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Why you won't be playing Red Dead Redemption 3 for a long time

It took some time, but the eight-year wait was more than worth it in the end: Red Dead Redemption 2 was an unquestionable hit. The long anticipated game's first weekend sales topped out at a record-breaking 725 million smackaroos for Rockstar. For a few days, news seemed slow because every other person was shut in their house, living out their dreams of Wild West conquest. And crashing into rocks while distracted by the cinematic mode.

With a massive map to explore and side quests galore, players could spend a good long while immersed in the game, but as with all things, it eventually came to an end. Players wanting more could slake their thirst for outlaw adventures in the new Red Dead Online, creating their own gangs and wreaking the kind of havoc expected from a Rockstar game. But … it's just not the same as the story mode painstakingly crafted to ensnare players for hours on end. For those whose playthrough came to a close, they soon found that they were ready for more. For Red Dead Redemption 3.

Well, we're sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but don't expect the next Red Dead game to be released any time soon. Rockstar's got other priorities at the moment.

Remember that culture of crunch?

The creation of games is costly. And we're not talking about the multimillion-dollar budgets here. Rather, development takes a heavy toll on the people involved. Imagine working for 70 hours a week for two years. Imagine quitting when the strain on your mental health and personal relationships became too much, your hard work going uncredited because you "didn't stick it out to the end." Imagine doing your laundry at work because you haven't had time to go home. This is what the culture of crunch looked like at Rockstar.

Nearing the release of the game, Dan Houser bragged that there had been 100-hour weeks spent working on the game. Rather than being impressed, the games industry was horrified. Then more stories of overworked employees spending their weekends and late nights in the office came out. This hardworking culture shamed employees who left for home at otherwise normal times. Employees said that without insane schedules, the game would have never been completed. With Rockstar now under the microscope because of this scandal, it's unlikely — we hope — for them to continue such controversial practices. And that might mean much longer development cycles. It might've taken too much out of Rockstar to make Red Dead Redemption 2 on time. The smart thing to do going forward would be taking it slow and steady.

GTA 6 will rob all of Rockstar's time

As much fame and fortune as Rockstar has garnered from the Red Dead series, it should be noted that GTA 5 has brought in an enormous amount of revenue. Following that, the studio would be certifiably insane not to make another Grand Theft Auto game. Sure, the pressure is immense, the bar set high by GTA 5, but Rockstar is something of a rock star at making bigger, better sequels. Rather than another addition to the Red Dead series, we're expecting the company to shift all its focus to the fabled GTA 6.

A report by TechRadar claimed that the game has been in development since 2016, and it has further been rumored that players could expect a release as early as 2020, or whenever the next generation of consoles graces us with their presence. With what we know so far, it's probably safe to assume that Rockstar has its hands full with following up one of the best-selling games of all time with a worthy successor. The sun has set on Red Dead and is now rising on whatever city we get to drive recklessly through in the long-awaited GTA 6.

There's also a rumored Bully sequel underway

Remember Bully? The game is classic Rockstar: a little crass, controversial, and creatively cruel. There have been whispers here and there about a sequel for years. These whispers haven't amounted to much, but hopeful fans have held tight to these rumors, the newest of which saying that Bully 2 is right around the corner. A YouTube channel called SWEGTA claimed that a source at Rockstar confirmed that the development of the game was underway.

Additionally, there has been some buzz about an apparent plethora of unannounced Rockstar titles. A Reddit user claiming to be an employee of Take-Two Interactive, Rockstar Games' parent company, posted that they were working on a landing page on the Rockstar site to be released after an unexpected announcement at the 2019 E3 conference. User ThirdeyeReddit said that whatever Rockstar was planning to announce at the conference would "completely blindside you." Some hopeful fans have taken this as an indication, even a confirmation, that Rockstar will finally admit that a Bully sequel will happen sooner rather than later, which would naturally take focus away from any development of new Red Dead games.

Red Dead Online leaves much to be desired

Years after its release, everyone and their mother is still playing GTA Online. A world unto itself, there are entire servers dedicated to realistic roleplaying. With heists, updates, and weekly content, there is good reason as to why over 33.8 million people have logged in to give the game a try. Considering this bombastic success story, it's no wonder that Rockstar has tried to make lightning strike twice and released Red Dead Online following Red Dead Redemption 2.

Here's the thing, though: Red Dead Online isn't GTA Online. Not by a longshot. We're not talking about how there are horses rather than supercars, either. Red Dead Online has a lot of problems like a poor in-game economy, glitches, griefers, and a general lackluster feel as compared to the main game. Rockstar has laid out plans to address these issues and add further content, but in order to get an online community as vast and an experience as polished as GTA Online, Rockstar will have to dedicate a lot of time and work. Before even thinking of a new Red Dead game, Rockstar will have to try to get the ambitious Red Dead Online up to snuff.

Maybe they'll first remake Red Dead Redemption

The rumor mill has been abuzz with speculation after an apparent glitch gave players what could be a glimpse of what's next for Red Dead Redemption. In the postgame content, YouTube user Elemeno Peah was running around as John Marston when they noticed that John's voice was remarkably youthful. Players have identified the voice as that of John's son, Jack Marston, as heard in the end of the first Red Dead Redemption.

This is odd for a couple reasons. Firstly, Red Dead Redemption 2 is a prequel to the first game. Jack Marston is just a little kid. The first game ends with a teenaged Jack, unseen (at that age) in the prequel, avenging the death of his father. This in mind, fans have theorized that the inclusion of Red Dead Redemption content in RDR 2 hints that Rockstar plans on using the new, graphically stunning assets from the second game to remake the first. While this is totally just a theory, remakes and remasters are all the rage right now, and we'd shell out a good sum of cash to replay RDR 1 with the real-to-life graphics of its prequel.

Does the team have more interesting things to say?

The closest thing we have to a confirmation of the continuation of the Red Dead series is in the cryptic words of Dan Houser in an interview with Vulture. Prior to the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, he said that Rockstar may consider making another Red Dead game "if this one does well enough and we think we have other interesting things to say."

Uh yeah, we'd say the game did "well enough" with a record-breaking release and slew of awards. You can't call RDR 2 anything but a success, and this success might be the key to unlocking more content set in the Wild, Wild West. However, we should hold our horses, as it were, for now because of the second half of that quote. It seems to suggest that there isn't yet a story planned out for the next chapter in the Red Dead franchise. Houser served as the head writer of the game, so he would know better than anyone if he thought he had something else to say. Without a story planned out, that's just another thing that will take time to develop. We will have to give Houser time to do his thing and plan the next story.

The story wrapped things up

The plain truth is that we have no idea what the next chapter of the Red Dead franchise would be about. 2004's Red Dead Revolver was largely divorced from the greater story that later titles settled around. Red Dead Redemption 1 and 2 are largely about the story of John Marston and his journey from lawlessness to redemption. His end is bloody, as is the fate of most of the Dutch Van der Linde gang. The first game kills off the remaining members while the prequel tells the tale of their downfall. Each story emphasizes the fact that it's harder than ever to be an outlaw; with westward expansion, times have changed, and the West has become more civilized and adverse to gangs running around.

What's next? Would we follow Jack Marston, who may have grown up to be just like his father? A new character? The Van der Linde saga as we know it is done, so the next story would have an entirely new cast, unless Red Dead Redemption 3 would be a pre-prequel, telling the story of a young Dutch. Where we are in the timeline at the moment is that the West has been won, everyone we know is dead, and proceeding forward is foggy. Dan Houser has quite the job ahead of him in crafting a new story.

Red Dead dev cycles are famously long

Even without all these extra considerations as to why it's unlikely we'll be getting Red Dead Redemption 3 anytime soon, Red Dead dev cycles are famously long. There were six years between the release of Red Dead Revolver and Red Dead Redemption and then eight between it and its prequel. It maybe should have been ten years, if we think about the level of crunch Rockstar developers endured for the final two years of development.

Rockstar is known for taking its sweet time with the creation of its near-flawless games, and we'd expect Red Dead Redemption 3 to be no exception. With the series' history of development in mind, the earliest we could expect a shiny new game would be in the far-off future of 2024. More likely 2026 because there are still more factors that will tie up Rockstar and keep them from devoting all their time and energy to a continuation of the Red Dead Redemption franchise.

The next gen is on its way

The next generation of consoles are on their way. Although we don't know anything definite yet, both Xbox and PlayStation have been heavily hinting that their next consoles will be powerful, PC-rivaling, graphically amazing machines. We're excited, and so is the whole of the industry. To prepare for the future of console gaming, studios like Rockstar Games have started hiring with these consoles in mind. Job listings from Rockstar have recently emphasized "next-gen work."

Good news for gamers in the market for a new console. Bad news for those of us who want a speedy follow up to Red Dead Redemption 2. As we've learned from God of War's Santa Monica Studio, the leap to next-gen often means leaving behind old assets and starting fresh. With the next Xbox and PlayStation on their way, the assets that make up Red Dead Redemption 2 may have to be updated or even thrown out entirely in the creation of RDR 3. Starting from scratch in order to format to next-gen consoles would mean a significantly slowed-down development cycle. As excited as we are for the next big thing in gaming, we're a little worried about when exactly Red Dead Redemption 3 will see the light of day.