Red Dead Revolver, the first game in the Red Dead franchise, was released in 2004, meaning the GTA franchise had a seven year head start on it. However, this still wouldn’t explain the discrepancy between the number of games each franchise boasts.
For just three Red Dead games, one of which is upcoming, we have 15 GTA games. So will Red Dead Redemption 2 kick off a busier future for the franchise, or is it going back on the shelf post-launch of the next title?
The thing with Rockstar Games is that they’ve always been the “guys making GTA” with nothing else hitting the same level of popularity. Only Red Dead ever came close, and it’s looking better in terms of installments than most others. There are two Manhunt games and two Smuggler’s Run games, with most other franchises being standalone. Max Payne is the only one which matches Red Dead at 3 titles.
While Red Dead’s few games is not unusual for Rockstar, another factor to consider in our comparison with GTA is how the developers changed their approach to development. Up until GTA 4, we got a new GTA game every one to two years, whereas we had to wait five years for GTA 5. Thus, the eight year gap between 2010’s Red Dead Redemption and Red Dead Redemption 2 is a lot less strange.
Profitability plays a role as well. GTA has always been the massive money maker for the company, and while Red Dead Redemption was quite successful as far as games go, it still didn’t touch the records of most GTA titles. Naturally, Rockstar and Take-Two have a business incentive to push more GTA games.
However, Red Dead Redemption 2 has been getting a lot of attention in spite of the sparse info that exists, meaning it may become a success greater than Rockstar expects. Take-Two has expressed a desire to ramp up AAA production, and while this mostly falls on 2K, they might want Rockstar to put out more games as well.
Would monetary success in the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 be enough to guarantee more titles more frequently in the near future?
The IP definitely has the potential to become a big money maker. Ports or remasters of Revolver and Redemption would definitely sell, spin-off games for other platforms would increase audience reach (Take-Two seems keen on supporting the Nintendo Switch. A spin-off Red Dead title would be a massive boon) and with the recent acquisition of Social Point, they have a hand in the mobile gaming industry as well.
However, potential alone isn’t enough to carry a franchise. The question of Take-Two actually investing in such an endeavor remains. Red Dead Redemption 2 is carrying far more responsibilities than simply being a good game – it’s going to show the industry the new direction Rockstar Games is taking, it will be the torchbearer of the Western gaming genre and now, it’s monetary success will determine the fate of the entire franchise.
One possible pitfall that may doom the IP to sit on the shelf for another decade after Red Dead Redemption 2 is Rockstar’s and Take-Two’s aversion to rivalry – and if Red Dead becomes popular, they might see it as a rival to their prodigal IP, Grand Theft Auto. This dislike of competition is part of the reason why Rockstar generally skips video gaming press events and conventions.
We’ve still some time to go before Red Dead Redemption 2’s delayed release date rolls around for a bit of speculation, however once the sales figures roll in after launch we’ll have a pretty good idea of where the franchise might go in the future.
In the mean time, we can stare intently at a handful of screenshots while we wait for the next official breadcrumb.