While there was nothing surprising about its success, Red Dead Redemption 2 still seemed to come from nowhere, as fans busied themselves with Rockstar’s flagship title Grand Theft Auto V. The acclaimed Western was then dropped almost as suddenly four years after its 2018 release date, when the plug was pulled on Red Dead Online, leaving its promise entirely unfulfilled.
So, what does all that mean for a potential third game in the saga?
Despite the fact that Rockstar has ten different studios around the world, the company doesn’t seem to make many games anymore. In fact, with the exception of GTA V and RDR2, Rockstar has only released remakes, collections, and a VR version of LA: Noire since 2013. This is arguably due to the success of GTA V’s online mode, which Rockstar is now running more like an MMO service than a regular installment in the crime sim.
Of course, Rockstar’s sparse release calendar is also due to the fact that games with the scope of GTA, RDR, and non-Rockstar titles like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout now take way too long to put together. A conservative estimate for the release of a third Red Dead game would take us close to the end of the current decade and possibly into the 2030s. This is based on the fact that RDR2 came out eight years after its predecessor.
Given how quickly it was sent to the gallows, Rockstar likely has no real interest in the Red Dead franchise at the moment, especially with Grand Theft Auto VI just around the corner (although, likely still a few years off). This doesn’t mean that it’s destined for the same slagheap as abandoned Rockstar franchises like Bully, LA: Noire, and Max Payne but there’s almost definitely nothing RDR-related to get excited about now.
A Rare Treat
So, the only question that remains is whether RDR can survive a decade on the sidelines. The answer seems to be obvious – yes. The Western genre is continuously starved of material in the video game world, meaning that RDR represents a rare treat whenever it gets released. Strategy game Hard West 2 was released in the summer but richer pickings are usually found on less traditional platforms.
Android and iOS are the obvious examples, with apps like Westland Survival and West Gunfighter, but there are plenty of cowboy slots on casino websites too. The new and safe casino Playstar has games called Dead or Alive, which features a character resembling Lee Van Cleef, as well as Bounty Raid. Western tropes are often fairly popular in casinos, both on and offline.
Unfortunately, there’s no denying the fact that Rockstar has annoyed a lot of Red Dead and Grand Theft Auto fans in recent years, simply by failing to provide any meaningful (or working) content for either franchise. If Rockstar hits on another mega success with GTA VI, which is almost a guaranteed outcome, the release date for RDR3 and anything else on fans’ radar could be extended indefinitely.
As hinted at earlier, Rockstar produces about one new title every five years or so. So, while Red Dead Redemption 3 will likely come out one day, we might all be old and grey by then.