Rent or Buy: The Grand Theft Auto V Conundrum


Grand Theft Auto V releases at midnight tonight, and I still have a decision on my hands. Should I pick up a copy, or just wait a bit to rent it?

I’m a fan of the GTA series, but IV was a tremendous disappointment to me. Coming on the heels of Vice City and San Andreas — two fun, engaging titles with strong protagonists — IV brought us into the world of Niko Bellic. Niko wasn’t a bad character on his own merits, but he was mediocre at best, and the people around him seemed drab by comparison. Liberty City was a sprawling masterpiece in terms of content and graphical prowess, yet the story contained within its borders left you wondering if anything there was truly alive. And let’s not even talk about Roman’s 714 phone calls about darts or the choice between two endings that were both terrible.

Now, five years later, Rockstar returns with a game that promises to be bigger and better than ever. That potential is exciting to me, and a lot of the expected features sound great. Three protagonists? I’m on board — hell, if I don’t like one of my choices, I can switch between them almost at will. The world of Los Santos looks fantastic, which isn’t that surprising considering GTA’s pedigree for being a step ahead of the curve with graphics. And the multiplayer mode (even though it won’t be ready until a month after launch) seems to have a ton of potential for bringing additional people into your sandbox and creating mayhem in the process.

So the issue for me isn’t whether or not I’ll play GTA V — it’s going to happen at some point in the next couple weeks. The problem is whether I should buy the game for $60 to ensure I’ll have multiplayer access eventually, or just rent it (you know, from one of the few places where that’s still possible).

GTA has never had a ton of replayability for me, even in the games that I enjoyed. The exception was San Andreas because of its couch co-op; Tech Guy and I spent hours enabling certain cheats like 100-foot bicycle jumps and running around as a (sometimes) united destructive force. That’s where the mystery of V comes in — on the surface, it appears that online multiplayer has a ton of great things going for it, but will it deliver? And is it worth picking up the game now when that feature doesn’t even surface until October?

One way that we usually milk additional value out of video games at this household is by sharing them amongst roommates. For example, we got a lot of bang for our buck with Tales of Xillia because it was a 50-hour game that all four of us played. Alternatively, for single-player titles, one person might pick the game up and then let others play it once they’ve finished. I’m not sure what the interest is in GTA V around these parts — Tech Guy would probably play it, but he’s leaving shortly; Shaun might be interested, but he may have been even more jaded by IV than I was; and Jason seems mostly interested in the multiplayer.

So that leaves me with a decision that I’m going to have to consider while I’m at work today. To buy, or not to buy? Sometime in the next 24 hours I’ll have to settle on one side of the fence.

What about you? Is there enough in the GTA V package that it warrants a release-date purchase from you? Are you taking a more cautious approach and waiting to read reviews (all stellar so far) before taking the plunge? Or does the series not even interest you in the first place? Help me with my conundrum, America.


8 thoughts on “Rent or Buy: The Grand Theft Auto V Conundrum

  1. Yeah, this is the big dilemma with a lot of games! I’ll definitely be playing this, but this is not the type that I play more than once… so it’s just a rental for me. BUT I can’t read reviews until I’ve played it! For some games, you have to get an idea of whether they’re any good or not… but for some, like GTA V, I want to make up my own mind!

    1. I’m the same way in not playing these types of games more than once. If it weren’t for the multiplayer, this decision would pretty much be rent for me. But now I have all these conflicting feelings and I’m just wrenched up inside and OH GOD WHAT IS HAPPENING

  2. My copy of GTA V is on its way, so there’s my answer. I’ve been on the fence lately about buying vs. renting games. With GTA V, I know it could take me months to get through just the main story, so buying it makes more sense than paying to rent it for a year. From what you said in your post, it sounds like renting it now might be a good idea, and then maybe picking it up on sale later.

    1. Yeah, that’s not a bad idea — rent it to play through the story, and then purchase it later if multiplayer delivers, maybe saving 5 or 10 bucks in the process. Seems to make sense.

  3. Got mine this morning. I’ve been eagerly awaiting this game and due to work and other commitments I’ll have to take my time in playing through the main story so it made sense for me to buy. If you’re not sure rent it first, then decide. If it helps any, I’m really enjoying it so far!

    1. You make a valid point at the beginning there — one of the reasons I’ve been hedging on this is because the next week or two are ridiculously busy for me. Renting might not be a viable (or at least cost-effective) option in between all that.

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