The question of Red Dead Redemption 2 eventually making its way to PC is hot on the minds of fans months after launch on the PS4 and Xbox One.
The first game developed by Rockstar specifically for the current generation of consoles, RDR2 is a wholly different beast compared to Grand Theft Auto 5. Between shifting market dynamics and an unclear business partnership, just how likely is a PC port this year?
When fans and analysts try to make predictions about Red Dead Redemption 2, eyes are always aimed at GTA 5 as a basis for comparison. The record-breaking, continuous success of the 2013 game should serve as an example for any AAA studio when it comes to what they can hope to achieve. Shipping over 100 million copies and topping sales charts 5 years after release are achievements that no other game can boast.
Red Dead Redemption 2 was released to commercial success and critical praise on two platforms - the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, with Rockstar entering a timed exclusivity and marketing deal with Sony. Many of the game's marketing materials carried PS4 branding and PS4 players gain access to some content earlier.
GTA 5 also only launched on the respective Microsoft and Sony consoles of its era (Xbox 360 and PS3), before being ported to the current-gen systems and eventually PC. The main difference between it and Red Dead Redemption 2, however, is history.
Grand Theft Auto began on PC, and almost all games in the franchise are available on the platform. No Red Dead game is playable on PC and they never has been.
At least natively. This is where the Sony partnership becomes important with respect to the PC question. Red Dead Redemption can be played on PC (albeit only with a Dualshock controller and horrible latency) via the PS Now streaming service, which allows subscribers to stream a number of games from a set library to either their PlayStation consoles or PCs.
In the past we've speculated that the game being available on PS Now is what prevented Rockstar from using RDR2's hype to retroactively port the 2011 original to PC, in spite of their being a huge amount of interest ever since it originally launched almost a decade ago.
It is also possible that this marketing deal cooked up with Sony is preventing Rockstar from porting RDR2 as well, though we can't know for how long.
That said, releasing Red Dead Redemption 2 on PC might be something that Take-Two will be looking at more intently in the coming months. As big of a success as Red Dead Redemption 2 was and is, Red Dead Online is causing the company some problems. The player base is flaky, so Take-Two can't report particularly strong numbers, and the mode has kicked up some controversy over content and monetization.
While players have expressed frustrations with the online mode, it is important to remember that Red Dead Online is still in beta phase and that many of its features will be tweaked, and more content is on the way.
A PC release, on the other hand, may kick things into gear once again.
In spite of some hiccups with the multiplayer features, Red Dead Redemption 2 is still widely regarded as a masterpiece and droves of gamers who don't play on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One are waiting for their chance to experience Arthur Morgan's story. It's important to remember that the main target audience of Red Dead is wholly different from that of GTA, it being a more mature game with slower pacing.
Even if one factors in reportedly low sales figures for GTA 5 on PC, you must consider that (1) these usually don't account for digital purchases; and (2) those numbers are low only in comparison to the absolutely insane console figures, and on their own are impressive. Red Dead Redemption 2 was hyped for so long, and so hard, that even an unannounced surprise PC release would turn a massive profit.
Players have been clamoring for this, and petitions sprung up the moment the game was announced. Porting a console game to PC isn't as easy as flipping a switch, but it still costs significantly less than developing an entirely new product. It would, however, draw a whole new platform's worth of players to purchase the game, and play Red Dead Online too.
Taking advantage of PC hardware, Rockstar would be able release an even more visually impressive game than we have now, and if they foster a healthy modding community (modding is currently only viable on PC for the vast majority of games) it would ensure a steady stream of passive marketing through the discussion and sharing of popular mods and add-ons.
In short, releasing a PC version of Red Dead Redemption 2 has numerous advantages and no disadvantages that we can see, and doing so in 2019, while the game is still hot off the press, would be the most ideal time to do so.
Analysts peg the beginning of the next console generation to be 2020 or 2021, and all three separate launches of GTA 5 came year after year. This way the original release in 2018 could be followed by PC on 2019 and next-gen in 2020, if the predictions hold up.
We would certainly like to see Red Dead Redemption 2 come to PC sooner rather than later.