From beach bums to nightclubs – how GTA Online radically evolved over 5 years and 30+ updates

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Rockstar's ambitious online undertaking has experienced radical changes during its five-year history. From its humble beginnings at 2013 launch where it was little more than open world with a handful of missions and game modes sprinkled through it, the online realm of San Andreas has been completely overhauled into a bustling metropolis of content. From heists and rare Christmas snow to insane stunt races and entire criminal empires for players to run, it's impossible to overstate how much things have changed. We spoke to Rockstar’s director of design Imran Sarwar, who guided us through the most important updates GTA Online has seen.

19 November, 2013 – Beach Bum Pack

“A fairly quiet start for GTA Online’s DLC, Beach Bum added some new lifestyle-themed vehicles, including the Bifta buggy... Under the surface, we’d started making incremental changes to the game based on how people were playing.”

10 December, 2013 – Deathmatch & Race Creators Pack

“Our GTA Online Creator Community began to form around the launch of this update – and it’s still growing today. We continue to be amazed and awed by all the incredible content produced by players using the Creator tools.”

18 December, 2013 – Capture Update

“This was our take on traditional Capture The Flag modes, and each of the four modes could play wildly differently depending on the location and setup. Capture really came into its own later, when we added the Capture Creator.”

24 December, 2013 – The Festive Surprise

“The first GTA Online Christmas saw the beginning of the now traditional Festive Surprise – celebrating the season by giving players gifts for logging on... and the now legendary, rare but reliable annual San Andreas snowfall.”

13 February, 2014 – Valentine’s Day Massacre Special

“Another yearly tradition, this allows us to spread a little love as well as introducing stylish and rare, timed access clothing options. The Roosevelt introduced in this first V-Day update was an instant hit with players.”

13 May, 2014 – The High Life Update

“In response to growing player requests for extra vehicle storage, High Life was the beginning of the property portfolio expansion, allowing players to own two properties and adding new high-end apartments to choose from.”

17 June, 2014 – The “I’m Not a Hipster” Update

“After two updates adding high-end luxury vehicles and supercars, we decided to expand the wardrobes of our most fashion-centric players with the addition of hundreds of new male and female clothing options and 49 new tattoos...”

01 July, 2014 – Independence Day Update

“Los Santos seemed like the perfect place to celebrate all things American as we kicked off another yearly tradition: it was great to see players bring in Independence Day with fireworks, explosions, and monster trucks!”

19 August, 2014 – The Flight School Update

“Flight School was designed to add in more aerial options for players, bringing not only the Flight School itself but additional aerial jobs as well as new air-based races and capture games.”

02 October, 2014 – Last Team Standing Creator

“Another addition to the Creator tool set. In some ways, LTS heralded the beginning of Adversary Modes: paving the way for wildly different kinds of PvP modes, all gathered together in one place.”

10 March, 2015 – Heists

“The Heists update was the largest update we had ever put out... we wanted to offer the players an experience like no other, spread across five distinct and challenging multi-part missions... Heists heralded a turning point for updates.”

10 June, 2015 – Ill-Gotten Gains Part 1

“The community was ready for big-ticket items to sink their illicit funds into so we put together an update filled with luxurious items and flashy clothing... Sadly, Ill-Gotten Gains also signalled the end of our ability to deliver content updates on PS3 and Xbox 360.”

15 September, 2015 – Freemode Events inc. the Rockstar Editor

“Freemode Events revolutionised the game – no longer did players have to leave Freemode to enjoy detailed challenges... The Rockstar Editor was another tool designed to help our more creatively-minded players.”

20 October, 2015 – Lowriders

“The Lowriders update introduced Benny’s Original Motorworks along with the garage’s customisations for hydraulic-infused, pimped-out makeovers for favourite GTA vehicles and an unprecedented level of modification.”

29 October, 2015 – The Halloween Surprise

“The start of another tradition, Halloween Surprise added fantastic-looking customisation options for players to expand their wardrobes and self-expression through detailed masks and horror-inspired clothing.”

15 December, 2015 – Executives And Other Criminals

“Players had been crying out for more luxury items, and this big update delivered the most ostentatious status symbol of them all: a luxury yacht, available in three different styles... Yachts remain a favourite place to relax in-game.”

21 December, 2015 – Festive Surprise 2015

“The return of the holidays brought snow, Christmas trees to safehouses, even more holiday clothing and a radically fun new Adversary mode, Beast vs. Slasher, which pits heavily armed Slasher squads against the superhuman animals...”

Continue to Page 2 for GTA Online updates 2016-2018