All online games are prone to powercreep, and GTA Online is no exception.
Powercreep is a term that often describes new content that outclasses old content in a variety of fields. It can be seen in minor situations where new weapons are just superior to their older counterparts. However, it's more infamously discussed in matters pertaining to how different GTA Online feels compared to its launch date.
That's not to say games shouldn't evolve or change for the better. On the contrary, it's excellent for games to freshen up and avoid becoming too stale and stagnant. However, some vocal fans have complained about the direction GTA Online has taken, often claiming that powercreep is ruining the game. However, this trend isn't necessarily a bad thing to have in a game.
GTA Online and its powercreep
GTA Online was released in 2013. For an online game to not have any form of powercreep within nearly eight years would be unprecedented. More than likely, that kind of game would be unimaginably stale. Even if fans like nostalgia, there has to be some kind of updates to keep fans interested (Old School Runescape being a prime example).
However, there are many types of powercreep; it isn't just a single one. In fact, items that powercrept others may eventually be powercrept themselves. Likewise, not every update introduces a form of powercreep. Some updates just provide an alternative, sometimes even an inferior, option for the sake of diversity.
Vehicle powercreep in GTA Online
Vehicles are by far the prime example of something that has suffered from powercreep in GTA Online. Looking at the base vehicles at launch and comparing them to the weaponized versions of today's era is like comparing night and day.
For instance, comparing the Z-Type (an excellent car at launch) to the Toreador (a superb weaponized vehicle) isn't fair to the former. Both are classified as Sports Classics, but the latter is far and away superior thanks to its booster, weapons, and armor. That's not even mentioning how the Toreador can go underwater!
Vehicles at launch tended to be more realistic, which dramatically hurts their viability in the modern GTA era. Sure, they're often cheaper than their superior alternatives, but making money isn't that hard in GTA Online, at least compared to yesteryear.
All vehicles have suffered from powercreep in GTA Online. The Oppressor Mk II is better than any other motorcycle if practicality is considered. Boats aren't necessary with submarines and amphibious cars around, and flying cars reduce the need to own planes, etc., in GTA Online.
Weapon powercreep in GTA Online
Like vehicles, some new weapons are absolutely superior to their original counterparts. Something like the Stone Hatchet is unquestionably better than a Baseball Bat as a melee weapon, as its unique ability is far better than a generic melee weapon from GTA Online's launch.
Naturally, even some guns have been hit by powercreep in the game. Some weapons like the Assault Shotgun have held up terrifically, but others like the regular Marksman Rifle have become obsolete thanks to the Marksman Rifle Mk II.
Even weaponized vehicles have been hit by powercreep in GTA Online. The Rhino Tank is pathetic compared to most modern weaponized vehicles, and it's even outclassed by a new, mediocre tank in the form of the TM-02 Khanjali.
Likewise, the Hydra isn't the king of the skies anymore, with several options like the Oppressor Mk II capable of dispatching it effortlessly.
Even non-traditional weapons have become a topic of powercreep for some GTA Online fans. Something like the Orbital Cannon is absurdly powerful, even if it's highly cost-inefficient.
Comparing modern GTA Online to its beginning is embarrassing in terms of how weak the past was.
Money powercreep in GTA Online
An often unnoticed yet significant form of powercreep has come in the form of money. There are two examples concerning GTA Online. First, everything has become more expensive. Second, players have more comfortable and efficient ways to make a profit.
Comparing the prices of base vehicles to recent ones can be jaw-dropping for some players. Cars rarely cost over $1M back in the day, yet most new vehicles can easily bypass $2M. Even properties have skyrocketed in terms of value, especially since the player can own multiple businesses.
Of course, to make up for the fact that everything costs more, Rockstar Games has made moneymaking easier and more efficient than before in GTA Online. For example, a heist like the Cayo Perico Heist is far more efficient than the Humane Labs Raid.
It's not just that, but players have so many other options that they're unlikely to get bored earnings millions.
Is powercreep in GTA Online bad?
Unless players are concerned about GTA being realistic, the answer to which is no. While it is understandable that some fans do not enjoy the random flying cars and other absurd, almost Saints Row-esque elements, GTA Online has mostly changed for the better.
Its fanbase is as healthy as ever, so it's safe to say that GTA Online has handled powercreep mostly well.
Note: This article reflects the writer's opinions.