It’s now mid-October, and Red Dead Redemption 2 hype has reached a fever pitch. News, both good and bad, is sweeping through the gaming community as Rockstar is gearing up for perhaps the biggest video game launch since the Nintendo Switch back in early 2017.
On one hand, the controversy behind the Vulture interview suggested crunch time toxicity behind the scenes, while at the same time the company has had to address how the company portrays women in its games.
On the other hand, all the information Rockstar has slowly dripped out over the weeks all but assures an unbelievably immersive world filled with the most insane details, from the diversity in wildlife and settings to the attention to weapons and voice acting. Marketing and distribution are most likely working at fever pitch to accommodate the massive demand, but unfortunately, this means that small mom-and-pop shops might be getting left out of the gold mine.
In a recent report by Kotaku, many local shops and distributors have reported that small, independent outlets may not get copies of the game on release and will instead have to wait upwards of one week before they get access to the product. For an industry where customers often demand release-day delivery or head to stores themselves for midnight launches, being cut off from week-one sales essentially translates to losing money to big retailers and digital downloads.
Zach Gieg, the owner of a small chain of independent stores in Philadelphia, predicted that he could have sold more than 1,000 copies, which means a loss of potentially $60,000 from this delay. “We have a very loyal customer base, per se, but I don’t think I’d want to wait for a week. It’s ridiculous. They’re gonna download it or go elsewhere and buy it at a big box retailer,” Grieg told Kotaku.
Those interviewed by the gaming publication did not have a concrete answer as to why this is happening. For some, distributors had told them “there was an issue with supply.” Opinions were varied, from skeptical owners that think Rockstar is controlling for leaks in fear of mom-and-pop outlets selling copies early, to those that side with the supply issue possibility due to rumors of a 2-disc physical print.
Whatever the case may be, this situation wouldn’t be the first time a highly anticipated game has had supply problems. Nintendo is famously known for not providing enough initial print for its titles because of unexpected demand, a headache especially rampant in the Nintendo Switch era.
However, it is odd that any other big-name publisher would have encountered this problem. It certainly isn’t a common occurrence in this industry, and Rockstar had to have known that this is most likely the biggest video game launch of the year.
Local game stores have long embodied the spirit of gaming; they’re community-driven places that exemplify the passions and camaraderie characteristic of the video game hobby. Hopefully Rockstar can fix this problem soon, and that purveyors of these local shops can wait a bit longer to support these vulnerable businesses.