Red Dead Redemption 2 Expected To Usher In Record Year

Take-Two expertly dodges answering the inevitable PC question

Red Dead Redemption 2’s delay has left the tail end of 2017, much like the elapsed portion of the year, rather thin on new releases.

While the timing of the delay has left Take-Two relying on DLC and the continued success of GTA Online, it has provided new windows of opportunity for other publishers. To contrast the delay in the absolute, Red Dead Redemption 2’s release is expected to herald a record breaking year for Take-Two in terms of revenue and earnings.

The long awaited sequel to 2010’s Red Dead Redemption was intended to be this year’s big hit, ticking Take-Two’s check box for releasing at least one non-sports AAA title each year. That, however, went up in smoke when the title was pushed to early 2018 in order to win the developers more time for polish and tweaking.

Said polish and tweaking won’t be affecting the game’s sales, or if they do, it will only be in a positive manner. In the past few years many high profile AAA titles suffered delays and performed well afterwards. The gaming community has learned that delays for the sake of further polish generally lead to the production of a better game.

Red Dead Redemption 2 will steal the show when it’s released, whenever that may be. Right now, it’s scheduled for fiscal 2019 (April 1st, 2018 to March 31st, 2019) and slated to arrive sometime next spring. The game’s influence, coupled with the assumption that the baseline success shown in low-release periods like the current one holds up, allows Take-Two to aim for a record breaking year.

Red Dead Redemption 2 will be joined by a game so far unnamed that’s coming from 2K, and is a new installment of a major franchise (though almost everyone suspects it may be Borderlands 3). Take-Two expects the coupling of these factors will propel fiscal 2019 to the top of their leaderboards, toppling all previously held records.

Strauss Zelnick discussed the past quarter and the future of the company in a conference call with investors and some members of the gaming press recently. Much attention was paid to Red Dead Redemption 2, even though it was technically GTA Online which carried the past quarter on its shoulders to success.

As a result of our stronger-than-expected first quarter operating results and improved outlook for the remainder of the year, we are increasing our fiscal 2018 outlook for Net Sales and net cash provided by operating activities. Looking ahead, we expect fiscal 2019 to be a record year for Net Sales and net cash provided by operating activities led by the launches of Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption 2 and a highly anticipated new title from one of 2K’s biggest franchises. We have a robust development pipeline and are better positioned than ever for long-term growth and margin expansion.

Red Dead Redemption 2 slipping from 2017 isn’t a tragedy in any measure for Take-Two, based on the numbers they’ve pulled this last quarter, but that performance can mainly be attributed to GTA Online still owning the multiplayer scene. The game keeps making insane amounts of money, setting the bar ever higher for Red Dead Redemption 2.

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Fiscal 2018 is off to an excellent start, with our business’s positive momentum continuing to exceed our expectations in the first quarter. We delivered growth in both Net Sales and net revenue, as well as margin expansion. Our results were led by the ongoing extraordinary performance of Grand Theft Auto V and Grand Theft Auto Online, strong demand for NBA 2K17 – which is now our highest-selling sports title ever – and increased recurrent consumer spending.

In the past weeks, we’ve been getting what can be viewed as mixed messages from Take-Two Interactive regarding the projected levels of success they’re expecting from Red Dead Redemption 2 once it is released. On the one hand, Zelnick does not expect the title to perform as well a Grand Theft Auto 5 did back in the day when it was launched, but at the same time expects the game to boost the company’s fiscal year to record breaking numbers, presumably meaning beating the year that GTA 5 was released.

Of course, it is important to consider that executives expect the next fiscal year to be a record breaker thanks to Red Dead Redemption 2 and that unnamed 2K title, but the fact of the matter is, if we compare sales figures from past games, Red Dead Redemption 2 will be carrying the revenue numbers to that goal. At the same time, the reasoning behind why it’s logical to assume the game won’t match GTA 5’s success is sound and plentiful, which is why this prediction seems a tad premature even in the face of the game’s overbearing hype and popularity in spite of the general lack of new information.

That lack of new information is something Take-Two really doesn’t want to alleviate. When a direct question about what the possible future of the Red Dead franchise on PC could look like, or if there even was such a future, was asked, the answer provided was a masterful dodge. Initially, the question regarding Red Dead Redemption 2’s PC port was the second part of a complex question, and the execs simply didn’t answer it, but when pressed, they replied in general terms.

The PC market is vibrant for us. It’s a core market, a predominantly digital market. So, for us, the PC market is very important and something we really focus on.

Unrelenting, the gaming press members in the conference call pushed on. They managed to get snippets from Zelnick and co about how PC viability is determined on a case by case basis, and that the decision and any related announcements are ultimately up to the developers themselves. If we ever learn of a Red Dead Redemption 2 PC port, it won’t be through an earnings report.

The PC issue is one that is guaranteed to haunt Rockstar, at least through community discussions, for as long as people consider the Red Dead franchise relevant. Hell, it’s been discussed ever since 2010, and the community efforts to convince the developers to bring the previous installment to PC are still on going, not to mention a reinvigorated effort to secure a port for the upcoming sequel.

No Red Dead game has ever graced the PC with a full port, and currently the only way to get Red Dead Redemption running on the platform is through Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service, which requires the payment of a subscription fee. The game played in this manner requires a Dualshock controller, is locked to 30 FPS and rarely actually hits that number. We’ve theorized that this is the reason why an actual port isn’t coming, as Rockstar and Sony’s deal might include a clause giving the latter a monopoly on Red Dead games on PC.

We still don’t know a whole lot about the game itself. We’ve seen some official Red Dead Redemption 2 screenshots, but other than that there is only pure, fan-generated hype keeping this title in the news. Rockstar has promised more info during the summer and it’s already August. Many fans assume that the developers will subvert the status quo of skipping gaming conventions and use the upcoming Gamescom event to unveil further details about the game.

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