Rockstar Games has been keeping a stiff upper lip about porting their wildly successful Red Dead Redemption II, and now Red Dead Online, over to PC. This weekend a Reddit user came across a LinkedIn profile for a Physics Programmer at Rockstar Toronto who worked on Red Dead Redemption II and who lists “PC” among the game’s platforms.
The Reddit post also mentions an instance of this type of profile slip-up happening before, with a Rockstar developer from their Leeds offices. There’s always the chance that these are simple mistakes, but many are taking it as more hopeful signs that a PC version of Red Dead Redemption II is not only inevitable, it’s going to be made available sooner than later.
So far, the most solid evidence for a PC port of Red Dead Redemption II comes from a deep dive into a companion app that launched alongside the console-exclusive game. The app allows for a secondary screen for improved accessibility. A data miner with Rockstar Intel uncovered several file names embedded in the app’s code that indicate PC support and connectivity. Some of those files mirror ones used for the PC port of Grand Theft Auto V.
The first Red Dead Redemption game is a follow up to Rockstar’s Red Dead Revolver, and it was received very favorably on its release for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010. The developers released Red Dead Redemption as a console-exclusive, and it (mostly) remains that way today–the game can be played on PC via Sony’s PlayStation Now subscription service. PC gamers have not lost hope that this time Rockstar will come around and release this beloved game directly for their platform.
Why the console exclusivity for this title anyway? All the way back in 2012 Rockstar posted an “Asked & Answered” feature to their website, fielding questions on their various titles. Two questions asked why there was no PC version of Red Dead Redemption, and wondered if “Rockstar abandoned the PC platform.” Rockstar has since successfully ported many of their titles to the PC, and the Red Dead series is a marked exception.
Rockstar responded to those questions as follows. “Of course we’re well aware that some fans have been asking for it. All we can say is that whenever it is viable (technically, developmentally and business-wise) for us to release a game for PC (or any other particular platform) – we will and we usually do; unfortunately, that is just not the case 100% of the time for all platforms.”
Grand Theft Auto V, another heavy-hitting Rockstar title, experienced several developmental delays of its PC port, but sold well, if not as well as console copies. Forbes reported that Grand Theft Auto V for PC sold two million units in its first month through Steam, which is impressive until the numbers are compared to the console release. Grand Theft Auto V for consoles sold 11.2 million console copies in its first 24 hours.
There’s also the issue of revenue splitting for developers of PC games, which could be a factor for Rockstar and their parent company Take-Two Interactive. Many gaming companies are choosing to list their games through the Epic Games Store instead of Steam. Ubisoft’s triple-A title The Division 2 will be an Epic Games and Uplay PC exclusive, and other major titles like the upcoming Borderlands 3 and Ghost Recon Breakpoint are debuting with Epic Store exclusivity as well.
Take-Two’s indie dev publishing label Private Division will be publishing Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds and are making the game Epic Store exclusive as well. It’s possible that Rockstar and Take-Two are weighing their options on how to distribute a port of Red Dead Redemption II to PC with an eye on maximizing revenue, given the recent disruption in the industry.
Red Dead Redemption II released in October 2018 and is currently available on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.