I do enjoy a romp around the world of GTA…but sometimes I’m struck by the absurdity of life in that city if it were real. Think about the movie ‘Wreck It Ralph‘, where every game character is a real person in a digital world that we just view. It makes you think about what it would be like to live in this digital world as an NPC. Hence, I thought it might make for a funny blog-post.

I thought I’d do these as a little series of blog posts as a change from the normal book related stuff. So, for this first humorous look into the life of an NPC, I’m going to look at…


I’ve been seeing trailers for the new Ryan Reynolds movie ‘FREE GUY’ lately, and it obviously reminds me of playing Grand Theft Auto:Online. It also reminded me (as did a comment on my previous GTA thread) that I was going to do a series of comic observation posts.

I’m WAY overdue for post number two, so here it is.

They say that ‘crime doesn’t pay’ and maybe that’s true in real life, but in the confines of GTA:Online, the economics definitely don’t add up.

Now, before I go any further in this blog post, I just want to hold my hands up and say that I have no real life experience in the criminal underworld. The totality of my knowledge of this shady world comes from watching Breaking Bad and spending many hours in the virtual world..

So, don’t take any of this blog post too seriously, I’m simply emptying my head of the thoughts I have when I play this game sometimes.

Okay, so here we go…


The one core concept of GTA:Online, is that it is fun to be a criminal.

The more audacious the crime, the better the thrill and excitement! (and of course, the payout!)

That said, some things don’t stack up when you think about them too closely.

A little bit of googling got me to the following numbers.

GTA:Online takes place in a fictional version of Los Angeles called Los Santos. According to google, the NPC population of Los Santos is estimated to be around 4 million people. Which sounds maybe a little on the high side considering that the population of Los Angeles in the real world is supposedly the same number.

I mean, take a look at this picture I found online as a comparison…

The little yellow box is Los Santos…so yeah, there’s a bit of a size discrepancy!


But, let’s just roll with the fact that that teeny tiny ‘village’ has a population of 4 million people, as crazy as that may be, because here’s another number for you…

The current player base for GTA:Online is 140 million.
By my math, that means each of the ‘civilians’ of Los Santos is outnumbered by their player counterparts by a factor of 35 to 1.

But of course that makes NO sense.  So let’s make those numbers a little more realistic.

The official figures list the number of players in June 2021 as being a smidge over 1 million.
Now even I can work out the math on that one. It’s a 4-to-1 relationship between NPCs and Players in game.

Now some people might say, “But Jon, only 30 people or so can be logged into a server at anyone time, so surely that ratio is more like 133,333-to-1?”

Fine, you make a good point. More complex math required.

Yet, it’s not quite that simple. Players log in and out all the time. So let’s say, just for fun, that the average player loiters in the world of GTA:Online for 10 hours of play time a week. Maybe an hour or two after work on an odd night, and a few hours at the weekend. Obviously some people will play more, and others less. But to make our calculations easy, let’s go with 10 hours.

So, at 10 hours a week that works out at 1 hour and 15 mins per day.

Which means that you could have almost 17 players logging in and out back to back to fill one server slot over a 24 hr period. We know there are 30 server slots, so that is a calculated maximum of 508 players per day.

Let’s round that to a nice 500, just to be pleasing to the eye.

Okay, so one more bit of math, and then I promise we’re done.

US Statistics have reckon that approximately 11.7% of the US population are drug users of some kind. So in Los Santos, with a population of 4 million, that would mean that 468,000 NPC’s are habitually using.

Which is understandable due to the high pressure nature of the city…

(Let’s spare them a thought for a moment. Remember these are NPC’s in a computer game. They have no free will. They were created and programmed to do what they are doing. Can you imagine it? Being trapped in a dangerous city and being forced to buy drugs by your programming? How come Neo never touched upon this problem in the Matrix?)

Anyhoo, here’s our final numbers…

468,000 NPC and 500 players.
Our final ratio: 936 NPC’s per player.


Now I do indulge in the criminal endeavors of the city, as do most players.

For starters, you can set up five key businesses. Three of them deal in some form of drug trafficking.

Cocaine, Meth and Weed.

(I also do a neat sideline in Counterfeit Cash, Fake ID’s, Gun-running, smuggling, robbing banks and casinos, prison breaks, stolen cars, store robberies, mugging and I also run a mean chop-shop. And that’s not a complete list of my illegal online shenanigans! Anyway, I digress!)

Just like all the other players, I’m running narcotics into Los Santos in HUGE quantities (Post vans, helicopters, garbage lorries, planes, motorcycle couriers…you name it I use it!)
Suffice to say, the 936 NPC’s who are my VERY regular customers must be high as a kite 24/7 on the sheer amount of illegal drugs they are consuming on a daily basis.

Which brings me to my next point…


So my NPC customers are buying from me a very steady supply of narcotics of all descriptions.

Which is great for me, because as a Master Criminal I’m rolling in the green. But where are the ordinary citizens of Los Santos getting enough money to pay me?

I had a few thoughts on that.

Firstly, the cost of living in Los Santos must be crazy high.

Take buying and running a car.

We talked a little about this in my last GTA related post, and while buying a car is within the realms of possibility, it really depends on what you want to buy.

If there’s one positive thing I’d say about Los Santos, the local Governors (or whatever it is that makes the law here) have obviously legislated to encourage Climate Change. If you’re buying a car it makes MUCH more sense to buy new. Everyone knows old cars are dirty and bad for the environment, while brand spanky cars keep the fishes clean, the birds tweeting and the economy rolling along.

For example.

Would you like a Mini?  The equivalent in GTA:Online is the Issi and it comes in two flavors. The modern or the classic.
Here’s the comparison:

(Image from GTABASE.COM)

Yup, you can have a shiny new one for a mere $18K, while the classic will set you back $360k.

(Just to compare online to real life… You can buy a brand spanky new mini from $22k and the used for $40k!)

The divide gets worse it you want to buy something with a bit of oomph. 

Fancy an Audi?  Well in GTA:Online they’re called Obey, and it you’d like the equivalent of the Audi A6, you’ll be looked at the Obey Tailgater, a mere snip at $55k.

But if you want the sports version, the Tailgater S…  Yeah, that’ll set you back a cooll $1.5 million.

(Image from GTABASE.COM)

So you see, the cost of car ownership is not low if you want something more upmarket or classic. 

Plus of course there’s the medical bills to consider in GTA:Online. If you read my last GTA Blog post, you’d have seen all the ways you can have your car destroyed. Well it’s worse when you’re an NPC and you’re not in your car. You can litereally be killed by anyone, at any time and in any way. 

One minute you’re walking down the sidewalk midning your own business and suddenly you’re hit by a player who is either a) doing it for the giggles, b) doing it because they lost control of their car, or c) accidentally mowed you down as they were escaping the police.  Worse still, they might miss you entirely and you might STILL get killed under the wheels of the pursing cop cars!

Or imagine you’ve gone to the beach with your NPC cums to enjoy a little sun, seas and jetski. You’ve laid out your towel on the golden sand, rubbed the suncream into your sensitive skin and then WHAM!  A cargo plane lands on you.

Death is never far away for the NPC in Los Santos, hence the insurance premiums and medical bills must be CRAZY HIGH!

So high in fact, I think I’ve figured it out…


It’s the COPS.  It HAS to be.

Think about it.

In any random car chase through the streets of Los Santos, I probably routinely destroy around twenty of so pursuing cop cars. I also destroy a fair amout of police helicopters. 

Not all the cops that are in said cars or helicopters perish, I’d imagine a far amount of them survive but need some time in hospital. But still, a great many of those fine men in blue need to be recruited every day to replace the heavy losses they suffer in the fight against crime. 

Hence the perks must be amazing and the pay must be FANTASTIC to entice NPC’s to undertake the most dangerous job in the game. 

So it’s established the the Cops therefore must be paid like Lebron James in order to do their jobs. 

Jobs that are sooooo high pressure that the only way to take the edge off must be to take copious amounts of drugs. 

So there you have it.

The citizens of Los Santos who can actually afford to buy and need to use the copious amount of illegal substances that the players of GTA:Online sell in game, are the very same ones who are trying to actively prevent our criminal enterprises.

The logic is unassailable.

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  1. Acro

    Wow, talk about ask and you shall receive – that was quick, Jon! This read was well worth the wait! Personally, I think Neo couldn’t have helped. He’s probably one of the NPC. Think about it. Neo spent four movies, just wandering around, raising bizarre philosophical questions, and acting like everything was so profound. He was probably on a meth bender and had been up for days. I agree with you about the cops, though. Your logic is flawless there!

    • Jon Ford

      LOL The thought of who exactly is consuming all the illegal goods we sell in the city has been something that has amused my thoughts for a while. Now I need to think up what I can talk about next!

      • Jim Hall

        In a fictional world, any drug can be addictive if it’s strong enough. Make no one immune.

        Sounds mean, but it’s fiction.

        Keep up the good work, buddy.

        • Jon Ford

          I mean, the whole city must be addicted at the rate we’re peddling illegal substances! LOL

  2. mdnght scribe

    I don’t recommend reading this blog post in public. I probably look like a loon as I’m snort-laughing. I used to love the game, but felt it got stale after the zillionth iteration. I believe your theory is spot-on about the coppers.

    • Jon Ford

      Honestly, I float in and out of GTA Online. I’ve been drawn in lately by the latest ‘Car Meet’ updates. I do love cars! LOL
      But I’m also playing… The Witcher 3, Control, Ascent, Destroy All Humans, Diablo 3, Red Dead Redemption, Drake Hollow, and Nier Automata… I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch too.

  3. JennieP

    I loved this one! I think you’re spot on! It’s the cops… crazy jobs and to deal, drugs.
    I stopped playing this game about a year ago. Honestly, I have never put as much thought into it – I just played. I find these blog posts pretty funny. Looking forward to your next one.

    • Jon Ford

      hehe, I’ve always wondered how the city of Los Santos replaces the cops it loses in the line of duty… because it’s A LOT!!!
      The more you dive into the game world, the less logical sense it makes. But I do love it. LOL

      • Acro

        During a difficult bout of insomnia, I wondered the same because the cops seem totally expendable. Who on earth would sign up for that? It’s not for the glory, since none of the fanfare goes their way. So I figured they must be robots because that’s the only way I could make it logical. I have to say that I like your theory better. It’s more fun.

        • Jon Ford

          ROBOTS!! Of course! LOL
          But then… who’s buying all my illegal goods? Hmmmm!

          • Karie

            Well if the cops are robots, they aren’t peddling or buying the drugs! Well, maybe selling!
            I love these blog posts! They make me laugh! I have only played this one a few times.

  4. Leffew

    I can’t say I’ve ever played it, but the game sounds interesting, and your writing is hilarious! Do you think this is where you subconsciously got the inspiration to have Gayle and Allyson Knightley struggle with addictions?

    • Jon Ford

      No, that had always been the plan for Gayle and Allyson. I hadn’t really thought about the drug thing in GTA Online until I was looking for something funny to write about it, and my friends and I were doing our ‘delivery’ missions and I was suddenly thinking about how many illegal operations there are in a relatively small city. It just seemed comical to me. I think my next one may be on why there are no children in Los Santos… LOL
      You’ll find out a bit more about why in book 2 – Blood to Earth, where Gayle’s addiction struggles will take centre stage.

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