In a completely unexpected move, Rockstar has revealed a new cross-promotion between the upcoming Red Dead Redemption 2 and GTA Online, also outing a game mechanic of the former in the process. With the Red Dead Redemption 2's projected release window coming up, it makes sense that Rockstar would start ramping up publicity, and this is one of the best ways to do it.
GTA Online players can now participate in a scavenger hunt that tasks them with exploring the game's map in order to uncover a number of clues which eventually lead to a Double-Action Pistol. The weapon itself is a vintage revolver with a gaudy gold and ivory finish doing decent damage. In order to unlock the weapon skin in Red Dead Redemption 2, players have to score 50 headshots with the pistol (this also nets them a nice in-game payout).
The fact that the Red Dead Redemption 2 unlock reward is a weapon skin reveals two things about the upcoming game . First of all, there is going to be an equivalent of the double-action pistol in it available to everyone. Secondly, there are going to be weapon skins allowing you to customize your arsenal.
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This cross-promo is an interesting and fun way to engage with what might be Red Dead Redemption 2's largest potential user-base
GTA Online continues to break records and gain new players, and this scavenger hunt is free, available to all, and has some strong enticement going for it with the weapon and cash. This way a huge chunk of GTA Online's mind-bogglingly large audience will have an indirect engagement with Red Dead Redemption 2, and incentive to buy and play the game. Sure, having unlocked a vanity weapon skin would seem like a pretty weak argument to drop cash on a full-price AAA title, but psychology proves that it works.
So what does this mean for the remaining pre-release period, and the future of Red Dead Redemption 2?
The fact that Rockstar made this move shows that they know to capitalize on their biggest channel for marketing. Ads on web pages, trailers, billboards and so on did their job to market GTA 5, and they will undoubtedly do their job marketing Red Dead Redemption 2. However GTA Online itself has arguably become the developer's strongest delivery method for marketing material.
They have a multi-million person audience logging in every day who are already existing customers and to whom the Rockstar brand means the most. Toss Red Dead Redemption 2 references at them in-game and voila, you have your biggest publicity reach. Basically, this means it won't be the last such cross promo we'll see. Whether these will extend beyond the launch of the game remains to be seen, but Rockstar would be smart to keep it up - it requires relatively few resources and reaches a huge user base. Maybe interested gamers won't pre-order, maybe they won't buy day 1, but they might decide to jump over into the Wild West later on.
This also means that Rockstar has kicked the marketing of Red Dead Redemption 2 into gear. We don't expect much to happen in the final days of 2017, however when the new year dawns, we're fairly certain we'll be seeing a whole lot more of this game in the news, with new screenshots, trailers, reveals and details popping up gradually. Spring 2018 is rapidly approaching, and once again we're starting to slip into that critical period of time where soon it will be too late to *start* the marketing push, which was one of the warning signs back before the delay pushed the date back from Fall 2017.
Whether you play GTA Online whilst waiting for Red Dead Redemption 2, or you're simply anxious to jump into the Wild West without engaging in Rockstar's modern-day franchise, this is good news, because it means more info and news is approaching. 2018 is the big year, and it's almost here.