Back during the PS3 and Xbox 360-era, players were almost spoilt for choice when it came to Rockstar Games published titles. Since then though, the publisher’s goals and release schedule have both changed dramatically. It’s remarkable to think that, following the initial launch of Grand Theft Auto 5 in 2013, only one completely-new Rockstar-labeled game has hit store shelves. Now, even the long-term future of Red Dead Redemption is seemingly up in the air.
Thanks to the runaway success of GTA 5, Rockstar Games has re-focused most of its attention and resources toward its modern-day crime simulator. This pivot has been particularly noticeable thanks to Red Dead Redemption 2, and the issues surrounding it that fans have been talking about for years. For multiple reasons though, the publisher shouldn’t let this series join other beloved classics like bully and Midnight Club in its forgotten back catalog.
Red Dead Online’s Status
Despite its continuing popularity and critical acclaim, Red Dead Redemption 2‘s multiplayer modes have often felt like an afterthought on Rockstar Games’ part. In comparison to the near decade old GTA Online, Red Dead Online‘s own updates have often been lacking from both a content and scope perspective. Even though fans have been voicing their frustration on this subject for years, the publisher has failed to address these concerns in any meaningful way. Instead, GTA 5‘s multiplayer modes have been expanded even more with big story-based expansions.
It’s become clear since the arrival of Grand Theft Auto 5 that Rockstar Games is determined to get as much money as it can out of its blockbuster. To some extent, there’s logic to this approach. After all, to date it’s estimated that the game and its various re-releases have sold over 160 million copies. With GTA 5‘s recent arrival on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, it’s easy to see this number climbing even more over the course of the ongoing console generation. Considering how the online portion of the game and its ever-evolving world has been a big part of this success, there’s no denying that expansions benefit the publisher.
Focusing so much attention on one game and its online modes could be an issue for Rockstar Games in the long-run, though. Only green-lighting projects and significant updates to projects that it believes can reach similar levels will leave the publisher’s release schedule even more barren than it currently is. It’s worth keeping in mind that GTA 5 is the second-highest selling game of all time, so it’s unreasonable in some respects to expect every release to reach that lofty standard. Realistically, no game can really compete on that level.
The fact that Rockstar’s expectations have still seemingly impacted Red Dead Online‘s support has made some fans question its commitment to the series in-general. Things have gotten so heated in recent weeks that the CEO of the publisher’s parent company has had to address the ongoing #SaveRedDeadOnline campaign. Even though Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick has assured players that more content is coming, the vagueness of his statement has left Red Dead‘s long-term future in question. With so many games having met similar fates, more committed steps should be taken to make sure the series isn’t relegated to the past as well.
Red Dead Remastered
Based on Rockstar Games’ release schedule, it’s clear that the publisher is focused on modernizing parts of its back catalog instead of creating brand-new titles. In an effort to seemingly drive down costs and risk, games like the Max Payne remasters are being put into development to support its ongoing GTA: Online efforts. It’s telling how committed Rockstar is to this strategy, that Grand Theft Auto 6 is itself yet to be officially announced. Even if the publisher is against creating significant content for Red Dead‘s own ongoing multiplayer mode, it shouldn’t completely forget about the cowboy-themed franchise all together.
The release of a remastered Red Dead Redemptionor even a remake of the PS2-era Red Dead Revolver, would be ideal on a number of fronts. Not only would it fit in with Rockstar Games’ current content strategy, it would likely keep the franchise from succumbing to the same fate that a lot of its other classics have. From a fan perspective in particular, it’s easy to imagine a singleplayer re-release of either game going some way to easing the concerns that are currently circulating on the internet.
Even though some of its dormant franchises like bully and night club are beloved by their fan-bases, it can be argued that Red Dead has reached peaks that are slightly above them. It might not have met the lofty sales goals that Rockstar Games has seemingly set for itself, but Red Dead Redemption 2‘s 43 million sales are impressive by most standards. With there currently being a demand for singleplayer-centric content, there’s no why reason a Red Dead remaster wouldn’t do well on modern consoles. Provided at least that Rockstar treats it with more care than it did the recent GTA Trilogy re-release.
Rockstar’s New Games
Even though remasters are a good way to keep a franchise in the spotlight, what fans really want most of the time is brand-new installments. Based on the impact that the Red Dead series has had from a commercial and critical perspective, it’s fair to say that a third Redemption title would be more than justified. With the whole Wild West as its backdrop, the possibilities for Rockstar when it comes to the stories it could tell are almost endless. Fans have been crying out for more, as evidenced by the Red Dead Online complaints, so it’s conceivable that many would happily pay for a new game.
From a logistical perspective, it can be argued that Rockstar Games is large enough to handle the development of new titles in its classic franchises. Provided it can continue to address the sub-par working conditions its employees have been subjected to in recent years. It’s estimated that across its 10 development and support studios, the publisher currently employs over 2,000 staff members. No matter how successful the game is, it seems almost inconceivable that a lot of these creative people are seemingly being asked to work solely on GTA Online.
Last year, Take-Two’s Strauss Zelnick suggested that new Red Dead games could theoretically happen in the future. Albeit, as rare blockbuster occurrences. Considering how franchises like bully and Midnight Club have already faded from the spotlight, despite their obvious appeal, the concerns that Red Dead fans have are justified. In recent years, games like all three franchise’s have become rarer, to the point that the publisher is almost the only gig in town that makes them. It’s for this reason that Rockstar needs to rethink its strategy and practices before it becomes a one-trick pony.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.
MORE: Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Deserves a Remaster
Doctor Strange 2 Features The MCU’s Greatest Villain (So Far)