Red Dead Redemption 2 May Not Match GTA 5’s Success

Ever since Rockstar officially teased and finally revealed Red Dead Redemption 2 over the course of the past few days, the internet has practically exploded in praise and anticipation. Gaming sites have been riding the wave caused by this splash ever since, and it has dominated community discussions as well. Anyone looking at the publicity footprint of this reveal would think that RDR2 will be massively popular when it launches.


While this will undoubtedly be true, both analysts and common sense dictate that Red Dead Redemption 2 will likely not replicate GTA 5’s overwhelming massive success. GTA’s success was largely attributed to mainstream popularity and brand recognition. GTA has achieved the status of practically being a household word. Non-gamers will know what it is about generally, and GTA has become a synonym for violent crimes with cars involved.

Even though GTA 5 had a massive marketing campaign backing it, it wouldn’t have achieved this level of success via ads and promotions alone. It already possessed a massive fanbase, which helped boost the effect of the costly marketing campaign. The staggered launch spread over three phases – last-gen, current gen and PC – also boosted sales, since several players bought the game all three times, and newer markets were opened up each time.

On the flipside, while Red Dead is pretty well known in gaming circles, it doesn’t have any brand recognition outside, and lacks GTA’s mainstream popularity. The game was never present on PC, therefore a sizeable audience has no connection to it, and RDR2 hasn’t been announced for PC either. As it stands, the game will only have a single launch, on the current gen consoles.

All this considered, Red Dead Redemption 2 is lacking pretty much everything that help GTA 5 become such a massive success story. We don’t doubt RDR2’s marketing campaign will be at least as big as GTA 5’s, however the other factors that helped it along aren’t present. Currently, GTA 5 holds the titles of best selling non-bundled game of all time, with well over 65 million copies sold, not counting digital sales.


Analysts have already dived into the topic of Red Dead Redemption 2, working their numbers magic to predict how well the game will do commercially when it’s finally released. Analyst Michael Pachter, who often publishes reports on the predicted sales of video games in spite of working for a security company, shared his views on RDR2 in an interview with

So I think the appeal is less than GTA, but again, I was off by literally half for GTA sales, so, you know, I think Red Dead does between 15-20 million, and I’d be surprised if it did 40 million, but I’m sure a lot of people are thinking that.

He went on to explain that he was wrong when it came to the sales predictions of previous GTA games, however in this case we are dealing with an IP that has a smaller mainstream footprint, which is really the key to massive success in this manner.

I can tell you that I have pretty consistently been wrong on the Grand Theft Auto series. When GTA3 came out, I modeled 325,000 units, and I missed by only 25 million. And when GTA5 came out, I thought it would sell 35 million, so I only missed by 31 million.


In any case, what Red Dead Redemption 2 does have going for it is Red Dead Online. The original RDR had a multiplayer mode, which played in a similar way to a severely simplified GTA Online in the RDR game world. We’re pretty sure RDO will incorporate a number of improvements over GTA Online, as the three year run of the multiplayer mode has no doubt taught Rockstar a few new tricks. Hopefully, they’ll opt against the whole peer-to-peer nonsense when it comes to servers!

How successful do you think RDR2 will be?

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