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Red Dead Online players are protesting. Here's why

Red Dead Redemption 2 players are upset. While the game has been universally praised for its immersion and incredible storyline, there are still some folks who aren't particularly pleased with how the game has continued to develop since launch. Specifically, there's a feeling that the game hasn't received enough noteworthy content updates in recent memory. 

This has led to players protesting in one of the strangest, funniest ways possible. So how are these players protesting? Why, they're dressing their in-game characters up as clowns en masse. No, really.

In an interview with Polygon, a Red Dead Online Discord group administrator who goes by Magnar explained the game's new clown craze. For a while now, Red Dead players have been organizing monthly fashion contests. During these events, players will dress in certain themed getups and submit screenshots of their outfits with the Red Dead Online community. It's a fun way for players to engage one another, but it also highlights a problem that players have with Red Dead Online. There just doesn't seem to be enough new content, which has literally led to players creating their own in-game events like this. 

July's fashion contest theme is "the Traveling Circus." The joke behind this is that Red Dead Online players feel like clowns for continuing to expect new additions to the game. Therefore, they're making a point to dress up accordingly. It's an amusing idea that focuses player frustration into something fun and entertaining.

As Magnar explained to Polygon, "We've seen so many times people who are dissatisfied vent their frustrations in really negative ways. But with the Red Dead community, a lot of people still love the game, they're just disappointed with Rockstar taking them for granted ... but we'll vent any frustrations in a more fun, clowny way."

Not only are players dressing up like clowns to show both their love and frustration with the game, but there are plans for what essentially amounts to an in-game flash mob later this month. According to IGN, the Red Dead Online community is putting together "a major cross-platform clown event next Monday, July 20."

If all goes according to plan, any unwitting players who log in on July 20 will find themselves staring at a sea of cowboy clowns. Not only is that a hilarious mental image, but it brings to mind some of the shenanigans that have occurred within Grand Theft Auto Online in recent months.

Anyone who has logged into GTA Online recently has probably noticed a ton of folks dressed in alien morphsuits. This started as a running gag amongst groups of players, but it soon morphed into an insane green alien vs. purple alien war in GTA Online. Characters dressed in these outfits would attack unsuspecting players and battle against one another. Rockstar even got in on the action, offering the alien costumes for free for a limited time. 

However, as mentioned by Magnar, the goals of the great clown protest are much more benign than the violent alien war. Magnar told Polygon, "Rather than let it turn negative or nasty, which in game communities things often can, I thought I'd turn [our protests] into something a bit more fun or even wholesome in a way."

This isn't the only time in recent memory that Red Dead Redemption fans have been outspoken in their desire for new content. Last month, a petition began gathering steam that called upon Rockstar Games to add single-player DLC to Red Dead Redemption 2. According to the fans who organized and signed the petition, people are willing to pay for an expansion to the game's storyline. Some suggestions have been thrown around, including DLC that features supporting characters from the game series. However, much like the canceled single-player content for Grand Theft Auto 5, it really seems like it's not going to happen.

In theory, this is because Rockstar Games wants to focus on building onto Red Dead Online, much in the same way the developer dropped GTA 5's single-player DLC in favor of expanding Grand Theft Auto Online. That ultimately paid off in the long run for Rockstar, especially considering the fact that Grand Theft Auto 5 is one of the best-selling games of all time and continues to sell new copies. That's also why Rockstar is releasing an expanded version of GTA 5 for the next console generation, nearly a full decade after the game's initial release. However, it's clear that Red Dead fans feel that there's not enough new content for Red Dead Online, which is why they've elected to send in the clowns.

It will be interesting to see if Rockstar reacts to the clown protest in the same way that it did the alien wars in GTA. Maybe this protest will be exactly the kind of thing that makes Rockstar perk up and engage with its players.