We finally have a concrete release date for Red Dead Redemption 2, though the cost was yet another delay. Publisher Take-Two is confident that there will be no more delays and the game will be released on the 26th of October this year, meaning that its marketing machine will soon be kicked into overdrive.
Though it's official canon that Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto (as well as Manhunt) share a fictional universe, there has never been any real connection between them. That said, Rockstar did previously create an indirect link between the two franchises with a cross-promotion between GTA Online and Red Dead Redemption 2.
The promo had GTA Online players go on a short scavenger hunt to unlock a special gold-plated revolver. After acquiring this weapon, they had to complete a headshot challenge to then unlock an extra reward: some in-game currency and an identical weapon skin for Red Dead Online, provided they play the upcoming game with the same Rockstar Social Club account.
Such cross-promotions are hardly a new thing. Bioware had a cross-DLC item in Dragon Age: Origins and Mass Effect 2. If you unlocked the Blood Dragon Armor in one game you got it in the other as well, with keys usually being bundled with physical copies of either game. More recently, Square Enix and Ubisoft also held a rather odd cross-promo between Assassin's Creed: Origins and Final Fantasy XV.
However, could more cross-promotions be coming along, and could some of them be more substantial than a mere weapon skin?
Rockstar has a sizeable opportunity before them to further link three of their most popular franchises and have them build off one another, a bit like what the cinematic universes of large movie studios are doing, but in terms of video games.
Red Dead Redemption 2 essentially takes place a century before the GTA timeline, but in the same fictionalized version of the USA. Maybe the next promotion could have some kind of mission-text refer to West Elizabeth in GTA Online, or have the player character meet an NPC who is a descendant of one of the Red Dead characters... maybe a member of the Moon lineage with a similar disposition as good old Herbert?
We've often written about the divide between the general audience of GTA and the general audience of Red Dead, and how GTA enjoys a larger player base due to mainstream draw. With further direct references to the Red Dead franchise within GTA Online in gameplay form, Rockstar can tap the mainstream popularity they've built for GTA over the course of two decades.
With GTA Online's ballooning player base and constant growth, it too, in spite of being another product in the company's lineup, is also one of the most ideal venues of marketing that is guaranteed to reach a lot of potential buyers. While treating games as an advertising platform may be a troubling path to walk down, it does make sense in this particular case.
Either way, we hope to hear more about the game in any shape or form, as Rockstar recently stated to wait for further news 'in the coming weeks' weeks ago...