Why Was Red Dead Redemption 2 Delayed?

Rockstar needs more time for polish

Yesterday, Rockstar Games announced that Red Dead Redemption 2 will now launch in Spring 2018. The news wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it hit with the weight of one nonetheless.

Ever since the game’s official announcement last October, fans have been on the edge of their seats waiting for official news, but this isn’t what they had in mind. While responses from fans have been mixed – some praising the delay since it will result in a better product, others saying they were already struggling to wait until the original release date in Fall – one question occupies all equally: why?

Rockstar Games is no stranger to delays since every AAA-budget title they’ve ever released was delayed save for Rockstar Games Presents: Table Tennis. The very first footage of the previous game in the Red Dead franchise was shown off in 2005, just one year after the release of Revolver, however the game wouldn’t launch until 2010, and even then it was hit with another one-month delay. Grand Theft Auto 5 was also pushed from Spring 2013 to September that year, Grand Theft Auto 4 from October 2007 to April 2008, and the list goes on.

Rockstar almost always pushes back release dates from the initially announced windows for a handful of reasons.

Firstly, the initial release date estimate for their games often appears too optimistic. Sure, for all we know they’ve been in development for a long enough time beforehand and simply planned the reveal close to launch. However, it’s turned out in most cases that the game is not all that close to being finished upon announcement, but for whatever reason, Rockstar has only given themselves a year, or less, to wrap up development.

In their official announcement, which was accompanied by a number of new screenshots, Rockstar Games stated that they require more time to work on and polish Red Dead Redemption 2 in order to deliver the best possible product. Of course it’s true, but is there other reasons for the delay too?

This outlaw epic set across the vast and unforgiving American heartland will be the first Rockstar game created from the ground up for the latest generation of console hardware, and some extra time is necessary to ensure that we can deliver the best experience possible for our fans. We are very sorry for any disappointment this delay causes, but we are firm believers in delivering a game only when it is ready.

An early warning sign of Red Dead Redemption 2’s impending delay was the radio silence we’ve had since the official announcement of the game back in October. Really, this announcement of the delay half a year later is the first official statement since. Leaving half a year, maybe less, to market what is supposed to be one of the biggest games of 2017 really wouldn’t do either the developers or gamers justice. Sure, the game would have been a blockbuster any way, just not as bigger blockbuster as it could be. If the date was holding we’d have seen more of it by now.

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And then there is Rockstar’s reputation. Almost every game they’ve ever released has highly positive to outstanding critical scores and enjoys the overwhelming adoration of fans. And one of the most universally known truths in the industry is that a game rushed will surely disappoint, as proven by a bevy of titles across the AAA and lower-budget markets. Spending ample time polishing a game is often what separates the Game of the Year nominees from those scorned.

Rockstar knows this and opts for delays in favor of releasing the consistently high-quality titles that they do. Really, this only ever benefits fans, since we’re treated to games held to a superior standard. GTA 5 benefitted much from the extra polish, as evidenced by the insanely vivid open world, which still leaves all others, even newer ones, behind. Rarely do delays damage the sales of a game, and yet certain publishers, such as Electronic Arts, would rather rush a game to stick to deadlines.

Another factor is the one that Rockstar themselves have cited. This is the first game the developers are creating for the current generation of consoles. GTA 5 was developed for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 then ported to the current generation, which is a wholly different process. There, the developers had to stay within the bounds and limitations imposed by the game’s original version. Working directly with the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 hardware offers Rockstar greater freedom to craft a game that wouldn’t be possible on the previous gen.

This goes beyond mere graphics, too. The stronger hardware makes a vast array of improvements possible: more complex AI, more NPCs on-screen at any given time, dynamic effects in more contexts, greater mission and side-activity variety, foliage density, the magnitude of level-of-detail phases, draw distance and much more. This is about more than just the looks of the game, but the way it feels and plays as well.

While the delay itself is unfortunate since this means we’ll have to wait roughly 10-12 months from now until the game hits store shelves, the effect it will have on the end result is immeasurable. We agree with many fans who say that they would rather wait patiently only to receive an amazing game as opposed to having it rushed out in an unpolished state.

We’ve seen what Rockstar can do when given the time, and we can’t wait to delve into Red Dead Redemption 2’s world, polished to a blinding shine.

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