Updated: Aug 9
After weeks of rumours and fans digging for potential leaks of a long-desired remake for Red Dead Redemption, one of the highest-rated games of all time, Rockstar has today announced they are releasing a… port. They have tweeted out a trailer stating that on August 17th Red Dead Redemption, along with its excellent DLC Undead Nightmare, will be available on the Nintendo Switch and ‘modern Playstation systems.’ A slightly misleading statement, as there will be no current-gen release for the ps5, there will only be a backwards-compatible PS4 version. This reveal of a Red Dead Redemption port is underwhelming to say the least.
RDR was originally released in May 2010 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and received huge commercial and critical success. This was then followed up 8 years later in October 2018 with Red Dead Redemption 2, another excellent game for PS4, Xbox One, and later PC. Due to how beloved both of these games are, fans have long called for a Remake or at least a Remaster for the original title, to bring it up to date with current technical standards. And many believed they were about to get their wish when a new logo for the game appeared on Rockstar’s official website, sparking theories that an announcement of the Remake would soon follow. Instead, there is the much less exciting news of a Switch and PS4 release.
While it is good news, both of these releases are long overdue and likely required many hours of manpower from the developers at Double Eleven Studios who have handled these ports, it’s not what anybody was really asking for. It comes especially as a surprise when fans are still hoping for a current-gen patch for RDR 2 to finally unlock the frame rate. From the outside looking in, that would appear to be a simple and obvious update to release, as so many other games have done, in order to massively improve the gameplay experience on current hardware, and should have been a much higher priority than these ports. In Rockstar’s defence, they never claimed they were going to be offering anything else, it was simply fan hype that escalated well out of their control, but it's still not a great look when there is already great frustration about how Rockstar is handling the Red Dead series.
Is the Read Dead Redemption port a sign of Rockstar's priorities?
They had previously come under fire for their lack of continued support for Red Dead online and lack of communication with fans about their long-term plans. It even prompted players to begin dressing up as clowns in-game in protest at Rockstar’s neglect. This all happened against the backdrop of Rockstar’s complete focus on GTA 5, which will be coming up to its 10th anniversary in September this year and is still going strong. Rockstar has re-released GTA 5 as many times as possible and dedicated resources heavily to its online community, likely because it has been such a huge money maker. It seems easy to speculate, that perhaps a business decision was made at some point to devote all the resources available to keep GTA 5 Online alive as it generated far more profits than RDR, and also to set their long-term sights on the upcoming GTA 6.
Those aren’t the only questionable decisions that have seen Rockstar getting heavy public backlash in recent memory. The last time they did attempt a remaster was with the trilogy of GTA III, San Andreas, and Vice City. These shipped in a very poor state and lacked any of the quality and polish people had come to expect from Rockstar, which for a long time has been considered one of the top game developers in the world.
The fact that they are also rumoured to be charging $50/£50 for what is not a remaster but a port of a 13-year-old game only further rubs salt in the wound and creates more bad press. That’s a steep price to pay given the lack of changes to the original game. It will also only run at 4k/30fps on the PS5, clearly well below what it’s capable of, and gives the impression that, like the GTA remaster, very few resources have been devoted to this port. If that’s all Rockstar were willing to do then perhaps fans could have stomached it, but only if it was reflected in the price point. Not wanting to remaster it but still charging a premium price, comes off as trying to have their cake and eat it too.
Thankfully, players won’t have to wait too long to get their hands on these new ports and see how they play. Hopefully, they can at least avoid the performance issues of the GTA remasters and deliver a smooth way to play one of the best games ever made. It will also undeniably be great to have it available to play on the go with the Nintendo Switch. For anyone waiting for RDR 2 in 60 fps on consoles though, or hoping for a remake, remaster, or even a PC port, it seems like it's simply not a priority for Rockstar right now. Instead, it looks like Red Dead continues to be secondary to their commitment to GTA Online and Grand Theft Auto 6. Hopefully one day, all of those who are cowboys and girls at heart will get the chance to tell John Marston’s story in a glorious remake that gives it the treatment it deserves. Today is not that day.