Some time ago, we wrote a piece about how the popularity and success of Red Dead Redemption 2 might result in there being a resurgence in games with a Western setting. After the recent reveal of a new crowdfunded project called Wild West Online, as well as rumors that the next Far Cry might be a spaghetti Western, it seems that our prediction was correct – so much so, that Red Dead Redemption 2 didn’t even need to be released for this effect.
At the time we posted the first piece, many commenters claimed that it wouldn’t happen since Rockstar would “scare” off any other developer trying to take on the setting, since they would have no hope of topping Red Dead Redemption 2. Incidentally, the minds behind Wild West Online were actually inspired by Red Dead Redemption, and the project was kicked off back when the sequel wasn’t announced yet. The team’s motivation was that they got tired of waiting for a follow-up to the original RDR, so they decided to make their own Western video game, and turn it into an MMO.
In recent years, the Western setting has mostly been relegated to indie productions and download-only titles that weren’t destined to achieve far-reaching popularity. Even looking back throughout all of gaming history, Westerns are few and far between. Red Dead Redemption was well enough received in 2010, but it didn’t really grab the mainstream crowds, being more of a core gamer product.
Riding the wave of Grand Theft Auto 5’s popularity, however, has catapulted Red Dead Redemption 2 into the spotlight already, with the hype alone already spreading into casual gamer spheres. The title is getting extensive marketing already via banners and other merch on display in retail stores and pre-orders are being bought up like candy. We’ve barely seen a glimpse of the game through the cinematic trailer, but it has already amassed an audience greater than some other AAA titles do throughout their entire shelf life.
With such a heavy hitter representing the Western genre, copycats are guaranteed to follow.
Over the years the Grand Theft Auto franchise has spawned many an IP that took significant inspiration from games in that series, and with Red Dead about to explode into the mainstream consciousness, we see a similar future ahead for Westerns. While movies have explored the setting extensively, the few games that do offer players a trip to the Wild West are proof enough that the locale works, and works well.
Even if the rumored Far Cry title isn’t a Western, we might get an Assassin’s Creed game with a Wild West setting – after all, we’ve had pirates, and the setting would fit the series well. The Call of Juarez series could make a triumphant comeback, and a number of original properties could be created. We’d also love to see some spliced genres where Western is mixed with other themes, like Sci-Fi or Fantasy. The former worked out well for Westworld and Firefly.
Red Dead Redemption 2 doesn’t even have a concrete release date, and it already serves as inspiration for other titles. We guess it’s safe to assume that once the game is released, several other Westerns will follow.