The existence of microtransactions in Red Dead Redemption 2 is almost totally assured. Now, I don’t own a gold claim, but if I did, I’d stake the whole thing on the online component being absolutely riddled with them. Grand Theft Auto Online is our canary down this particular gold mine. GTA Online is a pay-to-win game in practically its purest form. Players can put in real money and buy the best weapons, vehicles, businesses, and apartments.
Rockstar generated over half a billion dollars in revenue from GTA V in 2018, five years after the game actually launched. Is this from additional sales? Barely, it’s the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on virtual cash to spent in a digital Los Santos. It’s the ultimate money maker for Rockstar, and surely the leading reason why we didn’t get a story-based single-player expansion. After all, why bother when you can put in a few new cars and a heist and earn $50m in a month?
Arguably, immersion is a far larger part of the Red Dead series than it is for Grand Theft Auto. One is an ultra-violent satirical sandbox, the other is attempting to offer a more sweeping, cinematic tale even, presumably, for its online component. Buying a new car with a Shark Cash card kind of makes sense within GTA Online’s world; rolling up to a saloon and being asked to pay $4.99 for some Rockstar Bucks to buy a whisky is a surefire way to bring you back to reality with a bang.
But, microtransactions will be there RDR2, and it’s all about how they’re handled. Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has been pretty open about how pleased the publisher has been with the recurrent spending model seen in GTA Online. Despite being five years old, and despite generation more than $500m last year, Zelnick said “We are convinced that we are probably, from an industry view, undermonetising on a per-user basis.” So just to get that straight: the CEO of Take-Two believes GTA Online players have been getting a deal that’s too good to be true.
The big question mark now is whether Take-Two and Rockstar try to even more aggressively monetise Red Dead Redemption 2 after launch. The smart money would be on them repeating the exact same tactics as they did for GTA V, it’s proven to work, but you can never underestimate a corporation’s thirst for additional revenue - there is the chance that Red Dead 2 could be absolutely littered with virtual currencies, loot boxes, season passes, and cosmetics. That would be on top of the pay-to-win system we already have. Too much, though, and Rockstar could kill the excitement. Too little, and Take-Two will be breathing down their necks.
What do you think, just how aggressive will the microtransactions (MTX) be in RDR2? Will Rockstar risk putting in more payment opportunities? Let us know!