplay mechanic that is new in Online.
With the kind of resources Rockstar has at its disposal, putting these together is a breeze. Well, relatively, in any case. It doesn’t cost much to make a GTA Online update, however, those things bring in the cash like there is no tomorrow.
On the other hand, it is pretty expensive to produce singleplayer DLC. you need a greater quantity of more complex additions to gameplay. You need a well-crafted storyline with a lot more voice acting than what goes into Online DLC. You need to structure missions, spend more time fleshing out characters, sort out the narrative structure, add enough new content to warrant a ten dollar price – which possibly means a whole new playable area too.
In the end, the production costs of singleplayer DLC come up to massive figures. In essence, Rockstar would be making a whole new game (okay, the engine, many assets and most of the programming would be done already) that, let’s face it, in the end, not many people – again, relatively – will buy.
GTA Online had 8 million unique log-ins per week last year. While we don’t have exact figures for this year, we do know that number went up. If 10% of those players buy Shark Cards for every DLC released – and we know a higher percentage do – that’s still more than 800,000 Shark Cards sold. Every month.
Singleplayer DLC might not even be bought by that many people, but if we’re generous, let’s say one million players buy the $10 GTA 5 story expansion. They do this just once, while those Shark Cards sell over and over again. Singleplayer DLC is high-investment/low-revenue, while GTA Online DLC is low-investment/high-revenue.
If you were Rockstar, which would you choose?
In any case, the company has proven with the release of Bikers that they are willing to listen to the voice of the community, so who knows, if the crowd that wants story DLC to be a reality win this poll, we might actually get it!
Which option did you choose in the poll?
What do you think? Sound off below!