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Tracing the evolution of GTA Online from 2013 to the Cayo Perico Heist

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games
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Alan Sahbegovic

The history of GTA Online is a rich and storied one, from a grand opening in 2013 all the way up to the Cayo Perico Heist.

GTA Online has constantly evolved throughout the years. With the addition of the Enhanced and Expanded version of GTA 5 being worked on, it's possible that GTA Online is going to undergo another massive change in the upcoming future. Until that happens, GTA Online fans can look back at these seven-and-a-half years and see how much has changed in GTA Online.

GTA Online was released on October 1, 2013 for the PS3 and Xbox 360, November 18, 2014 for the PS4 and Xbox One, and April 14 for PC, 2015. The first release date was the original GTA Online, whereas the latter two included the Enhanced version. The difference between the two versions will be quite significant down the treasured history in GTA Online.



Tracing the evolution of GTA Online from 2013 to the Cayo Perico Heist

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

GTA Online is one of the most played games of all time, which is an impressive feat for an online game being released nearly seven years ago. Some games tend to have a history that lasts for a few years, but GTA Online went and blew all expectations out of the water.

Regardless of whether one believes that GTA Online has overstayed its welcome, it's hard to deny that the game has released a lot of updates over the years. It's not a game that gets constant, major changes. However, major changes do happen, and they can alter the metagame of GTA Online drastically.

2013

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

As the first year into GTA Online's rich history, 2013 introduced some interesting updates. The following are classified as the major updates of 2013:

  • Beach Bum Update (November 19, 2013)
  • Content Creator (December 10, 2013)
  • Capture (December 18, 2013)
  • Holiday Gifts (December 24, 2013)

Beach Bum was GTA Online's first ever update, and it introduced a myriad of new content. First, there were two new weapons in the Broken Bottle and the SNS Pistol. Second, there were new vehicles and clothing options appropriate for the beach. The base game of GTA 5 also received these new fancy items.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Content Creator was as the name implies. It allowed players to create new content, particularly new jobs through the job editor. Players were able to create deathmatches and races to their heart's content.

Capture was just an update introducing a capture the flag-like game mode. That was it.

Holiday Gifts was GTA Online's first seasonal event. There was snow over San Andreas, and players were able to use a Snowball as a weapon. There were some miscellaneous additions, like new photo filters and facial expressions. Predictably, there was also some Christmas-themed clothing to acquire. The snow vanished on January 5, 2014.

2014

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

2014 eventually introduced the Enhanced version of GTA Online for the PS4 and Xbox One, so there were multiple consoles to play the game on. The following were the major updates of 2014:

  • Valentine's Day Massacre Special (February 13, 2014)
  • Business Update (March 4, 2014)
  • High Life Update (May 13, 2014)
  • I'm Not a Hipster Update (June 17, 2014)
  • Independence Day Special (July 1, 2014)
  • San Andreas Flight School Update (August 19, 2014)
  • Last Team Standing Update (October 2, 2014)
  • Festive Surprise (December 18, 2014)

The first update introduced a new gun (Gusenberg Sweeper) along with the Albany Roosevelt vehicle. This update focused on gangster-themed apparel, hairstyles, and emotes. Some of the content became unavailable on March 3, 2014.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

The Business Update introduced the Heavy Pistol and Special Carbine, some new vehicles, and even more clothing and customization options, just with a business thematic.

The High Life Update was a repeat of the previous updates, except in a different theme once again. The Bullpup Rifle came alongside some new vehicles, but that wasn't the only noteworthy thing. There were also high-end apartments, so players could own two properties at the same time.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

I'm Not a Hipster Update primarily made adjustments such as bug fixes. As usual, there were new clothing and vehicles associated with hipsters. The Vintage Pistol and Antique Cavalry Dagger were also released here.

Independence Day Special was the second seasonal event in GTA Online. The Musket and Firework Launcher were released alongside the Vapid Liberator and the Western Sovereign. Predictably, there was more customization associated with good ole USA. It expired on August 1, 2014.

San Andreas Flight School introduced some new vehicles, but the main benefit was Flight School. Given the importance of aircrafts in GTA Online, this school allowed players to hone their skills. There were even new parachutes to purchase. Unfortunately, Contact Missions had their payout reduced here.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Last Team Standing Update introduced the popular Last Team Standing mode, which could then be utilized in the Content Creator. The Marksman Rifle and Heavy Shotgun were also introduced with some new vehicles and clothing appropriate for the event.

The final update of this busy year turned out to be the first one the Enhanced players could participate in. Like the previous year, Festive Surprise introduced a lieu of new Christmas-themed clothing, and vehicles were introduced. The event expired on January 5, 2015, but players could still get the Proximity Mines, a Homing Rocket Launcher, the new clothes and vehicles, and the ability to buy a third safehouse.

2015

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Like 2014, 2015 was a busy year for GTA Online. While a lot of 2014 was full of filler, 2015 introduced some popular attractions that GTA Online players still participate in to this day. The 2015 updates were:

  • Heists Update (March 10, 2015)
  • Ill-Gotten Gains Part 1 (June 10, 2015)
  • Ill-Gotten Gains Part 2 (July 8, 2015)
  • Freemode Events Update (September 15, 2015)
  • GTA Online Lowriders (October 20, 2015)
  • Halloween Surprise (October 29, 2015)
  • GTA Online: Executives and Other Criminals (December 15, 2015)
  • Festive Surprise 2015 (December 23, 2015)

The single most important update to this point would have to be the Heists Update. As the name would imply, it introduced heists to GTA Online. It should be noted that none of the new heists were added to the single-player campaign.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Ill-Gotten Gains Part 1 was another filler update full of new clothes and vehicles. The most expensive vehicle in the game, the Luxor Deluxe, was released here. It was also the first update for PC players.

Ill-Gotten Gains Part 2 was the last major update added to the 7th generation of consoles, and it was another mostly filler update. New vehicles and weapons, but that was it.

Freemode Events Update introduced Freemode Events and the Rockstar Editor to the PS4 and Xbox One. The old consoles would never receive this update or any future ones.

GTA Online: Lowriders was an update that introduced Benny's Original Motor Works, alongside several new lowrider-appropriate customization options. Players could also buy a fourth property.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Halloween Surprise was another seasonal event, but the goods vanished after November 16, 2015, if players didn't purchase the Halloween-themed items by then.

GTA Online: Executives and Other Criminals is another huge update for GTA Online. Organizations, Super Yachts, and an abundance of new vehicles and customization options were released here. Plus, players could purchase a fifth property.

Festive Surprise 2015 was another Christmas-themed event. Nothing too noteworthy except for the Declasse Tampa being released here.

2016

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

2016 continued the massive success of 2015, although it still had its fair share of minor updates:

  • January 2016 Update (January 28, 2016)
  • GTA Online: Be My Valentine (February 10, 2016)
  • Lowriders: Custom Classics (March 15, 2016)
  • GTA Online: Further Adventures in Finance and Felony (June 7, 2016)
  • GTA Online: Cunning Stunts (July 12, 2016)
  • GTA Online: Bikers (October 4, 2016)
  • GTA Online: Import/Export (December 13, 2016)

Considering the name, January 2016 Update, seems incredibly minor in nature. It should be no surprise that not much was added here. There was a new Adversary Mode known as Drop Zone, along with the other usual new vehicle and customization options.

GTA Online: Be My Valentine brought back the Gusenberg Sweeper and the Roosevelt vehicles permanently, alongside the old gangster-themed clothing.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

Lowriders: Custom Classics introduced the Double Barreled Shotgun and Compact Rifle, alongside the Albany Virgo Classic (Custom) and appropriate clothing apparel. There were also deluxe custom variants of five pre-existing vehicles and a new Adversary Mode known as Sumo.

As far as moneymakers go, GTA Online Further Adventures in Finance and Felony allowed players to become CEOs and buy offices and warehouses. This meant that they could buy and sell cargo for some solid cash.

GTA Online: Cunning Stunts introduced a more robust racing system known as Stunt Races to GTA Online. Predictably, there were a bunch of new vehicles to complement this big update.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

GTA Online: Bikers was like an extension to Further Adventures in Finance and Felony. Here, players could purchase Clubhouses and run a business out of them. Predictably, there were a lot of bikes and Biker-themed customization options.

The final update of GTA Online was another huge one. Import/Export allowed players to purchase a Vehicle Warehouse to import and export vehicles for significant profits. There were 18 new land vehicles added, alongside Turf Wars and appropriate customization options.

2017

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

The previous years were huge for GTA Online, but 2017 saw the number of updates dwindle. However, this also meant that players would get more significant updates rather than the old filler stuff. The 2017 Updates included:

  • Cunning Stunts: Special Vehicle Circuit (March 14, 2017)
  • GTA Online: Gunrunning (June 13, 2017)
  • GTA Online: Smuggler's Run (August 29, 2017)
  • GTA Online: The Doomsday Heist (December 12, 2017)

The first update is easily the most minor one. It's primarily new Cunning Stunt Races for some vehicles, along with a new supercar (Progen GP1).

GTA Online: Gunrunning introduced yet another business option for players to get started in, except this time, it involved weapons in a Bunker. The ability to research new weapons was also incredibly useful.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

GTA Online: Smuggler's Run introduced arguably the least useful business involving Air Freight Cargo. However, players could now store aircraft in Hangars.

GTA Online: The Doomsday Heist was the first major update dedicated to heists since heists first came out in GTA Online. It was a massive success, as this content update introduced a plethora of new vehicles to complement this new heist. Players would have to buy a Facility to participate in it, which also meant Orbital Cannons were a thing.

2018

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

2018 wasn't as strong in terms of the quality of updates as 2017 was, but it still introduced some new, fun activities. The 2018 updates were:

  • GTA Online: Southern San Andreas Super Sport Series (March 20, 2018)
  • GTA Online: After Hours (July 24, 2018)
  • GTA Online: Arena War (December 11, 2018)

The first update was minor (just like the previous year's), but it did introduce Hotring Circuits and a lieu of new vehicles for players to mess around with. New races were also introduced.

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

GTA Online: After Hours introduced Nightclubs, which was another welcome addition to GTA Online. Aside from the return of Gay Tony and the introduction of new real-life celebrities, there were also some new vehicles, including the dreaded Oppressor Mk II.

Finally, GTA Online: Arena War introduced the Arena War activity, which resembled old Twisted Metal-style vehicular combat. Predictably, new vehicles were introduced to fit this kind of environment.

2019

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

2019 was the start of a new era where GTA Online would only release two major updates a year. The 2019 updates all had to do with the Diamond Casino & Resort:

  • GTA Online: The Diamond Casino & Resort (July 23, 2019)
  • GTA Online: The Diamond Casino Heist (December 12, 2019)

The first update introduced a new casino for players to mess around with. Predictably, one could gamble here. There was more than 500 new clothing apparel to consider, 22 new vehicles, and a Master Penthouse to own.

The second update was yet another heist. Seeing as though the last heist was very popular, it shouldn't be surprising that this heist was able to successfully debut as well. Players could also own Arcades, and that's not to mention the abundance of new vehicles and other customization options offered here.

2020

Image via Rockstar Games
Image via Rockstar Games

As there are yet to be any major updates in 2021, 2020 is the last year to discuss in this summarization of GTA Online's evolution. 2020 helped introduce:

  • GTA Online: Los Santos Summer Special (August 11, 2020)
  • GTA Online: The Cayo Perico Heist (December 15, 2020)

The first update was minor compared to the one that followed it, but it still introduced some interesting items. 15 new vehicles, 6 upgrades with Benny's Original Motor Works, 9 new Open Wheel Races (and an Open Wheel Race Creator) are the most notable additions brought by this update.

Finally, the Cayo Perico Heist was released in GTA Online: The Cayo Perico Heist. It was a heist that could be done solo, which was quite revolutionary. Players could explore a new island far away from San Andreas and own a Kosatka submarine.


For comprehensive guides and walkthroughs, check out SK GTA Wiki

Edited by Nikhil Vinod
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