The newest generation of video game hardware has been marked by unprecedented backward compatibility. The Xbox Series X/S has continued the brand’s tradition of including a robust library of games stretching back to the Xbox 360, and the PS5’s backward compatibility applies to just about every PS4 game ever made. With this compatibility has come a slew of next-gen upgrades for titles that were released not long before the transition to the current generation, and even games from years prior have received upgrades due to their lasting impact. Many major titles fit into that latter camp, but not Red Dead Redemption 2.
Rockstar’s Western epic captivated fans and critics when it was released in 2018, drawing praise for its compelling characters, vast gameplay systems, and unrelenting attention to detail. Since Red Dead Redemption 2 has released, however, it’s received very little in the way of ongoing support. Red Dead Online has gotten its fair share of updates, but Rockstar has shown little interest in propping up the game as it has with Grand Theft Auto 5. The lack of a next-gen upgrade almost three years into this console cycle makes this glaringly apparent, and for now, it seems RDR 2 may never get a true next-gen upgrade.
Rockstar’s Lack of Support for Red Dead Redemption 2 Explained
It’s hard to overstate just how revolutionary Red Dead Redemption 2 was on launch, almost five years ago. As the follow-up to one of the best open-world games of all time, and Rockstar’s first major release since GTA 5, RDR 2 had lofty expectations that it thoroughly surpassed. The game sold and was reviewed rather well, but shortly after release, many noticed a strong disparity between Rockstar’s support for RDR 2 and its support for GTA 5. That disparity could be found in the lack of support and seeming abandonment of Red Dead Online.
Red Dead Online had some kinks when it was released, but this wasn’t any different from when GTA Online first came out. The one difference between the two, however, came down to its playerbase. Red Dead Online never reached the same amount of players as GTA Online, and part of that came down to how drastically different the two are in terms of tone and gameplay. While living out life as an outlaw in the vast countryside and rural towns of Red Dead Online is exciting for many, it pales in comparison to the fast-paced mayhem of GTA Online. This is where the RDR 2‘s lack of next-gen support comes in.
GTA Online is getting more content, and it has made and continues to make Rockstar an inordinate amount of money. It’s safe to say that microtransaction sales have likely surpassed pure game sales after so many years. Red Dead Online hasn’t rocketed to the same heights, and therein lies the issue with its next-gen support. Rockstar can give GTA 5 a next-gen upgrade almost ten years after the game first released because it knows it will continue to make money hand over fist. Developing and publishing a next-gen upgrade for RDR 2 doesn’t guarantee the same financial success, so Rockstar has no reason to take the risk.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is a masterpiece of game development, making it all the more disheartening that Rockstar hasn’t given it any next-gen support. As one of the most expansive open-world games ever made, there’s no telling how gorgeous RDR 2 would look on next-gen hardware. Unfortunately, not all decisions in game development are made based on how great a game would look or play under ideal circumstances. Red Dead Redemption 2 is also one of many games that can still be enjoyed through backward compatibility, but for many fans, it will never reach its truest potential.
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
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