Red Dead Online, the multiplayer mode of Red Dead Redemption 2, opened in public beta mode this week and the responses have been generally positive. But one aspect of the online game has been causing a lot of controversy — the in-game economy.
An objection that many people have been voicing is that the prices of in-game items are too high and that earning currency requires too much grinding. There are two currencies available in Red Dead Online — cash and gold bars. The gold bars are the “premium” currency that will eventually be available to buy with real-world money. It would be understandable if the gold bars were more difficult to obtain, but fans are complaining that even the regular cash is too hard to get when playing.
You get an in-game cash reward for completing missions in Red Dead Online, but the payout is very low. Most missions pay out $2 or $3, while the essential items you need to play the game like horse feed cost $1 or more. Even looting items doesn’t help, with a bizarre situation in which you can sell a gold wedding ring for $1.15, which is not even enough to buy a can of beans.
This had lead to a situation where intense grinding is necessary to play the game effectively. Players on Reddit have calculated you would need to grind for 8 hours to earn one gold bar. And to give you an idea of what all of that grinding would get you, in order to unlock a feature like fast travel back to camp you would need to spend 112 gold bars, which would take a ridiculous 900 hours to earn. Even a simple upgrade like customizing the basic revolver to be all black costs 12 gold bars, or nearly 100 hours’ worth of grinding.
Grinding is a familiar aspect of gaming, and it isn’t necessarily bad to have upgrades and cosmetic options available to those who are willing to put a few extra hours into playing. However, the sheer amount of time required to earn even the most basic supplies in Red Dead Online is highly off-putting for many. Also, users are worried about the potential effects of making gold bars available to buy with real-world money. The use of microtransactions could seriously unbalance gameplay and give paying players a massive advantage over those not willing to spend more.