Many players have asked me this question, especially since Grand Theft Auto Online (GTAO) was released in November 2013. Now that the deed is done, and the cat is out of the bag that Rockstar has created a life-like simulation of a big city called Los Angeles in a digital world, it’s time to revisit the subject. It took me a while to figure out how much money a new player can make in GTAO. I assumed it would be similar to the way Rockstar has programmed the game to work, but you’d have to complete certain tasks to unlock all the riches. It’s not as easy as pointing your phone at the screen and pressing “Start” – you’ll need some strategy.
Introduction To The Smugglers Run
The Smugglers Run is one of the three main missions in GTAO. It was originally inspired by the 1999 film The Matrix, in which Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) leads Neo (Keanu Reeves) on a quest to defeat the oppressive forces of the Machine Elders. The original script is based on the comics by Frank Millar, and it was supposed to be one of the highlights of Grand Theft Auto IV (GTA4). Unfortunately, Rockstar couldn’t fit it in the game due to time constraints, and so they released the mission as a free downloadable content (DLC) pack. Players assume the role of legendary crime lord Frank Tenpenny, who hires a team of smugglers to help him transport contraband – namely, illegal immigrants – across the US-Mexico border. The objective is to make a profit while eluding the authorities, and it is probably the most popular and challenging mission in GTAO.
The reason the mission is so popular is because it’s extremely lucrative. The game’s director, Dan Houser, said in a 2013 interview that the profits from the Smugglers Run are meant to represent the ‘high-end’ of crime in GTAO. He went on to say:
“The game’s largest chunk of content was never meant to be included in the main package. It took a lot of time to fit it in, and at one point, we actually had to turn off online play because it was consuming so much memory. We wanted it to feel like a standalone game, and a way for players to really experiment with the different characters and see how they worked.
“The game’s writers loved the idea of this mission, and it stuck in their heads. When we finally got the rights from Paramount Pictures, we were excited to be able to fit it in. For us, it was something new to try out. The only thing more fun is playing as Mr. Tenpenny himself, with all the various abilities that come with the character.”
How To Make A Quick $20,000-30,000 In GTAO?
To begin, let’s get our figures in context. It is important to realize that the game’s prices vary according to the time of day and what region of Los Angeles you are in. For example, the going rate for a kidney is $15,000 in the afternoon, but it is $20,000 in the early morning in Boyle Heights. You would essentially be doing the same thing – smuggling illegals across the border – but in the opposite direction. Kidneys are quite a popular item to smuggle, along with weapons, drugs, and other contraband. There is also an after-hours rate for some jobs, which can be twice as much as the regular price. So, in the interest of simplicity, I have used the after-hours rates in my calculations.
Now that we know how much money can be made in the Smugglers Run, it’s time to figure out how much you need to do it. This is where the strategy comes in. Let’s say you decide to take on the challenge, and you begin your smuggling career. You will start out in San Pedro, a small fishing community on the ocean side of Los Angeles. The first thing you will need to do is hire a team of five smugglers. Each one of them will have different special abilities that you can use to your advantage. You can also find more information about the specific characters here:
- Frank Tenpenny (DLC Character): (VIRTUAL REINCARNATION). The game’s crime lord protagonist, Frank Tenpenny, is looking for new recruits for his team of gun-runners and drug smugglers. He offers you $500 a week plus expenses to run a crew of five in the Smugglers Run. You can also find a link to Frank Tenpenny’s backstory in the mission’s details, when you click on the ‘i’ symbol that appears next to his name.
- Carl Johnson (DLC Character): (EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION). Carl Johnson, the game’s funny-minded gun-runner, is looking for new recruits for his team of five smugglers. He offers you $600 a week plus expenses to work for him in the Dangerous Cargo expedition. In addition to that, he will give you one of his ‘special packages’ – basically a piece of wearable gear that gives you special abilities – after you complete the mission. You can also find a link to Carl Johnson’s backstory in the mission’s details when you click on the ‘i’ symbol that appears next to his name.
- Bobby Shmurda (DLC Character): (MEDITATION & MENTALISM). In the city’s underground, crime lord Bobby Shmurda is always looking for fresh meat for his team of highly-skilled killers. He offers you $1,000 a week plus expenses to work for him in the Black Market expedition. In addition to that, he will give you two of his ‘special packages’ after you complete the mission. You can also find a link to Bobby Shmurda’s backstory in the mission’s details when you click on the ‘i’ symbol that appears next to his name.
- Ricochet (DLC Character): (IMMUNITY). The elusive, rule-breaking street racer, Ricochet, is always looking for the next big score. He offers you $1,500 a week plus expenses to join his team of five racers in the Fast Money expedition. In addition to that, he will give you three of his ‘special packages’ after you complete the mission. You can also find a link to Ricochet’s backstory in the mission’s details when you click on the ‘i’ symbol that appears next to his name.
- Hector Zamorano (DLC Character): (RACIAL PREJUDICE). Hector Zamorano, a former Texas Ranger who is not afraid to use force to get what he wants, is the last you’ll encounter if you decide to complete the GTAO Storyline. He offers you $2,000 a week plus expenses to join his team of five hitmen in the Wanted expedition. In addition to that, he will give you four of his ‘special packages’ after you complete the mission. You can also find a link to Hector Zamorano’s backstory in the mission’s details when you click on the ‘i’ symbol that appears next to his name.
Once you have recruited a team of five, it’s time to gear up for your first heist. Essentially, you will be doing the same thing here as in the Smugglers Run – you will be using your special abilities to help you smuggle people across the border. The catch is that this time, it’s a little different. You will begin the mission in the early morning in San Pedro, and your goal is to smuggle six undocumented immigrants to safety in the nearby hills. When you get across the border, the six immigrants you smuggled will offer you $10,000 each. You can keep the money and help them find jobs, or you can decide to keep some of the money and report the others to the authorities. It is quite a lucrative opportunity, especially since you don’t have to do it alone.