None of us have said shark cards aren't optional. It's not about if something is optional or not. What matters is how the option affects the game. I'm pretty sure that cheating is optional...the same way that murdering is optional. We still look down on the option to cheat and murder. Just because 'it's optional' doesn't mean it's excused from being a bad thing?
Surely, if you've played the game, you'd understand what a grindfest it is, and the option to buy a shark card is a way of skipping that. Those who don't have the money or don't want to give R* another $100 just to get 8 million for a yacht won't buy shark cards. It sounds pretty ridiculous if you actually see the prices you are expected to pay for in-game currency. Mobile games do the same, but they didn't cost anything! You have to buy the game, first!
I just don't understand how it is affecting you. There are other ways of going around it too. You have the option to pay for supplies instead of stealing, pay to get cops off of you, and you can also pay to make yourself and your crew disappear to get to your destination.
In other words, TIME IS MONEY. It's always been like this. Not trying to argue but you say that other games do it but they are free. They are not. You have to deal with having to watch commercials for it to be free, so it's taking time from the game.
Good lord, how do you not understand this? Shark cards make them money; you earning your GTA$ by grinding does not; therefore they make the grind long, slow, dull and difficult. That affects every single person who doesn't glitch for 100% of their income. It has affected you, me, and every person who has replied to this thread.
And the "workarounds" you mentioned are just things that increase your costs and reduce your payout. So yeah they make things easier, but they also make it pay less (net output), so you have to still grind as long as anybody else. I mean, I buy my bunker supplies because I can't be bothered to do sourcing anymore, but the result of that is that my sales come out to 135K profit instead of 210K. They price the supplies just to the point that it's essentially a wash - if I was willing to flog those repetitive, long-ass missions just like I flog the sale missions, I'd probably make almost exactly the same amount of money per hour.
The questions you should be asking yourself are these:
1 - Is the GTA Online model (grind for money to buy stuff, pay for shark cards to circumvent the grind) a good model? If it's not, is there a competing model that could replace it such that we still get regular content updates and also are engaged with the game long-term? (I believe the answer is that the model is bad and there are better ones, but I'll save that for another time.)
2 - If the model itself is OK (debatable, but subjective), have they tweaked it to a point where there is a reasonable balance between our need to have fun playing a game we bought, and their need to make money? I would argue the answer is no, and that they erred (hugely) on the side of their bottom line. Everything costs WAY too much, and earning money to buy all these multi-million dollar vehicles and properties takes WAY too long. That is anti-fun. It is a rare gamer that enjoys grinding missions over and over again, especially when many of them take forever to do because Rockstar intentionally makes you travel back and forth across the entire map to do them.*
* Just to point out one example out of dozens, I feel dread in my soul when I get the hangar mission involving the stunt plane. Why? My hangar is at LSIA, most of the stunts are in the city. I can quickly bang out the part of the mission that is actually interesting. But then I have to spend 6+ minutes flying all the way to Paleto Bay, blowing up a truck with the supplies in it (because otherwise it's a ridiculously long drive back), calling in a new vehicle because I probably destroyed the plane trying to land it, and then going all the way back to the extreme opposite end of the map. This is a job that is about 1/5 doing something fun, and 4/5 trying to stay awake through the most boring sh*t that has ever existed. Too many missions are like that, and most of those missions don't pay anywhere near what they should for the time I'm putting in.