Red Dead Online

It was only a matter of time before Red Dead Online‘s gold payouts got nerfed, and that time has come. Back in the glory days (meaning 2020, mostly), you could farm daily challenges and end up with your pockets stuffed with gold for your efforts. But when Red Dead Online became its own standalone game, gold payouts changed, so Rockstar could squeeze some cash out of folks who had gotten their hands on the best open-world multiplayer Western that has ever existed for a mere five bucks.

So how much have things actually changed? Well, I wanted to sit down and do some math to find out.

Before the nerf, you would get 0.2 gold for every daily challenge you completed. There are seven basic daily challenges, which means you could earn an easy 1.4 gold bars by doing all seven. On top of that, there was a bonus of 0.6 gold for having completed all seven, bringing the total to 2 gold bars.

Plus, there are three daily challenges per Role. The game now has five roles, meaning you have a pool of 15 additional challenges to choose from. Before the Naturalist role was added, you could do 12 Role challenges per day. After the Naturalist role was added, you now had 15 challenges to choose from, but you can only do nine. If you could complete nine challenges (out of your pool of 15), you were rewarded with another 0.6 gold payout. So this means that in either case, you could make another 2.4 gold bars. So if you did as many challenges as possible, you could make 4.4 gold bars in a day.

Red Dead Online

But it gets even better.

If you could do at least one challenge per day, you would earn a streak bonus and start hitting multipliers. After the first week, you’d get a 1.5x multiplier, putting your gold potential up to 6.6 per day. After another week, you would get a multiplier of 2x, putting you up to 8.8 gold bars per day. And then, after another week, you’d get a 2.5x multiplier, bringing you up to 11 gold bars per day. This multiplier would last for as long as you managed to complete at least one challenge per day to keep your streak alive.

In the new system, gold payouts were cut in half. That means your earning potential is now only 5.5 gold bars per day rather than 11.

So let’s add up what your maximum earning potential was for a 28-day period in both systems.

Under the old system, in your your first week, you’d earn 30.8 gold for completing every possible daily challenge (that’s 4.4 x 7). Your second week, you could earn 46.2 gold bars (6.6 x 7), your third week you could earn 61.6 gold bars (8.8 x7), and your fourth week, you could earn 77 gold bars (11 x 7).

So under the old system, you could earn 215.6 gold bars (30.8 + 46.2 + 61.6 + 77) in your first 28 days. After that point, you would earn a treasure map, and then continue to earn gold with a multiplier of 2.5x.

And in your second 28-day period, you could earn 308 gold bars (11 x 28).

Red Dead Online

Under the new system, gold payouts were halved (0.1 gold per challenge, with a 0.3 gold completion bonus). That reduces your 28-day potential to 107.8 gold bars compared to 215.6. This gets even worse in your second month, because the new system resets your multiplier after 28 days no matter what (you do still get a treasure map for hitting a 28-day streak, though).

Under the old system, you could earn 308 gold bars in your second 28-day period. Under the new system, you can only earn 107.8 gold in your second 28-day period. Yes, this means that gold payouts for loyal challenge streakers has been reduced to about 1/3 of its initial potential.

Daily challenges used to be the fastest way to earn gold in Red Dead Online (aside from actually buying it with real-world money). This is no longer the case.

I should point out that other methods of farming gold don’t seem to have changed (and if they did change, those changes have been too small for me to really notice — I haven’t done extensive experiments with this yet).

I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but this change really doesn’t affect me anymore. I’ve purchased everything I want to with my gold bars, and I have a stockpile of just under 500 gold bars sitting in my account. When new stuff gets added to the game that costs gold bars, I just buy it without thinking about it.

For new players, however, this makes earning gold a huge freaking grind. Since it costs 15 gold to buy into each “starter” role, and 25 gold to buy into each “advanced” role (plus the extra i5 gold to buy into the Prestigious second tier of the Bounty Hunter role), you’re looking at spending 110 gold bars just to lay the basic groundwork for your Red Dead Online empire. And you really, really want to buy into those Roles ASAP.

Obviously, this was done to encourage people to pay real-world money for gold bars.

Red Dead Online

I have mixed feelings about this, actually. And since writing all of this has really put me into a mathy mood, let’s look at a few more numbers here.

I bought Red Dead Redemption 2 brand new for $60, and I bought a second copy half-off for $30 so I could play it with my bandmate. I then bought a copy of RDO for PC at $5 just to see what my laptop was capable of. This means I spent $95 on RDO, not including taxes (I never once paid for gold bars). You can buy 245 gold bars for $74.99. If you bought the game for $5, and spent $75 on gold, you still paid less for Red Dead Online than I did, and you have 245 gold bars in your account without having to do a thing in the game.

Even so, my advice to new players is to earn the gold yourself. It’s tedious, absolutely. The early levels of RDO completely suck, and everything is stacked against you. But when you finally crack it, when you finally toil your way into the big bucks, well, you just feel damn proud of yourself.

And if you need any inspiration for this massive and exhausting undtertaking, take a note from our old friend John Marston.

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