Rockstar Games doesn’t put out new titles all that often. But when it does, gamers—and the video game industry—pay very close attention.
Red Dead Redemption 2, the latest game from the Take-Two Interactive Software developer, hits the streets today. And it’s a foregone conclusion this will not only be the biggest game of 2018, but could be one of the biggest of 2019 (and maybe 2020 as well).
Rockstar’s better known for its other major franchise, a little title called Grand Theft Auto. The last entry in that series, released seven years ago, has gone on to be the most profitable title in the gaming industry’s history, with more than 90 million copies sold and revenues of over $6 billion.
That puts some pressure on Red Dead, an open world action game set in the old west. While no one expects it to top GTA‘s numbers, Take-Two is counting on it to be a recurring source of revenue for many years, due in large part to a planned robust online world.
The online portion of Red Dead will let players explore the game’s many cities and partake in an ever-expanding number of cooperative and competitive challenges. Recurrent consumer spending (things like the purchase of virtual currency and in-game microtransactions) added more than $460 million to the company’s bottom line in fiscal 2017—26% of the company’s total net revenue. A sizable percentage of that came from GTA Online.
The previous installment of Red Dead sold 14 million copies. And analysts have predicted this new installment will sell 10-12 million units in its first quarter.
Those sorts of expectations are making other publishers steer clear of the game. Many titles, including EA’s Battlefield V, had their launch dates shifted earlier this year. (Though studios, of course, didn’t publicly cite Red Dead Redemption 2 as the reason.)
Critical response to the game has been overwhelming so far. As of Friday mornings, the game had a collective score of 97 on Metacritic.