With all the hype around Red Dead Redemption 2, and also after five years of hearing about Grand Theft Auto 5 constantly, it’s easy to forget just how vast Rockstar’s library of great video game IP is.
Well, now it appears that following the revival of their Wild West franchise, it might be time to sit back into the school desk.
Bully is one of Rockstar’s stranger IPs, as it trades the standard danger-filled setting of the wilderness or big city for a quiet small town which is dominated by a school. Abandoning true violence for slingshots, gangs for cliques and cars for a bicycle, the game proved that Rockstar’s nuanced narrative style and satirical humor can come across without dropping f-bombs and spilling gallons of blood.
Bully was well received by critics and fans alike, and while it broke no sales records, it has a cult following to this day. The game was remastered and re-released on various platforms several times, with the most recent release being on mobile. The game features boarding school student Jimmy Hopkins trying to climb to the top of the student hierarchy of Bullworth Academy. The game is open world much like most of Rockstar’s other titles, and filled with all kinds of side activities as well as collectibles. It is a fairly interesting world to explore, even if a little small.
Those involved in the game’s cult following have been hoping to get a sequel for many years now – Bully was initially released in 2006 – with no sign of it happening. However, based on a recent report from GameZone, a sequel to Bully might be the follow up to Red Dead Redemption 2.
Rockstar Games has followed a rough GTA-something-GTA-repeat pattern for the last decade, with Bully followed by GTA 4 followed by Red Dead Redemption followed by GTA 5 followed by Red Dead Redemption 2. This would indicate that we’re getting a new GTA game after Redemption 2. However, the hugely increased production costs and timeframe involved for massive AAA titles might push something of that magnitude into the far future, allowing a smaller niche release like Bully 2 to jump in sooner.
The basis of the Bully 2 rumor comes from alleged inside information leaked from Rockstar by “someone close to the company”. While this is the game journalism equivalent of “my dad works for Nintendo”, similar leaks have turned out to be legit in the past, so while this should hardly be taken as confirmation, it shouldn’t be dismissed off-hand either.
It would make sense for Rockstar to maintain its IPs with new installments, and even though it is dwarfed by things like Red Dead, in the grand scheme of things Bully has pretty wide brand recognition so a sequel would be starting from a favorable position, not to mention the press would be all over it.
Over the past 11 years, the very concept of bullying has evolved and changed with the lives of students being increasingly digitized. If the sequel were a direct follow-up to the first game with real time passage, Jimmy would be far too old for the iconic school environment to persist, which is why it would likely concern a new character tackling the social food-chain of a modern day Bullworth Academy.
We’d see much potential in a game tackling the satirization of cyberbullying, which is something rarely done and seems like an unspoken taboo of contemporary media. A modern day Bully interpretation would likely see slingshot pranks replaced with gaining access to the social media accounts of fellow students.
Whether it’s the next title on Rockstar’s schedule or we have to wait longer for it to come, we’d certainly be excited to see another Bully game in the future. Only time will tell whether this particular rumor has any weight to it, or if it is just wishful thinking.