Rockstar snubs PC with baffling Red Dead Redemption 1 port that's only coming to Switch and PS4

John Martson points a shotgun at the screen in keyart for Red Dead Redemption.
(Image credit: Rockstar)

In a move that stunned onlookers (me) and assembled experts (also me) are describing as "mystifying," Rockstar has finally come out and announced its freeing Red Dead Redemption 1 from its PS3 and Xbox 360 prison, by, uh, porting it to the Nintendo Switch and the… PS4? Apparently so!

Announced today, the new "conversion" of the original RDR is set to leave its outdated platforms behind in favour of other, different outdated platforms on August 17, marking the anticlimax of a story which got properly started in June this year, when the Korean game rating agency let slip that it had taken a look at a game called "Red Dead Redemption". It's not coming to PC at all, which is as confusing as it is kind of funny, in that way despair is funny.

Plenty of people—myself included, I admit—hoped the Korean leak presaged a new edition of the Rockstar classic on PC and modern consoles for the first time ever. Alas, it's not to be, no matter how much Rockstar tries to sell it as coming "to modern PlayStation systems" in its announcement. Backwards compatibility for PS4 games on the PS5 doesn't count, Rockstar!

The conversion isn't being done by Rockstar. Instead, it's being carried out by Double Eleven, a British studio that was founded by former Rockstar devs in 2009. You might know it as the developer that currently oversees production of Prison Architect after Introversion moved on to other things.

Given what an acrid house fire the GTA Trilogy Definitive Edition turned out to be, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised by Rockstar doing something inexplicable and unexpected when it comes to its back catalogue, but I really am perplexed by this one. Sure, it makes sense to put the game on Switch—its underpowered and old but still wildly popular and remains the newest console in Nintendo's arsenal—but I can't quite figure out why you'd go through the effort of putting the game on the PS4 and not the PC or more modern consoles for the life of me.

There's probably (probably) a good game design reason for it that I'm too unlettered to understand. Perhaps the time and resources required to shift RDR 1 onto PS4 is meaningfully less than would be required to put it on PS5 and PC, for instance.

I've reached out to Rockstar to ask about its reasoning behind not porting RDR 1 to PC, and I'll update this piece if I hear back.

For now, I guess Red Dead 1 is slightly less inaccessible than it was before, but this is still no fit state for it to be in. I'd love if it were the case that this conversion was just to whet our whistles for something more substantial—a remaster or remake—further on down the line, but I'm not holding my breath. Rockstar seems to operate according to arcane and unknowable laws when it comes to its older games, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.