Rockstar has handled porting Red Dead Redemption to modern consoles in the worst way possible. Every single bad decision that could conceivably made has been made here, and it’s being done to a re-release that people had been dreaming about for years. For nearly a decade and a half, the open world masterpiece has been stuck on PS3 and Xbox 360 (barring backward compatibility on Xbox, which we’ll get to in a bit), leaving people desperately hoping for an enhanced remaster (at the very least) on modern platforms, so it’s baffling to see Rockstar misreading the room as horribly as it has done.
There is, of course, plenty here that warrants criticism. For starters, it’s not a remaster at all- it’s a port. Almost a straight port, barring some cursory surface level changes being made here and there, but a port nonetheless. Then there’s the fact that it’s targeting the wrong platforms. Not having a native PS5 launch is baffling enough as it is (even if it’s not a deal-breaker, since the PS4 version can at least be played on PS5), but not releasing it for PC, after fans on the platform have waited for thirteen years to finally get their hands on the Western open world epic, is just a shockingly bad decision. And then, finally, there’s the price, which probably takes the cake where this group of bad decisions is concerned.
When Red Dead Redemption launches for PS4 and Switch a few days from now, it’ll retail for a price of $50. There’s obviously no denying that getting both Red Dead and Undead Nightmare in a single package is an alluring prospect, and there’s also absolutely no doubting that both of those are outstanding experiences that are still a blast to play through today. The issues with this upcoming release’s price, however, are less about the quality of what you’re buying and more about the context surrounding it.
For a game that’s thirteen years old now, paying $50 for what’s ostensibly a straight port is something one can’t help but balk at. A full-on Red Dead Redemption remake was obviously the dream scenario for many, and if that had indeed happened, as unlikely as it was, even a full-priced release would have gone down well with the masses. Hell, even for a remaster with meaningful enhancements and upgrades, a 50-60 dollar price would be palatable, depending on how good of a remaster it was, at least. But selling a straight port of a 13 year old game that doesn’t include the original’s multiplayer component for $50? That’s pure insanity.
Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick recently said while speaking to IGN that he believes the $50 price to be “commercially accurate”, and alluded to the fact that the release bundling both Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare together is what drives its value more than any enhancements or upgrades (or their total lack thereof). But again, as great as Red Dead and Undead Nightmare both are, it’s plain to see that what drove the pricing decision here was not a fair analysis of the value of an aged product that is making no meaningful changes, but pure and simple financial greed. They know how big Red Dead is, and they know that a re-release is going to sell well regardless of the price. It’s definitely not “commercially accurate”, to say the very least.
When The Last of Us Part 1 launched last year for PS5 for $70, was that a fair price? That was a full-on remake, one that didn’t go nearly as far with its gameplay improvements or narrative changes as it could or should have, but one that, at least on a visual and technical level, was a massive leap over the original game (and its remaster). But The Last of Us Part 1 was on the receiving end of a great deal of criticism for its pricing, which, of course, was totally justified- because why should you pay $70 for a conservative remake of a game that arguably didn’t need a remake in the first place? And yet amusingly enough, compared to the Red Dead Redemption port, even The Last of Us Part 1 seems like a much more sensibly priced game.
Compared to something like Metroid Prime Remastered, things look even worse for Rockstar and Take-Two. Now, Nintendo is not exactly a company that’s known for its fair pricing decisions (which seems like a massive understatement, if we’re being honest), but Metroid Prime Remastered was a stellar example of how to handle a remaster. The enhancements and improvements it boasted took even the most optimistic among us by surprise, to the extent that you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking that it was almost more of a remake than a remaster. That launched for a price of $40- a wonderful remaster of one of the best games ever made, launching at a fair price. Imagine that, right?
And hell, you don’t even have to compare Red Dead Redemption’s port with any other game to see just how nuts its pricing is. Compare it to itself, because the original Xbox 360 version has been available and playable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S for years, courtesy of backward compatibility, which is why an Xbox version of the upcoming port hasn’t been announced. Thanks to system-level enhancements, the game also runs in 4K on Xbox One X and Xbox Series X, and it includes the multiplayer component, which isn’t the case for the port. And do you know how much it costs? At the time of writing, $29.99. Add Undead Nightmare’s $10 price to that, and the two of them combined are still $10 cheaper than the upcoming PS4 and Switch port, despite being far better versions on a technical level, and despite having all the multiplayer content that the port does not.
So no, Red Dead Redemption’s $50 price on PS4 and Switch is definitely not “commercially accurate”, as Zelnick puts it. The hope is that the market will end up deciding the price of the release anyway. That it will sell well in the days and weeks after launch seems like a guarantee, given that it’s Red Dead and given that it’s Rockstar (even the massively underwhelming GTA Trilogy remaster sold like peanuts). But we wouldn’t be surprised if that price ends up dropping significantly a few months down the road. Right now, three factors are going to drive initial sales for the port- the fact that it’s Red Dead, the fact that you can now play it on a portable machine, and the fact that for those who’ve never played the original, it’s going to be an enticing purchase. But once that initial burn of sureshot sales slows down, we’d be surprised to see it maintaining any sort of commercial momentum at its current price.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.