For some, Grand Theft Auto 4's multiplayer mode was a promise unfulfilled -- it had the open environment of a massively multiplayer online game, but none of the genre's persistent content. Rockstar is making amends by unveiling Grand Theft Auto Online, an independent counterpart to GTA5 with a few MMO components. While only 16 players can participate in a given session, they all have permanent stakes in the game world: they can raise cash, buy property and build a reputation that unlocks new gameplay. There are "ambient" events, and gamers can even design custom battles or races to share with others.

The new title should also represent a break from Rockstar's usual business model, which emphasizes blockbuster releases with few (if any) updates. Although GTAO will be available for free to GTA5 buyers on October 1st and start off with that game's resources, it should receive a steady stream of new missions and purchases. Ultimately, the two GTA games may have little in common. Rockstar hasn't said whether or not it will charge players for any extras, but we wouldn't be surprised if they carry price tags.

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