After months of speculation, the Red Dead Redemption remaster/remake saga hit a damp squelch of an anticlimax yesterday afternoon, when Rockstar proudly announced it was porting the basic version of the original PS3 and Xbox 360 game, plus its Undead Nightmare DLC, to the Nintendo Switch and PS4. For $50, no less. Fans were upset.
"C'mon Arthur we only need to sell one more copy of Red Dead Redemption for switch at 50$ and tomorrow will be eating mangoes" pic.twitter.com/QfEhWA1NDxAugust 7, 2023
Fans continue to be upset, actually. Red Dead community hubs have gone into full-on mutiny mode, trading memes that excoriate and mock Rockstar's decision-making and encouraging one another to boycott the port entirely.
"Do not buy Red Dead Redemption," reads the title of a much-upvoted and awarded thread in the subreddit all about Red Dead Redemption. Its author, dtv20, explains their reasoning thusly: "It's a $50 port of a 13 year old game" with "no graphical enhancements. No FPS enhancements" and "no multiplayer." "Don't buy this cash grab," they conclude.
I'm always wary of the phrase "cash grab," which is usually used to paper over holes in our understanding about how particular games come to be, but I get the frustration. After over a decade of RDR1 being trapped on consoles that most of us—at best—have locked away in lofts and garage, it's bewildering to see the game's stewards decide that the best thing to do is port it to a decade-old console (and the Nintendo Switch, which at least makes sense) but leave PC in the dust.
Plenty of fans have pointed out the incongruity between RDR1's new port—and its price—and the backwards compatible version that fans can play right now over on Xbox Series S/X. You can pick that one up for a mere £25/$30 right now, and have it run with a suite of Xbox Series X enhancements that make it look very pretty indeed. It's regularly on sale, too, as noted by user AveryLazyCovfefe, who wrote, "$50, holy hell. While I found it for as low as $8 on Xbox. Which has a resolution boost."
Washington Post games reporter Gene Park likewise pointed out that his own, backwards compatible Xbox version of the game still had its multiplayer mode, and that his cowboy from 13 years ago continues to toot, shoot, and potentially root in the wide ramble of the American frontier even in 2023. The new port won't include a multiplayer mode.
red dead 1 multiplayer still live and populated on xbox, in 4K. my cowboy from 13 years ago resurrected from the cloud pic.twitter.com/pZPh6mdQNOAugust 7, 2023
Others are just revelling in an opportunity to make fun of Rockstar, which, you know, fair enough. A popular post on the Poorly Aged Things Twitter account simply consists of a screenshot of 2021 VGC article about Take-Two—Rockstar's parent company—declaring that it was not interested in "simple ports" for its remaster strategy.
pic.twitter.com/wRE1iR6yiDAugust 7, 2023
Back on Reddit, some users are delighting in the number of dislikes Rockstar's announcement trailer has accrued; some are kicking themselves for ever getting their hopes up, declaring "Rockstar is Dutch and we've all become Arthur," and some are just lamenting a remake that was probably never in the cards but that many people got their hopes up for anyway.
It's a darn shame. Red Dead 1 is a well-loved game, and it's been trapped on dead consoles for far too long. While it'll be good to have it in places where it can at least be played on modern systems via backwards compatibility, it feels like much, much less than a game of its significance deserves. Plus, of course, we want to see it on PC, if only for the inevitable cavalcade of mods that replace John with Arthur Morgan. But at least one good thing has come out of all this: Here is a picture of Kirby in cowboy boots.
red dead redemption on the nintendo switch pic.twitter.com/XxzekyhNn3August 7, 2023