Between Strauss Zelnick’s longstanding support of the Nintendo Switch and the recent surprise announcement that L.A. Noire will be ported to the console, speculation about what other Rockstar IP might grace the console is afoot.
Combine that with the hype around Red Dead Redemption 2 and it isn’t hard to figure out which franchise fans consider to be the most likely candidate for Rockstar’s next outing on the Switch. But will there be one at all?
Without any kind of official info, all of this is speculative, however past events can assist us in dissecting this topic be more than a shot in the dark. Take-Two Interactive has openly backed the Switch from day one, with NBA 2K18 appearing in the console’s debut trailer, meaning it was only a matter of time until a Rockstar title appeared on the console as well. Between the IP held by the company’s two subsidiaries, Rockstar and 2K, Rockstar is the one with more mainstream reach, after all.
However no-one expected the mildly successful and largely forgotten L.A. Noire to be the developer’s debut on the platform. The game was well received though it had some flaws, and was fairly popular among gamers. But it never reached levels of success akin to Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption.
The porting of this 2011 title, which features some snazzy facial animation technology and pretty-for-the-time graphics, means that Rockstar is confident in the hardware capabilities of the platform. As such, why wouldn’t the developers capitalize on the massive amount of hype surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2 and port 2010’s Red Dead Redemption to the Switch?
There are actually some pretty good reasons why Rockstar wouldn’t and likely won’t do that.
The first and foremost reason is the same reason why Red Dead Redemption hasn’t been remastered (beyond it being playable on current-gen consoles and still looking more than fine). Red Dead Redemption’s development cycle was a strained affair and it’s generally believed that the game’s code is somewhat of a mess. In addition, many fans and commentators alike believe that it was the assistance of Leslie Benzies which allowed the project to become the Red Dead Redemption we all know and love.
Indeed, Rockstar’s programmers achieved a major feat, producing one of the best examples of an open-world title on such foundations.
Porting Red Dead Redemption would likely be more akin to rebuilding the game from the ground up, something that would be far more resource intensive than a mere remaster. And so a project of this nature probably wouldn’t get the go-ahead from the higher ups. However, this may not be the only reason.
We’ve recently speculated why the PlayStation Now service is the only way to access Red Dead Redemption on PC. It’s possible that Sony included a clause in their partnership deal with Rockstar, a deal we’ve known about since the announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2, that gives them exclusive control over any form of the game’s distribution on PC.
However, the full details of the partnership are secret, and we don’t know whether there is anything in there that actually limits Rockstar and Take-Two in what other, further ports of the game they can create and sell. L.A. Noire was also announced for the HTC Vive as Rockstar’s first VR title, however Red Dead hitting headsets is unlikely due to the PC being part of the equation.That said, PSVR is another matter entirely.
Summing up, Red Dead Redemption would be too expensive to port and Red Dead Redemption 2 is likely beyond the capabilities of the Switch. Since it’s improbable that Rockstar will dig up Red Dead Revolver, the only possibility for seeing the franchise on Nintendo’s hybrid console would be if an entirely new game, made just for that platform, is developed.
A Red Dead spin-off title isn’t that extreme a concept.
The upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 is the third game in the franchise, and if it becomes as big a hit as suspected, it might solidify Red Dead as a mainstay Rockstar franchise next to GTA. If this were to be the case, putting together a spin-off for the Switch would of course be more attractive to Take-Two.
While nothing is concrete, L.A. Noire’s unprecedented porting to the Switch sets the scene for further Rockstar titles to follow, and even though GTA may be a more likely candidate, we hope it is only a matter of time until we can enjoy the Wild West with Joy Cons.