Rockstar is known for having some of the most beloved video game franchises of all time, Red Dead, Midnight Club, Max Payne, Manhunt and of course Grand Theft Auto. But in the past couple years we have seen no other titles released outside of GTA. A lot of that can be narrowed down to the success of GTA: Online.
Grand Theft Auto has been a juggernaut in the video game industry, ever since GTA III was released on consoles. The series has done nothing but grow in popularity and success over time though, as Grand Theft Auto V recently became the most sold game of all time.
That accomplishment is even more impressive when you realize its fulfilled that feat, as well as placing in the top-selling spot each month for games sold on console and PC, four years after its initial release in 2013. Alongside its usual impressive single player campaign, Rockstar drastically improved the multiplayer, GTA: Online.
It’s because of those improvements that we haven’t seen any new IPs or sequels released, let alone being talked about (aside from RD2). Instead of developing and releasing an average of at least a game a year from 2008 to 2013 (with L.A Noire being an exception as publisher), time and effort have been put into updates for GTA: Online. Those updates usual add unique game modes surrounding deathmatches, races, and missions.
Like most video games, these events give out experience and money that can be used on weapons, cars, and aesthetic items. But for those that have the money to pay for it, there are microtransactions that will grant the user in-game currency as well.
Microtransactions have been a hot-button issue in the video game industry for a while, carrying the stigma that they exist simply for people to pay to win. While there are plenty of games where that is true, the other side of the argument is that some people simply don’t have the time to earn the in-game currency necessary to do certain things, but have the money instead.
Regardless of your opinions on microtransactions in the game, they are earning Rockstar more profit wise than most full video games. During a lawsuit filed by Rockstar North President Leslie Benzie against Take-Two for $150 million allegedly owed in royalties, it was revealed that at least $500 million in revenue had been made from microtransactions in GTA: Online.
To put that in perspective, as of 2016, when the information was revealed, Grand Theft Auto V had seen a $65 Million profit. Obviously, since it’s the profit, that doesn’t take into account the total sales but instead weighs those total sales vs the amount spent creating the game.
Red Dead Redemption most certainly made a profit, but it was also one of the most expensive games ever made, even now, costing $80-$100 Million to make. That means that it started with a huge handicap, even if it made bookoo bucks.
Make no doubt about it, video games are a time-consuming expensive industry, as games often put millions more into the project than they get out of it, not to mention the manpower that goes into it.
So why waste the money, manpower, time and resources to make a new game every year if you can see more profit just by updating the existing product. While it’s still not necessarily a cakewalk to make new content to entice the user base, it’s still a lot less cumbersome than the process of making a new game.
With that all in mind, it has been confirmed that Rockstar is currently developing Red Dead Redemption 2. No release date has been announced, but it is currently slated for 2018.
The original Red Dead Redemption, which itself was a sequel to Red Dead Revolver, released in 2010, featuring very similar gameplay to GTA. The key difference was that the game was set in the old west. Ever since its announcement, many have speculated that RD2 would follow suit in GTA: Online’s format, given how similar the titles are gameplay-wise already.
If that is indeed the case, we might see an even bigger implementation from the get-go with the wild west sequel. Red Dead Redemption listed by many as one of the greatest video games of all time thanks to the story and gameplay that take place in its single player.
While it did feature multiplayer, it was not as touted as the single player. Alongside that, while the online play also featured an open hub world filled gang hideouts to conquer with up to 15 other players and also mini-games – it wasn’t as expensive as GTA.
If online and microtransactions are implemented in Red Dead Redemption 2, it could go either way. Some fans may hate it, simply because what they loved about the original was the single player. Yet others may love it, just like they have with GTA: Online.
If I was a betting man myself, I’d imagine it would be the latter, because there is always going to be a market for microtransactions, especially with amazing games like the ones Rockstar puts out.