'Red Dead Online' Price Fiasco - 5 Crazy Costs That Incentivize Buying Gold Bars

Red Dead Online brings the best parts of Red Dead Redemption 2 to an online space, but its economy needs some serious work. In the days following its beta launch earlier this week, many fans are eager to call the suite a shameless cash grab due to its ridiculous pricing structure that entices the purchase of premium Gold Bars. For those just hopping in, here are some items you may never see without spending real money.

1) Baked Beans: In Red Dead Online, a single can of health-replenishing Baked Beans costs $1.50 worth of in-game money. That may sound reasonable at first blush, but it's worth noting that selling a semi-rare item like a Gold Wedding Ring yields about $1.15. In missions you may get a few bucks, and looting bodies offers a perk of just a few cents each.

In the Red Dead Redemption 2 campaign and online, food stuffs like Baked Beans are an essential part of keeping your character alive. That benefit comes with a pretty high cost considering there are other expenses like camp and horses that require routine maintenance as well. The inflated cost of these beans ripples through the rest of the mode, and you'll see that as we move further down the list.

2) Guns: Guns are routinely handed to you throughout Red Dead Redemption 2's campaign, but you'll have to do some serious grinding to get them in Red Dead Online. To offer a few examples, Pistols generally cost about $300 at an in-game dealer, and rifles sell for $700 or more. In the real 1800s, guns would generally cost about $25. That number actually makes sense in Red Dead Online's sparse economy, but that's not the route Rockstar chose. Yes there are a handful of ways to get free guns, but, once those avenues are exhausted, you'll be forced to shell out cash.

Red Dead Online weapons
It's possible to actually pay for guns with better stats. Rockstar Games/CONE 11 @ YouTube

To add insult to injury, finite ammunition carries across game modes. Especially if you play lots of PvP, that means every shot you take has a monetary cost. That's a slippery slope not worth going down. Imagine if Call of Duty or Battlefield started charging for ammo packs in multiplayer? That's essentially what's happening in Red Dead Online with in-game currency. Stat-based upgrades are also purchasable with premium Gold, which means you can actually pay to have better weapons too.

3) Horses: Horses are the backbone of any good Wild West game, and Red Dead Online makes it really hard to get a decent one. While PS4 players can get a White Arabian for free during the launch window, that promotion will soon expire. When that happens, expect to spend $50-$1,000 on a noble steed in addition to $40 for a basic saddle.

Red Dead online horses
Horses are an expense that never stops bleeding you dry. Rockstar Games/ScereBro PSNU @ YouTube

To make matters worse, buying multiple horses actually forces you to buy stalls to store them. So, you're effectively spending money to spend more money. A tiny horse hitch at camp can cost as much as $300 as well, so the fees start to add up quickly. Tack on insurance and constant food requirements and you'll be dirt poor in no time.

4) Ability Cards: As you play through Red Dead Online, you unlock the chance to buy horses, weapons and items upon ranking up. Among those rewards are Ability Cards that offer active and passive perks based on your needs. Flying in the face of recent advancements made to stifle pay-to-win mechanics, you can actually spend cash to get the abilities you want once you pass a certain level threshold. While there's a little mitigation in that base level requirement, it's still possible to cheese the system using Gold.

Red Dead Online ability cards
Ability Cards are more pay-to-win than it appears. Rockstar Games/BecomingIncognito @ YouTube

At best, Ability Cards are one more source that drains from an in-game money pool that accumulates too slowly to begin with. There's so much pulling from that single revenue stream that there's no way to ever feel like you have enough money. It seems deliberately designed to entice the purchase of Gold Bars.

5) Clothes: Cosmetics don't matter to all players, but there's no denying everyone wants a cool-looking avatar if they can have it. In the Red Dead Online beta, the sweetest threads come at a huge premium.

Red Dead Online clothes
In 'Red Dead Online,' you'll have to choose between having a cool character and a functional one. Rockstar Games/CONE 11 @ YouTube

A hat alone costs $16 in-game but can rise to as much as $100 or be entirely exclusive to the purchase of Gold Bars. Full outfits, on the other hand, lie in the $250 range. Given all the expenses listed above, most players will have to choose between having a cool character and a capable one. Your starter outlaw looks like a scrub. Get used to seeing them in those clothes if you want to stay competitive.

Red Dead Online is available in beta on PS4 and Xbox One.

What are your thoughts on item prices in the Red Dead Online beta? Is Rockstar pushing too hard to sell Gold Bars? Tell us in the comments section!