It’s Good That Red Dead Online Is Officially Dead

Just a day after Red Dead Online players agreed to hold a mock funeral in protest of the lack of updates, Rockstar killed the game officially. That’s one way to one up your critics, I guess. While there is a chaotic side of me that hopes the timing was deliberate – what’s one more ‘fuck you’ to the players, eh? – ultimately it’s for the best. Players and Rockstar can both move on with their lives.

I wrote recently in praise of Rockstar pushing back against the demand that it waste its time on remakes, and this feels very similar. I’m less willing to praise Rockstar for abandoning Red Dead Online, but it all comes from the same place. Rockstar makes the biggest games in the business, and with the scope set to get even bigger in the current gen, that means we can expect GTA 6 to be colossal. That means it needs to move resources around, and with GTA Online unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon, Red Dead Online is what had to give.

A recent statement from Rockstar confirmed that while GTA Online will continue to see “gameplay updates”, Red Dead Online will receive no “major themed content updates like in previous years”. It’s dead. And now we can all move on.

For the record, I am not saying it’s a good thing that Rockstar abandoned Red Dead Online in the first place. It’s very strange that, considering the huge success of GTA Online and the massive sales numbers of Red Dead Redemption 2, the online mode was left to die. Perhaps GTA Online’s complete domination was a hindrance – rather than creating an entirely new online mode that lets you a posse of friends pony up in the dying days of the Old West, we instead get GTA Online in a cowboy outfit. It was never going to work when you consider how driven GTA Online is by high-octane gunfights, satirical storytelling, and an open world that in many ways is very different to what Red Dead Redemption 2 set out to achieve. Game was rigged from the start.

Instead of Shark Cards, we’re buying Gold Bars. It’s obvious Rockstar didn’t know how to make Red Dead’s multiplayer mode work within the GTA Online framework, but with Los Santos bringing in so much cash, there was no other option. Everything was funnelled through GTA Online. Fresh ideas were very rare in RDO, and the biggest shame is that a real crack at creating an online world might have been extremely cool if it wasn’t forced to live in the shadow of another one.

This is why it’s good that it’s dead. Have your funeral. Yee your last haw. Then move on with your life. I wish Red Dead Online was good too, but it just wasn’t. It never has been. It was never going to be. It’s over. If nothing else, Rockstar offering us some real closure on the issue is all we can ask for.

Without it, players might have kept chugging along, pouring money into a game that didn’t deserve its time or efforts. With how huge Rockstar is as a company, and how impressive the single-player experience of Red Dead Redemption 2 is, it’s understandable that people were holding out hope. Especially when the game follows the footsteps of GTA Online which continues to receive updates practically every day.

Online games fade away eventually, and while it’s disappointing that Red Dead Online died so soon and never really had the chance, we all have to move on. Rockstar’s confirmation kills any hope that the game might get better, so now we should all abandon it too.

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