Thank you Rockstar Games. After what feels like years of anticipation and numerous ‘leaks’ divulging snippets of intriguing details from plot to map sizes, Red Dead Redemption 2 has been announced for Fall 2017. However, does this really mean that the sequel to the beloved 2010 western will in fact launch before next Christmas?
Delays are an all too familiar trend in the gaming industry, in fact the entire entertainment industry as a whole! (We’re looking at you, George R.R Martin). Delays are necessary and typically a good thing as it gives developers much needed to time to polish their ambitious pieces of art and fine tune any problems arising. Aside from the occasional blunder such as Duke Nukem Forever where a delay of ten years may have been a bit extravagant… Even an excessive delay can work as The Last Guardian has finally gone gold!
Over the last week Rockstar’s social media outlets have trickled out just THREE images and the internet went into a frenzy. One of the said pictures was simply the Rockstar Games logo with a red background yet I like many other, began to speculate as to what it could mean? It had to be next installment in the western open world series but when would it arrive?
The bittersweet news arrived today that Red Dead Redemption 2 will arrive in fall 2017. I’m not surprised but I’m a little disappointed. A year away, an entire year. I then began to think, will it be a year?
I part of me, probably the desperate and naive part, thought that as Rockstar Games could literally live up to their namesake and drop the game in 2016. A month of heavy advertising would provide all the build up they needed. It would reduce their promotional costs and in a few, pain painstakingly slow weeks, we’d be riding horses into the sunset.
The most exciting moment from E3 2015 was the reveal of Fallout 4. Sure, rumors about the game and location had been circulating around the internet for months, even years, however Bethesda remained silent on the game. When Todd Howard took to the Bethesda stage and announced that the game not only existed but would release in a few months, the industry erupted in to joyous celebration. The huge, open world RPG would go on to be one of the best selling games of 2015.
The developers had allegedly completed the game by the time of the reveal. They used the further four months to tweak the game and fix bugs. Now as we know, Fallout 4 had it’s technical issues but that is part of Fallout charm yet the game arrived on stores shelves exactly when they intended. Did the late reveal reduce sales? Was the hype any less? Quite the opposite, gamers responded positively and the shorter advertising campaign could only have been a blessing for the publisher’s wallet.
This is what disappoints me about Rockstar’s announcement. Red Dead Redemption 2 is more than a year away. We have our first trailer now and it looks incredible but would have announcing the title next year really have affected the overall success? And will it truly arrive in 2017 or follow the disappointing trend so many other games have suffered with recently.
The biggest complaint I personally have about delays is how early developers and publishers alike decide to announce their games. I understand that their financial benefits for shareholders and forecasts alike yet Rockstar Games are one of the few elite developers who can certainly play by their own rules. Not unlike Valve who could seemingly drop Half Life 3 into the steam store and millions of wide-eyed enthusiasts would crash the server trying to get it.
If you look at the start of 2017, the gaming calendar is surprisingly busy. Ghost Recon Wildlands, South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Mass Effect Andromeda, Horizon: Zero Dawn… The list goes on. So why are all of these huge titles releasing at the beginning of a new year? Because they were all delayed from 2016.
As I previously mentioned, delays typically improve the final experience we receive but I ask the question, why state a release date so soon? Why release trailers and screenshots years in advance?
The reason why an RDR 2 delay could be so detrimental to the gaming calendar is because Rockstar has a history of delaying their titles. GTA IV was delayed by six months with the sequel, GTA V mirroring it’s predecessors delay. Max Payne 3 and even the original Red Dead Redemption were delayed by a couple of months which, in the Christmas period, could force a game to miss the illustrious Black Friday.
If my fears are realized and we do not see Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2017, I can rest assured that the final product will reflect the time and hard work put into the game. However, I worry about the blank space a delay could leave remaining in the gaming calendar.
What publisher or developer would dare compete with Rockstar for a share of the market? GTA V has now sold over 60 million copies, making it one of the best-selling games of all time. We need to play the next project by the famed developer and Red Dead Redemption 2 is it. Last year, Rise of The Tomb Raider was one of my favorite games and the majority of gaming journalists shared my thoughts. Sadly, the critically acclaimed game released on the same day as the juggernaut that is Fallout 4. Needless to say, Tomb Raider sales were far lower than they should have been and sadly, the fantastic game was overlooked by many.
If Red Dead Redemption 2 launches in October or November, how far will other companies go to avoid the wrath of Rockstar? Will releasing a game weeks before or after allow their own games space to flourish or will they be deprived of the limelight by Read Dead’s shadow? Perhaps a month is enough space or just like we have seen this holiday season, The beginning of 2018 would be a safer habitat?
Regardless of how the competition plan their attack, what happens if RDR 2 is delayed? We may find ourselves in a strange, baron period without any new games during the typical busiest time of the gaming year.
I hope that Red Dead Redemption 2 does in fact release in 2017. Rockstar Games are one of my favorite developers and I cannot wait to see what they have planned for their next endeavor. Sadly, I feel that announcing a game so early is unnecessary. We all knew RDR 2 existed and sometimes that is enough. Hundreds of games will release between now and RDR 2 and I want to play as many of them as possible. Knowing Red Dead is on the horizon is great but now my expectations have been set and please do not disappoint me with another delay which we have seen too many of as late.