Red Dead Online’s beta has been out for two days, and somewhat unsurprisingly, there’s already been a flurry of criticism regarding the way Rockstar has designed the game’s economy. Complaints have largely centred on the microtransactions (amusingly dubbed “micahtransactions” by the community), with many players claiming the premium currency is too difficult to earn.
But there are also significant issues with the game’s regular currency, as Red Dead Online’s economy is making it difficult for players to buy basic survival supplies. Even pawning off your family heirlooms won’t help, as baked beans are seemingly more valuable than gold rings. In Heinzsight, my beans on toast breakfast is looking pretty pricey.
The observation was made by Reddit user ConvictedWaffles. We checked it out ourselves, and indeed, gold wedding rings can be sold for a measly $1.10, while baked beans cost $1.20 (kidney beans are a pricier $1.50). The revelations didn’t end there, however, as other Reddit users began to highlight further injustices in the economy. Mauser pistols, for instance, only cost $35 in 1899, yet in Red Dead Online the guns require players to put forward a whopping $1000 – more like today’s prices for the antiques. In single-player, this gun costs a more reasonable $250, meaning Rockstar has increased the price by 300 per cent for the online mode.
So how does cash work in Red Dead Online? Apart from the cosmetics-and-fast-travel-only premium currency (Gold Bars), it’s pretty similar to the single-player version. Dollars can be earned from activities like hunting and completing missions, and then spent on weapons, cosmetics and other useful things. The problem here is looting in Red Dead Online only gives you about a tenth of what you would earn for the same activity in the single-player mode. And with the simultaneous inflation of the cost of basic items, converting your hard-earned dough into actual bread becomes particularly difficult. Am I still writing about Red Dead Online, or Brexit Britain? I can’t tell.
This obviously isn’t going down well with players, many of whom are threatening to stop playing until Rockstar introduces a “viable money making method”. “It legit costs 65 dollars or more to change a piece on your gun,” Reddit user BlackManta protested. “How the hell are you supposed to do that when mission awards are 2 dollars.”
Another user called polyphemus, meanwhile, pointed out that even playing an hour-and-a-half per night did not seem to be enough. “With the core mechanic system in place, characters and horses need to be fed in order to maintain health. Items that are looted are not worth as much money as things cost in stores, which I get, but my time would need to increase drastically in order for me to ‘grind out’ enough of a living in-game to be able to afford health items, let alone to afford things like ammo and offensive firepower.”
Some have speculated the grind is to encourage players who want cosmetics to buy Gold Bars – that is, when the game’s microtransactions are eventually activated. Although the premium currency can’t be spent on gameplay-affecting items, if players are forced to spend all their regular in-game currency on day-to-day living, they’ll find themselves with little left for fancy cowboy hats. There are also concerns that options to buy regular currency may be added at a later date, similar to GTA Online’s Shark Cards. The resemblance is uncanny – I feel like we’ve bean here before.
Although things are currently looking pretty grim, it’s worth mentioning Red Dead Online is still in the earliest phases of the beta, with an economy that is yet to gain core features like property ownership. It’s likely Rockstar will further tweak the economy in the weeks and months to come, but the question is to what extend the company will change things, particularly when microtransactions are such a huge earner for GTA Online.
While waiting for Rockstar to respond to feedback (which you can submit here, by the way), players are passing the time by doing two things: calculating quick ways to earn money in the game, and creating memes (including some dark humour from the GTA community). “We were too busy robbing stagecoaches and banks to realize the real money is in the bean cannery,” one Reddit user said. Maybe that would finally produce enough money to satisfy Dutch.