Although some gamers might question the use of the word ‘franchise’ in the context of the Red Dead video games, there’s no doubt that it is the closest selection of games developed by Rockstar Games to reach anywhere near the heights of Grand Theft Auto. Once Red Dead Redemption 2 is finally released by Rockstar Games later this year, that will be three games published in the same time that 15 versions of Grand Theft Auto have made their way onto the shelves. Rockstar Games may be somewhat to blame themselves for this, with a likely internal focus on GTA, but there is no doubt that the Wild West-themed Red Dead games have the potential to reach a similarly iconic pedestal in the years to come.
The initial Red Dead Revolver reached our video game screens back in 2004, released for the Xbox and PlayStation 2. Rockstar Games purchased rights to the game after Capcom earlier scrapped their initial plans for the series and subsequently changed the setting from an old-school American Western to more of a Spaghetti Western, incorporating vibrant, dangerous characters and thematic soundtracks composed by the legendary Ennio Morricone.
The game was set in the 1880s, following the trials tribulations of Nate Harlow and his partner in crime, Griff, who come face-to-face with the Mexican army. According to Joystiq, Red Dead Revolver sold 920,000 copies by July 2010 and received an encouraging 73/100 from the font of video game reviews, Metacritic. It took another six years for Rockstar Games to publish the sequel to Red Dead Revolver, in the shape of Red Dead Redemption.
Winding the clock forward to 1911, the game still features the growing spat between the American Old West and the Mexicans. The game’s protagonist, John Marston, is one of the most engaging video game characters of all time. His life is turned upside down when his wife and son are kidnapped by the government and held to ransom for his professional services as a bounty hunter. Marston puts his life on the line to get his family back, having to swallow his pride and bring a trio of his former gang members to justice in the process. The depth of the storyline and the open-world gameplay saw Red Dead Redemption receive rave reviews, selling over 12.5 million copies within a year of its release.
There’s no doubt the success of Red Dead Redemption has had a huge influence on the Wild West theme elsewhere in video gaming. The Call of Juarez series proved exceptionally popular both in North America and Europe, while the new Golden Colts video slot that’s available via the Mr Green app, also boasts elements of Red Dead Redemption with the inclusion of a crack team of bounty hunters.
Red Dead Redemption 2 has been long-awaited, with its initial fall 2017 release date put back almost 12 months in order to “polish” the title. If the game is anywhere near as engaging as the brief trailer teased way back in October 2016, there’s almost certain to be more cowboy capers developed in the Rockstar Studios in the years to come.