I have. And I’d do it again, and will do it again. I’ll tell you why later, but first I want to explain a few things.
On the whole, I and most of you dear readers probably hate hackers and cheaters in online games. In short, they ruin the fun of other people for their own satisfaction; they are the playground bullies of gaming. They pop up like those bloody Twitter adverts I keep seeing before YouTube videos, all obnoxious and irritating, and every time you think you’re free of them they come back next time. And, of course, they break the game in question by destroying any sense of balance. A teleported, infinite health, instant kills, whatever they may be, they are a blight on the multiplayer communities of countless games. I don’t like them, and I love that developers are increasingly taking a hardline approach of banning offenders the first time they are caught. From what I understand, most people who cheat games like Overwatch are just bastards, or inadequate teenagers.
But what about non-competitive multiplayer games, MMOs and such? Again, hacking and cheating ruins the fun. MMOs tend to be about groups of people coming together to work towards a goal set by the developers, mainly challenging boss fights. That challenge brings people together and the hard work, even though it achieves digital nothing, is fun for the group. For someone to come in with infinite health or an instakill cheat ruins that. Although the solution is as simple as kicking them and finding a replacement, that is still a pain in the backside, especially on MMOs with smaller fanbases. I mind it, but a stern warning will probably do the trick and at the end of the day the community has the tools to deal with hackers themselves so it isn’t that much of a deal.
But then we get to the step below the MMO – the multiplayer playgrounds like GTA:Online and Just Cause 2 Multiplayer. In those instances, hackers can still be a bunch of right wankers. The number of times I’ve logged into GTA: Online to see everyone being blown up by a Russian teenager with godmode screaming over chat as their mum has an argument with them is simply off the charts. But there are good hackers too. In the multiplayer mod for Just Cause 2, server moderators were essentially given a menu that let them do whatever, much like our teenager who won’t come down for dinner, except they are entrusted with those tools to smack down those who misbehave in ironic fashion. It is also just more fun, most players get to spawn whatever they want anyway – it really is just a playground.
Thing is, JC 2 and GTA are two very different beasts. Just Cause 2’s multiplayer is a fan created mod, GTA: Online is Take Two’s main money maker. One is free fun, GTA: Online is one or the other.
Imagine starting in GTA: Online, where a fast car will set you back $2,000,000 but where it is only possible to gain about $60,000 per hour of play, on average. Most missions only pay out a few thousand dollars, maybe into the couple of tens of thousands if you can find the right one. They take about 10-20 minutes each in my experience and so $60,000 an hour is a reasonable estimate if you are willing to grind and if things go smoothly. To afford one of the really fast cars will set you back a couple of million to buy it and at least another million to upgrade it. That is 30-40 hours of play for one nice, upgraded car.
Then consider property prices and the offices that many of the updates to GTA: Online require to be accessed by players. They cost about 8 million in total (let’s say a kitted out office so you don’t need a house as well). That will be a further 130ish hours of play – utterly ridiculous. Then we get to guns (which are not that expensive) but will still take an hour of grinding. Then a ‘Benny’s Car’ – a souped up automobile like one of those cars that bounces up and down for no reason. That’s 2 or 3 million as well. 40 hours. So, to own an office, a supercar, a lowrider and a machine gun will, in total, take over 200 hours. So, I cheated.
This is the thing about GTA: Online – it is not free. Few ‘free’ game are free. They come with a psychological onslaught – the tedium of the grind – so that you will buy microtransactions. And on that topic, £60 of microtransactions in GTA: Online will get you 8 million dollars. To get all the stuff I mentioned (complete office, a supercar, a lowrider and a gun) totals about $12,000,000. So that will be £90 of microtransactions. That translates to about £0.45 per hour of grinding.
It is actually more time efficient to get a part time job and spend the money on microtransactions than it would be to earn the money in-game legitimately. And it’s not like these are frivolous cosmetics, these are things you need to access missions as well as a couple of cars. GTA: Online is by far the worst psychological onslaught I have ever seen. The grind is relentless and never ending. You either play it for ‘free’ (keep in mind I’ve already bought GTA V for £40) and not have fun, or you pay up and get digital nothings that might let you enjoy yourself a bit more.
So I cheated. The game is now my playground. And with new (and I must say, rather fun) content costing millions of dollars per item to obtain, I would do it again. I'll have to.
Now, dear reader, have you ever cheated? I don’t like cheating, but the design of GTA: Online broke me. What are your limits? Are there situations where you would cheat at a multiplayer game and what are they?