Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA Online Comparisons May Be Pointless

Different franchise, different studio, different target audience

Red Dead Redemption 2 is hogging the gaming press, but with little to draw on, it’s being compared with GTA 5 and Online time and again. After all, even we did our share of comparisons between the two, however there’s a point after which it becomes too much and nothing of substance can be gained. While there is merit in looking at a previous release for hints into what we should expect, there’s only so much two vastly different games can potentially have in common.

Here’s the thing: Red Dead Redemption 2 might end up being a major hit, and it very likely will be, but that doesn’t put it in the same weight category as GTA 5. Now, you might be asking what success has to do with gameplay design choices, but actually the two are quite closely linked. Core gamers and the kind of people who just play casually and only care about GTA and Call of Duty have vastly different preferences, and Rockstar knows this.

See, GTA Online is a mainstream hit that was precisely manufactured to be one. Rockstar knew they struck gold with releasing right during the turn of the console generation, so they tried to blanket as wide a mainstream audience as possible. Thing is, no matter how much marketing material for Red Dead Redemption 2 they throw out, it just won’t make as big a splash.

This in mind, the developers need to satisfy a different market demographic with the game. While GTA 5, ideally, needed to resonate most with the mainstream casual customer; Red Dead Redemption 2 will have to please the hardcore players first and foremost. This is why we’re still getting a singleplayer mode in spite of GTA Online’s overwhelming success, and why you can bet your ass that said single player mode will be extremely polished

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Even though the only thing we have to go on is a single cinematic trailer, people are already assuming that the game will have a throwaway story mode with the focus put into Red Dead Online simply because GTA 5 didn’t get any story DLC and the game’s microtransactions brought in half a billion dollars of revenue. Sure, that business model worked out great for GTA 5, but it probably wouldn’t bring the same results with Red Dead Redemption 2.

Say what you will about the singleplayer mode of GTA 5 today, but back when it was launched, it was considered a masterpiece by reviewers and players alike, which is an assertion that holds even today. The only reason derision for it has risen recently is due to bitterness among the hardcore fans that Online is getting all the attention. However, the bar has been set really high, and Rockstar knows it needs to out-do GTA 5 with RDR2’s story mode.

There’s really no need to be burying Red Dead Redemption 2’s singleplayer component just yet, folks. This isn’t GTA, and the target audience is different too. We, for one, are looking forward to experiencing the polished and detailed single player experience the game has to offer when it finally launches.

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