How many of you remember that time last year when in the space of a few weeks, Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2 and Call of Duty: Advance Warfare were all launched, in that order? We might be looking at a repeat of that situation later this year if the rumors are to be believed.
After several stories of a promotional film being shot in Montana for a 2017 game, a pair of popular assumptions on what that game could be arose: Red Dead Redemption 2 or a new Far Cry game. For some reason though, the second rumor has taken off in spite of what we believe to be a lack of evidence.
What kicked all this off was a group of filmmakers traveling to a remote location in Montana to shoot a scene with two men fighting near a historic early 1900's church (which they actually renovated for the folk still using the church!). The producer didn't divulge the name of the game they were shooting for but did say that it's a new installment of an existing franchise, that it would take place partially in the fictional Hope County and that it would be released this September.
All of these characteristics fit the bill for Red Dead Redemption 2. However, concurrently with this story, rumors of a new western Far Cry game being in the works also popped up and spread like wildfire, leading some to assume that the team was actually shooting for that title. Evidence in favor of it being a Far Cry game includes the producer having previously worked on Far Cry Primal's live action trailer.
That said, it isn't even certain there is a new FC title coming this year - nothing in respect of the Far Cry series has been announced while of course Red Dead Redemption 2 has been confirmed by Rockstar.
Actually, part of the whole Far Cry rumor was fuelled by an alleged meeting between a gaming journalist who just happened to encounter two drunk Frenchmen in a bar somewhere and coax them into spilling the beans on a supposed new Far Cry game, though even they didn't name any names.
Thing is, these slew of rumors about a western Far Cry might be entirely wrong at the concept level.
Jason Schreier, a writer at Kotaku - a site known for often getting wind of leaks ahead of any other publication - indicated that there is no reason to assume the next Far Cry game will be a Western, simply that it will take place in Montana. Reporting about the rumored Far Cry title has been divided too, with as many sources saying it will be a modern day title as there are ones claiming it will be a Western. At the same time, Schreier alluded that tips saying that this is for Red Dead Redemption 2 are incorrect, and people looking for another answer are on the right track.
Thing is, a modern day Far Cry game set in a fictional version of Montana, focusing on some whacko militia, better fits the franchise's style than a full on Western does. Previous installments were heavily focused on vehicles - aside from Primal, of course - which would be difficult to implement in a Western setting. On the flip-side, it's true that in the past Ubisoft ran a poll to gauge players' preferences regarding future settings for the franchise, and "Western" was fairly popular.
Even so, with no announcement about a new Far Cry title of any kind, the time between now and September is fairly tight to release an as-yet unannounced game, especially one as high profile as Far Cry. The existence of Red Dead Redemption 2 has been public for over half a year now, making it a much more likely candidate, not even considering what a poor financial decision it would be to launch a Western Far Cry so close to the projected release date of RDR2.
We brought up the situation of the three shooters from last year, because that release schedule left Titanfall 2 with some really poor sales figures, even though fans and critics loved the game alike. Since Battlefield and Call of Duty had more publicity and brand recognition, those games attracted significantly more players. A similar situation could arise here as well, with Red Dead Redemption 2 stealing sales from a western Far Cry.
While Far Cry may be a major franchise in its own right, and one of Ubisoft's leading IPs, it just doesn't have the kind of pull that Red Dead Redemption 2 does. Between the two franchises, Red Dead has a larger mainstream audience and based on the massive amount of hype around it now, it is going to blow anything else out of the water come Fall. There wouldn't be much sense in launching a rival to RDR2 from a franchise like Far Cry - even if there is a western FC in the works, Ubisoft would likely schedule it a year after RDR2 at least.
On the flipside, if they actually come out with a Western Far Cry this September (following a really rushed marketing campaign), a double-down on AAA Westerns so close to one another might kick the genre a few notches higher on the popularity scale, leading to more Western games. We've written in the past how RDR2 might end up "reviving" Western games per-se, but being reinforced by Far Cry would make it almost certain.
Of course, we're by no means saying we'd mind a Western Far Cry game being released this year - Far Cry is a popular franchise for a reason, and getting more Western titles could only be a good thing. It's just that the signs aren't really pointing at that outcome, nor would it be an astute move on Ubisoft's part.
In any case, if, in the end, it does turn out that the live-action shoot was for a game other than Red Dead Redemption 2, the developers and publishers of said title should get ready for some mediocre sales figures. 2017 has room for two Westerns, definitely, but not two successful Westerns.