Complete Guide To Red Dead Online's In-Game Economy


Update: In the May 14 update, all Gold payouts in the game were doubled, and 1 gold bar per level was added, affecting the maths involved in the guide below. Not accounting for the bars given for each level, simply multiply values below by two.

Original Guide: Red Dead Online and its economy have been hot topics recently. Grinding for gold in the game is, at this point, highly tedious with the rate of gold acquisition being extremely low, while the prices of items are very high in comparison.

However, if you've ever wondered about specific data, wonder no longer.

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Reddit user jmar_ had put a ton of effort into calculating how quickly you can earn gold bars, collected every item's price into organized tables and analyzed all the data. The picture the result paints isn't particularly pretty, but Rockstar has stated that the purpose of the beta is to fine-tune systems based on player feedback. The very goal of the author's initial post was to provide such feedback in showing the user-unfriendliness of the current system.

Earning Gold

For starters, let's look at just how quickly you can actually earn gold in Red Dead Online. After playing all three online Series 5 times each, the author collected the results to see what the most efficient way to earn gold in the game is.

It is important to note that gold payouts at the end of matches are based on participation, so not only is being AFK a crappy move, it also doesn't earn you anything. Based on the data collected, gold payouts from these modes is generally either 0.04 or 0.08 gold bars (4 or 8 nuggets respectively).

Showdown Series Small

Gamemode Length Pre-Game Lobby length Total Length Win/Loss K/D Gold Earned Cash Earned Experience Earned
Hostile Territory 7:00 1:10 8:10 Won 19/10 0.08 $15.93 303
Name Your Weapon 7:00 2:00 9:00 Won 'MVP' 27/10 0.08 $28.45 495
Make It Count 4:42 2:30 7:12 Lost 0/1 0.04 $5.86 99
Most Wanted 7:00 2:25 9:25 Lost 24/10 0.08 $13.65 296
Hostile Territory 1:30 1:50 3:20 Won 4/1 0 $3.58 61

One of the first things we notice here is that gold payouts are also tied to a timer. If a round is over under a certain amount of time - which is to be determined - there will be no gold payout regardless of outcome or participation. This mechanic was likely introduced to prevent players from exploiting the system, but it also makes certain game modes like Make It Count, where matches tend to last shorter amounts of time, worth significantly less when looking at the gold payouts.

Showdown Series Large

Gamemode Length Pre-Game Lobby length Total Length Win/Loss K/D Gold Earned Cash Earned Experience Earned
Most Wanted 5:50* 2:15 8:05 Lost 21/7 0.08 $22.99 440
Name Your Weapon 7:00 2:00 9:00 Won 'MVP' 20/14 0.08 $18.01 369
Most Wanted 7:00 2:15 9:15 Won 'MVP' 16/6 0.08 $45.84 660
Name Your Weapon 6:00* 1:25 7:25 Lost 'MVP' 15/6 0.08 $22.45 440
Most Wanted 7:00 2:00 9:00 Lost 20/16 0.08 $16.72 527

Data collected in the second series shows us that time seemingly has a greater impact on payouts than actual performance. In two cases, the author joined the match when it was already in progress but in both cases it went on for about 6 more minutes after and resulted in a 0.08 payout.

Race Series

Gamemode Length Pre-Game Lobby length Total Length Win/Loss Gold Earned Cash Earned Experience Earned
Open Race 3:50 1:45 5:35 2nd 0.04 $4.83 110
Race 4:00 1:50 5:50 6th 0.04 $3.06 53
Race 4:15 2:00 6:15 1st 'MVP 0.04 $8.06 143
Open Race 4:00 1:50 5:50 1st 'MVP' 0.04 $10.00 175
Race 4:20 1:50 6:10 2nd 0.04 $8.23 182

An interesting thing to note about race series is that there is no way to earn more than 0.04 gold per race, as that is the top reward. While races are, on average, shorter than showdowns, the disparity between length and payout still makes showdowns the better choice. To earn 0.08 gold, you need to play an average of 12 minutes of racing compared to 9 minutes of showdowns.

Conclusions

The most efficient way to earn gold is to grind Showdown Series Large and switch sessions whenever the Make It Count game mode comes up. The average baseline has been set at 9 minutes for 0.08 gold under ideal circumstances. This brings us to the time needed to earn 1 gold bar with the most efficient way of grinding.

You can earn 1 gold bar in slightly less than two hours, but for the sake of statistics, we'll use 2 hours. To be entirely precise, we're looking at an average of 1.875 hours, but the fluctuations in lobby waiting times, searching for new sessions, and deviations in average match times make 2 hours more realistic.

1 Gold Bar takes 2 hours to earn.

Spending Gold

The rate at which a given currency is earned means nothing on its own, you need to contextualize it with the prices of the commodities said currency can purchase. The purchasing power of gold is what makes this rather bleak, since it is extremely low.

These tables also add up the total prices of all items in each category, though it isn't realistic to assume anyone will buy every variant of every item. Especially in the case of horses this is true, since it isn't even possible to own all horses, though Rockstar may later expand stable capacity. The purposes of these tables are informative, and to provide an overview of prices versus the rate at which gold can be acquired.

It is also important to mention that many of the items which are the best in their category can only be acquired via gold.

Horses

Breed Coat Color Total Price in Gold
Tennessee Walker Flaxen Roan 6
Nokota Reverse Dapple Roan 18
Thoroughbred Brindle 18
American Standardbred Palomino Dapple 6
American Standardbred Silver Tail Buckskin 16
Ardennes Strawberry Roan 18
Hungarian Half Bred Dapple Dark Grey 6
Andalusian Rosegrey 18
Dutch Warmblood Chocolate Roan 18
Appaloosa Leopard 18
Appaloosa Brown Leopard 18
American Paint Splashed White 6
American Paint Grey Overo 17
Mustang Tiger Striped Bay 14
Turkoman Silver 38
Arabian Black 42
Total price in gold bars: 277

Horses are particularly egregious when it comes to gold prices. The best horses in any given breed are gold-only steeds. The best horse in Red Dead Online, the Black Arabian, coasts 42 gold bars which would take 84 hours of non-stop Showdown Series Large grinding to earn. That's more play hours than I have in most games that I've finished. Next to jobs, families and other interests, not to mention wanting to enjoy other aspects of the game as well, this isn't exactly a reasonable state of affairs.

Clothes

Hats Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Short Stovepipe Hat 7 8 56
Worn Stovepipe Hat 4 8 32
Plantation Hat 1 8 8
Cutter Hat 4 8 32
Bolero Hat 8 8 64
Total price for only one variant of each: 24 Total price for every color/variation: 192

Coats Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Duster Coat 1 10 10
Tailcoat 4 10 40
Bison Duster Coat 8 10 80
Hagen Coat 5 10 50
Total price for only one variant of each: 18 Total price for every color/variation: 180

Vests Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Ritchfield Vest 2 10 20
Sheepskin Vest 7 10 70
Opulent Vest 4 10 40
Total price for only one variant of each: 13 Total price for every color/variation: 130

Shirts Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Workshirt 1 10 10
Frumpy Shirt 1 10 10
Donegal Sweater 2 10 20
Union Suit 3 10 30
Total price for only one variant of each: 7 Total price for every color/variation: 70

Pants Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Worn Rolled Pants 1 10 10
Leather Pants 2 10 20
Overalls 2 8 16
Patched Overalls 2 8 16
Total price for only one variant of each: 7 Total price for every color/variation: 62

Boots Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Cobbled Boots 1 10 10
Hightop Moccasins 3 10 30
Tasseled Coupar Boots 5 10 50
Preacher's Boots 6 10 60
Total price for only one variant of each: 15 Total price for every color/variation: 150

Accessories Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Multi-Tone Half Chaps 4 10 40
Batwing Chaps 3 10 30
Rifleman Gloves 2 10 20
Calvary Gloves 5 10 50
Gathered Bandana 2 8 16
Trimmed Bandana 2 8 16
Bow Tie 1 10 10
Neat String Tie 1 10 10
Rope Suspenders 1 10 10
Vaquero Spurs 3 10 30
Stenger Deluxe Spurs 2 10 20
Total price for only one variant of each: 26 Total price for every color/variation: 252

Weapon Equipment Gold Bar Price Colors Total Price in Gold
Gunslinger Gun Belt 1 4 4
Embossed Gunslinger Gun Belt 2 4 8
Studded Bandit Gun Belt 3 4 12
Rope Gun Belt 1 4 4
Gunslinger Holster 1 4 4
Embossed Gunslinger Holster 2 4 8
Studded Bandit Holster 3 4 12
Rope Holster 1 4 4
Total price for only one variant of each: 15 Total price for every color/variation: 56

Final price for one of every item: 125 Final price for one of every item and color: 1092


While clothes, on first glance, are more reasonably priced than horses or weapon customization (we'll get to that next) they perfectly highlight the problem with the economy in Red Dead Online. If you want a full outfit comprised entirely of gold-only clothing items, you'll need to spend around 60 hours of grinding. 60 hours for an outfit.

Weapon Customization

Weapon Price to fully customise in Gold
Cattleman Revolver x2 60
Semi Automatic Pistol x2 50
Carbine Repeater 30
Lancaster Repeater 30
Litchfield Repeater 30
Varmint Rifle 30
Bolt Action Rifle 30
Rolling Block Rifle 30
Pump Action Shotgun 30
Double Action Revolver x2 60
Schofield Revolver x2 60
Volcanic Pistol x2 60
Mauser Pistol x2 60
Springfield Rifle 30
Carcano Rifle 25
Sawed-Off Shotgun x2 60
Double Barrel Shotgun 30
Semi-Auto Shotgun 25
Repeating Shotgun 30
Knife 5

Total price to fully customize all weapons: 765 Gold Bars

This is where we get to the worst part of all this. The weapon customizations in the game cost the most for the least return on investment. The main problem with weapon customization is that it is one-time. If you buy a weapon skin, but then want to change it, it won't stay unlocked, and if you want to switch back you'll need to pay the full price once more. This seems like a particularly shady move, and hopefully based on feedback Rockstar will amend this and make customizations stay unlocked after purchasing them.

Now, as for the prices themselves - since weapons have multiple parts that are customized independently, getting unified weapon skins will cost a lot. For a full gold skin, you can expect to pay 30 gold bars, meaning 60 for dual sidearms, which adds up to 120 hours of grinding to get two matching guns gold plated. If things don't change, weapon skins will become status symbols in the game for players wanting to advertise how much money they spend on microtransactions.

Conclusions

In the current state of Red Dead Online's economy, if you'd want to purchase every single item in the game, it would cost 2,134 bars of gold, which translates into 4268 hours of pure grinding. That's 177 days.

Now, obviously nobody will every aim for that, and instead you'll all pick those particular items that interest you and buy them, however the grinding required of individual items is also uncomfortably high.

Based on these numbers, you should provide feedback to Rockstar during the Beta period in the hopes that the economy will be adjusted.


Aron Gerencser
Aron is up to date on all the daily happenings with regard to Red Dead Redemption 2 and that's why you'll find he posts most of the news here at RDR2.org. Aron is also a massive fan of Rockstar Games' other smash hit, Grand Theft Auto V. You can find Aron on Facebook.