By Chris Morris
November 7, 2018

Red Dead Redemption 2, the open world Western game from the creators of Grand Theft Auto, is showing no signs of slowing down at retail.

Take-Two Interactive Software says the title has sold 17 million copies to retailers worldwide. And in its first eight days on store shelves, the company said, it had outsold what the original Red Dead Redemption sold in eight years.

“We are really excited about how it’s doing,” Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, told Fortune. “We’ve sold more than 17 million units. To put that in context, that’s more than most video games … sell in their lifetime.”

Take-Two previously announced sales of $725 million in the first three days.

Over 2,000 developers worked on Red Dead Redemption 2 for seven years. Rockstar Games, the studio that created and oversaw the title, came under fire prior to its release, though, when studio head Dan Houser talked about the workload.

“We were working 100-hour weeks [several times in 2018],” said Houser, a comment that didn’t go over well with an industry that’s trying to step back from an image of enforced (and often unpaid) overtime. Houser later clarified the comment, saying he was talking about a small group of people, not the whole team.

Zelnick didn’t directly address the issue of crunch, the industry term for those long hours. But he did discuss the culture at Rockstar.

“My view is what Rockstar Games has done with their creation of Red Dead Redemption 2, with the creation of Grand Theft Auto 5 and GTA Online is nothing short of astonishing,” he said. “Rockstar is know for being a place that values creativity and places a value on creating that. That’s their culture. I stand behind the label and the culture.”

Up next for Red Dead 2 is the launch of the game’s highly anticipated multiplayer mode. GTA Online has been an earnings bonanza for the company, exceeding expectations every quarter and becoming a huge driver of earnings.

There’s some investor fear of cannibalization of that golden goose with the release of Red Dead Online, but Zelnick downplays that.

“I would never want to be cavalier about something that hasn’t happened, but I don’t understand why there would be canibalization,” he says. “Every new titles competes against every title.”

 

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