Red Dead Redemption, Rockstar Games’ open-world cowboy classic, and its zombie add-on Undead Nightmare are saddling up for another ride, this time on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, as announced by Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games.
Unfortunately, instead of a triumphant return, the announcement was met with a mixed bag of cheers and jeers from fans and critics alike. While some fans gleefully anticipate the August 17 release, others balk at the $50 price point, questioning its value given its lack of features, especially compared to versions available on other platforms.
One would think that the re-release of such an iconic title would be met with unanimous praise. So, why the divide? The most contentious issues appear to be the game’s price, its missing multiplayer mode, and the lack of a PC release.
Fans have expressed their disappointment, pointing out that the game is already “out” on the Xbox Series X in 4K and 60 FPS, thanks to backward compatibility. Adding salt to the wound, the Xbox 360 version is currently available at a cheaper price digitally. So, when Take-Two slapped a $50 price tag on what appears to be a straight port without any enhancements, fans were understandably baffled. When this uproar reached Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick’s ears during an earnings call, he unapologetically defended the pricing, asserting it as the “commercially accurate price.”
Hannah Sage, Take-Two’s EVP of Finance, reminded everyone that the port also includes the Undead Nightmare add-on, in a report by IGN.
While it’s true that Undead Nightmare was hailed as a fantastic standalone game upon its original release, one can’t help but feel that this bundling is more of a justification for the price than a genuine attempt to add value. Does the inclusion of a DLC released over a decade ago warrant the $50 price point?
The term “commercially accurate,” as repeatedly used by Zelnick, becomes even murkier when looking at comparable prices. The original Red Dead Redemption and its Undead Nightmare DLC can be bought for a total of $40 on the Xbox store. When compared with other games available on the Switch, the pricing seems even more incongruous. Classic PS3 titles such as Okami and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed go for $19.99, while the enhanced Skyrim, bundled with multiple expansions and Nintendo-specific add-ons, sits at $59.99.
But perhaps what’s most puzzling is the decision to forgo enhancements entirely. When fans were teased with the possibility of a Red Dead Redemption release for the current generation, many hoped for a remake or at least a remaster. Instead, they received a port which, while making the game more accessible across platforms, does not improve upon it in any significant way. The community’s frustration is palpable when comparing the likes to dislikes on the game’s YouTube trailer reveals.
It’s worth noting that the shadow of the 2021 GTA Definitive Edition disaster still looms large, reportedly even killing any chance of a full remaster for Red Dead Redemption. Rockstar now seems caught in a delicate dance of wanting to capitalize on the game’s popularity without investing significantly in its development. This lackluster approach feels out of character for a studio known for its meticulous attention to detail and dedication to quality.
The overarching question becomes: Why? With Rockstar potentially focusing on the behemoth that is GTA 6, will Red Dead, as a franchise, be left in the dust? Only time will tell.
For now, fans are left to grapple with Rockstar’s current offering and whether “commercial accuracy” justifies their investment.
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