Red Dead Redemption’s New Ports are a Shameless Cash Grab

Rockstar's recent announcement regarding Red Dead Redemption's PS4 and Nintendo Switch ports have been met with extremely negative backlash. With a lack of multiplayer, zero graphical improvements, and last-gen frame rates summed under a $50 price-point, outrage should be as expected as it is justified.

Red Dead Redemption's New Ports are a Shameless Cash GrabThis week, Rockstar Games announced PS4 and Nintendo Switch ports for their beloved Red Dead Redemption, released originally in 2010. The game, set in the Wild West, follows character John Marston as he navigates crime, corruption, and revenge in the early 20th century. While such an announcement would expect to garner praise and excitement, Rockstar and parent-company Take-Two have received significant backlash, with the initial announcement gathering over 120,000 dislikes alone. This frustration is certainly justified, as alongside a steep price tag for an already-released game, both ports have removed multiplayer functionality beside zero graphical improvements or frame rate increases. In essence, a preowned Xbox 360 or PS3 copy poses more value for the consumer than this literal rerelease.

Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare Coming to Switch and PS4

Lacking Graphical Improvements

In 2018, Rockstar Games released the visually breathtaking sequel to Red Dead Redemption, aptly titled Red Dead Redemption II. This long-awaited entry to the franchise received high praise, winning a slew of awards and raising the bar even further for the standard of an original Rockstar Games release. Being released on Xbox One, PS4, and PC, Red Dead Redemption II supports full-4K resolution: a definite upgrade from its predecessor’s native 720p resolution, and a should-be standard for this generation of consoles.

A screenshot from Red Dead Redemption's newly released trailer.

A screenshot from Red Dead Redemption‘s newly released trailer.

Despite this, Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports serve as a step backward, as in the face of likely resolution-bumps on PS4 and PS5, it has showcased through its official trailer that other standards will not be upheld. Watching the announcement, the graphical quality seems reminiscent of Xbox 360 and PS3 titles from a decade ago rather than that of a 2023 release. This is truly disappointing, as while many had expected a graphical remastering of Red Dead Redemption, they would instead be receiving the same, now-dated graphics from 2010.

This problem becomes even more egregious when online communities realized the backwards-compatible version of Red Dead Redemption on Xbox Series X is already playable at full-4K resolution, and 1440p on Xbox Series S.

Lacking Technical Improvements and Multiplayer

Another flaw with Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports comes in the way of technical improvements, or lack thereof. With no announcement or advertisement of increased frame-rates coupled with footage from the trailer, it is apparent that these new ports will not receive increases to 60fps, rather maintaining 30fps frame-rates.

While this may have been acceptable with new, especially demanding releases (such as Red Dead Redemption II) due to hardware limitations, it is unacceptable with unchanged, over-decade-old titles. 

However so, “unchanged” may not be an accurate descriptor as there is one significant adjustment coming to Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports: the removal of multiplayer. According to its PlayStation store page, “Red Dead Redemption does not feature multiplayer content”. Aside from other graphical and technical missteps, this is different; this is a complete deletion of a significant portion of the original game, leaving only the singleplayer and a still-high price tag, despite the port being providing less content than 2010’s original release.

The Price Tag

The cherry-on-top of this entire situation is Red Dead Redemption‘s price tag. Priced similarly to entirely brand-new AAA releases, it is available for preorder on PS4 and Nintendo Switch for $50 despite lacking improvements and reduction of content. This price is especially outrageous when realizing that 2010’s Red Dead Redemption cost similarly for the same graphical/technical standards and multiplayer upon release. 

GameStop Listing Red Dead Redemption for .99 Upon Release via Internet Archive.

GameStop Listing Red Dead Redemption for $59.99 Upon Release via Internet Archive.

Fans have also noticed that it would actually be cheaper to purchase a pre-owned Xbox 360 and original copy of Red Dead Redemption than it would be to purchase a copy for PS4 or Nintendo Switch. While $50 may have been more reasonable given a full, genuine remaster or remake, it should not be admissible for a less-than rerelease from 2010.

Shameless Justification

Fan-wide backlash has continued to surround Red Dead Redemption, causing Take Two CEO Strauss Zelnick to provide justification for the release’s $50 price-point. According to Zelnick and reported by IGN, the price is commercially accurate. This explanation has attracted more questions and confusion than it has calmed them, with many citing its lack of improvements and features and comparing it to pre-owned Xbox 360 and PS3 copies of one-fourth the price.

Parent-company Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick

Parent-company Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick.

Although the new ports include the Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare DLC, this is still not enough to warrant the claim that it is “commercially accurate”, especially when older, last-gen copies do as well. Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports will also once again only have singleplayer content, reducing the amount of replayability significantly.

No PC or Next-Gen Ports

In spite of newly revealed PS4 and Nintendo Switch ports, Rockstar Games is yet to announce a long-awaited PC port. With rumors circulating and excitement building before the official announcement, fans were eager for the PC version of Red Dead Redemption, especially after its sequel arrived on the platform a year after release. When questioned about this, Zelnick claimed that that was a developer-made decision. Undeterred by this statement, fans continue to hope that a PC port will eventually release.

More platforms lacking native support from Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports are the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Like Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and Xbox One, Red Dead Redemption will only be playable on next-generation PlayStation consoles through backwards-compatibility, thus the PS4 port. Before this announcement, Red Dead Redemption was unplayable on PS4, as it was removed from PS Now: a subscription-based service allowing players to stream and play older PS3 titles onto their consoles.

A Continued Trend

The issues surrounding Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports are extremely reminiscent of those of another Rockstar Games rerelease: Grand Theft Auto: Trilogy – Definitive Edition. This remaster also received outrage for being inferior than its original version despite a high price tag. In addition to being graphically and technically disappointing, the game was also plagued with bugs and glitches: something currently unobservable in Red Dead Redemption as it is unreleased.

A Screenshot From Grand Theft Auto: Trilogy - Definitive Edition's Reveal Trailer

A Screenshot From Grand Theft Auto: Trilogy – Definitive Edition‘s Reveal Trailer.

In any case, this persists a trend of apathy and lack of quality when it comes to remastering or rereleasing older games, continuing to prove Rockstar Games’ and Take-Two’s only purpose in doing so is exploiting nostalgia for profit.

Many have also begun expressing concern toward Grand Theft Auto VI: Rockstar’s next, massively-anticipated game. With so many issues plaguing the studio’s recent products, one can only hope these same, quality-related problems will not affect Rockstar’s highest-profile release.

A Single Positive

Regardless of the negativity and outrage toward Red Dead Redemption‘s new ports, there is one positive. Announced by Rockstar Games in their official blogpostRed Dead Redemption will now support a number of new languages, including Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean, Polish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, and Latin American Spanish. This is a massive plus, as it will allow more to enjoy and understand the game in their own languages. Accessibility is massively important, and despite its flaws, this is certainly an improvement.

Red Dead Redemption rereleases on PS4 and Nintendo Switch digitally on August 17, 2023, and physically on October 13, 2023.

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