The recent buzz around Red Dead Redemption 2 has ignited the gaming sphere with anticipation ever since the reveal of the project, with most people being ecstatic about the announcement of Rockstar’s first new project in five years. However, players have also become concerned about the impact of the new game on the current reigning king – GTA Online.
The main source of the concerns is the fact that Rockstar has revealed along with the announcement of the game that Red Dead Redemption 2 will contain a dedicated multiplayer mode. While this was present in the original RDR, it wasn’t as in-depth as 2013’s GTA Online. After Take-Two nabbed the Red Dead Online domain name, it became pretty clear that the company is preparing something similar to GTA 5’s multiplayer mode for the wild west romp.
Obviously, the main issue people have with this is that they think this means GTA Online will be ignored and will die off. The media buzz around RDR2 is so immense that it’s no surprise people are assuming it will be as big a hit as Grand Theft Auto 5, or even bigger. In that case, it’s also logical that many would think Rockstar will shift its resources to the bigger fish, like they did with Online, abandoning Story Mode.
Mostly, the fears are being voiced by players who don’t have that much interest in Red Dead because – *gasp* – people like that actually do exists in spite of what the internet would have you believe. A vintage wild west setting may be seldom explored in modern AAA games, offering a fresh world to play in, however it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Now, there are a host of reasons why Red Dead Online won’t mark the GTA Online apocalypse, so before we even delve into these reason, you can rest assured that multiplayer fun in Los Santos won’t be a thing of the past anytime soon, and that Rockstar will continue to support and update Online well after the launch of RDR2.
The first and most important reason we’ve got is infinitely simple: Red Dead Redemption 2 has absolutely no chance of matching the success of GTA 5. No way. Zero. Now, this may seem hard to believe if you’ve been paying attention to the gaming press these past days, seeing as RDR2 has been flowing out of every feed. Every gaming journalist, blogger, tweeter, enthusiast, streamer and their cat has been speaking about RDR2. How could it possibly be less popular than GTA 5?
The answer to this lies in silence. Fact of the matter is, the people who read gaming news online and are active in various communities such as forums are a minority within the larger audience. A very very vocal minority, but a minority nonetheless. To put things into perspective, the number of people who found out about the RDR2 announcement via the loading-screen ad in GTA Online is likely several multiples of those who found out about it via the news.
Thing is, a very small proportion GTA 5 and Online players are what you would call fanatical gamers. The vast vast majority of Online players either only play it, or something like FIFA and CoD next to it. They don’t follow gaming news, they don’t frequent gaming communities online, they don’t follow pages run by the developers of video games and they don’t search up news about games.
GTA is a household name. It has vast brand recognition, probably the most next to titles like Pokémon. Non-gamers know what GTA is, and people who don’t touch video games at all know what GTA is. On the flipside, only gamers who have been following major releases during and since 2010 know about Red Dead (Revolver wasn’t too famous), and even if the RDR2 marketing campaign reaches a wide audience, the sad truth is that most people still won’t bother to look too deeply (we hope we’re wrong).
Aside from being the kick-ass, most-awesome-game-ever-created that it is, GTA’s success lies in its fame, which is a bonus Red Dead simply does not have. Analysts have weighed in on their predicted sales figures for the upcoming game, and they’re not near Grand Theft Auto 5’s runaway success. The game is already the best-selling non-bundled game of all time with over 65 million copies sold plus digital sales, and it isn’t showing signs of slowing.
Now, Red Dead Redemption 2 may achieve massive popularity among gamers, and will be counted as a great success story. However, it probably won’t be as successful as GTA 5. As such, Red Dead Online probably won’t provide the kind of unwavering financial support that Grand Theft Auto has, which currently adds a decent amount of cash to Take-Two’s bank account (real-life, non-$GTA) each year.
This means that Take-Two, and thus Rockstar, probably won’t be banking on it taking over the burden of GTA Online. As such, even though they will of course do everything possible to ensure the most successful RDR2 launch possible, they’ll keep Online going strong next to it in order to keep the profits flowing in. To put things into perspective, Online has generated over $700 million in profits last year.
There’s also that small matter of Take-Two having officially stated that they plan on keeping GTA Online profitable at least up until 2020. Doing so means keeping the game relevant, and the best – and possibly only – way to do that is to keep up content updates. DLCs are the bread and butter of Online’s publicity, and their constant releases are what keep up Shark Card sales.
Whenever there is so much as a rumor of a new DLC, the press and public both power onto the topic, boosting publicity and popularity. In fact, we think the impending release of RDR2 will boost GTA Online’s presence instead of walking it to the grave. Why, you ask? It’s simple: competition.
Now, first let’s nail something down. Rockstar Games is a dev company, not a studio. There are several Rockstar studios worldwide, and while some members of the GTA team will have been brought in on RDR2 (which is understandable, since the game is basically Grand Theft Horse), the teams working on Online and RDR2 are parts of different studios.
In order to remain relevant in a Red Dead market, the guys managing GTA Online will have to ramp up the frequency and scale of their updates. How to combat the fame of RDR2? Release a new island/city! RDR2 stealing players? More heists! The western style taking the community by the storm? Cowboys DLC!
GTA Online is hardly going down the drain just because of the impending release of RDR2 – Rockstar will hardly shoot itself in the foot by downing their main and currently only major source of income just to bank more on a project which likely won’t reach the same kind of wide audience.
Rockstar has far too much riding on GTA Online. Take-Two likely cut out Mafia III’s multiplayer mode to protect Online, and chances are they won’t let an in-house Rockstar project hurt microtransaction income either. All it takes is some business sense, and you’ll immediately see that Online will actually benefit from the launch of RDR2 instead of go under.
Will you switch over to Red Dead Online completely when it releases, or can you see yourself drifting back to GTA Online after a while?
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