Take-Two Boss Defends Red Dead Redemption Port's Price Amid Fan Backlash

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Dipping into the back catalog to re-release a beloved older game is a time-honored trick that fans fall for again and again. Sometimes, the new release is an updated version that has extra or improved features to justify its existence, such as Dark Souls Remastered. Occasionally, such a release comes out at a bargain price, like the excellent PC version of Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen.

Other times, the new release is a blatant cash-grab that disrespects the source material, like 2021's Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy - Definitive Edition. That package still stings in the mind of many gamers, as it bundled up the three deeply revered PlayStation 2 entries of the GTA series in a set of very dubious "remasters" with extreme technical issues and a very questionable new art direction. Fans would have been perfectly happy to purchase the original games again, but instead, Rockstar chose to have a third-party mobile porting house handle the job with the results that they probably should have expected.

It is perhaps because that release is still so fresh in the memory—or perhaps because the subject of today's post is so hotly-desired and deeply-beloved itself—that gamers are in open revolt over Rockstar's announcement that it is finally bringing the original Red Dead Redemption out of 7th-generation console hell and into the modern era... well, sort-of, anyway. The new release will be exclusively for the last-gen PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch hardware, and the real kicker is that it will cost you $50.

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If we're being reasonable, there are costs associated with porting an old console game to newer platforms. This is textbook "new money for old rope," though. Rockstar has clarified that while the port includes the Undead Nightmare "what-if" standalone expansion, there's nothing re-made or re-mastered about the game itself; it's just the original title, and it's actually lacking that release's fantastically-fun multiplayer mode. There's no 60 FPS upgrade, and no version for current-generation consoles, any Xbox platform, nor the PC.

The likely reason why this game isn't coming to Xbox systems is that you can already play the Xbox 360 version of Red Dead Redemption on the Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles through Microsoft's extensive backward-compatibility efforts. Indeed, playing the game on the Xbox One X will or Xbox Series X will allow the title to run with a smoother framerate and drastically improved resolution—up to 4K, in fact. That version also still supports multi-player features, and you can find it for a pittance on used game sites or at resale shops.

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Screenshot of IGN's quote from Zelnick.

In response to the outcry over this announcement, you'd expect Rockstar or its parent company Take-Two to come out with a statement that says "hey sorry, we're dropping the price ten bucks" or something. Well, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick made a statement, but that's not what he said. Instead, he said (in a statement to IGN after yesterday's Take-Two earnings call) that he believes the price is "commercially-accurate". Yes, those are his actual words.

IGN writes that Take-Two's EVP of Finance, Hannah Sage, points out that the game includes its Undead Nightmare expansion, which Zelnick called "a great standalone game in its own right when it was originally released." Realistically, while Undead Nightmare is a fun diversion, Red Dead Redemption is remembered most fondly for its characters and narrative, most of which aren't present in the standalone expansion.

When pressed on a potential PC release for the game, Zelnick was noncommittal, remarking that he leaves game announcements up to developers. That's fair enough, but if the intent was to preserve the game or introduce it to a new audience, you won't do that anywhere as well as you will on the PC, and PC gamers love to spend money on old console games—just look at the massive success of The Last of Us: Part 1.

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Red Dead Redemption runs well in both Xenia and RPCS3 emulators.

Instead of paying virtually full-price for a 13-year-old video game with less content than the original release, regular HotHardware readers who are particularly keen to play the second "Red Dead" title are almost assuredly best-off playing the Xbox 360 version, either on a newer Xbox console, or by loading up Xenia Emulator and launching your game disc on your PC that way. It runs well in Xenia even on modest hardware, and like on the Xbox, you can boost the resolution and frame rate (but take care with the latter, as it can break the game!)