Fans of Red Dead Online are fed up with Rockstar’s seeming inattention of late, and they’ve been making their feelings known on social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit with the hashtag #SaveRedDeadOnline.
The hashtag kicked off after Rockstar published an announcement on January 6 about new content coming to Red Dead Online… though most of those using the hashtag would probably hesitate to call it content. The gist of the update is that it increases the rewards for doing a bunch of existing activities in Red Dead Online for a period of time, making it easier to earn gold, experience, items, and other currency. It’s all enhancement to stuff that’s already there, rather than anything new.
— Gaming Detective || #SaveRedDeadOnline (@that1detectiv3) January 9, 2022
An announcement of improved in-game rewards would normally be a cause for celebration in an online game, but a number of other factors have instead turned it into a community breaking point. For one, the last actual content update Red Dead Online received was back on July 13, 2021, and it wasn’t received especially well due to focusing more on quality of life changes and new missions rather than anything meaty or transformative. Prior to that, Red Dead Online received updates roughly every six to seven months or so, a cadence that was already dissatisfying to its players.
Twice-yearly regular content for an online game might, in a vacuum, actually sound pretty good. But there’s another major factor alongside the slow, thin trickle of updates that’s had Red Dead Online fans riled up: its comparison to GTA Online.
The GTA Promise
When Red Dead Online first appeared in 2019, it was initially intended to follow in the footsteps of GTA Online as a persistent, online world for Red Dead Redemption 2 players to sink their teeth into for hundreds of hours, over years of updates. After GTA Online’s success, it seemed certain that Red Dead Online would stand side-by-side with it as a cowboy-stuffed version of Rockstar’s massive, ongoing moneymaker. But in the years since, the differences in support have grown stark.
Like Red Dead Online, GTA Online is also getting major content updates roughly every six months or so, though its updates are consistently much larger and better-received than Red Dead’s. It just saw one of those major updates in December, called The Contract, which added an entire new adventure alongside the usual slate of new weapons, vehicles, and missions. These massive updates are proving financially successful, too. At the end of 2020, for instance, GTA Online brought in its highest holiday earnings ever thanks to the Diamond Casino update.
Dear Rock Star! Please don’t forget that you have a great game like Red Dead Online! Many players, including myself, really want to return to this incredible world again and again. But the lack of attention to the game gets boring:((( #SaveRedDeadOnline #RockstarGames pic.twitter.com/xgfgCXmkrX
— Valentina (@_ValentinaAleks) January 10, 2022
Worth pointing out is the fact that GTA Online is going on nine years old, while Red Dead Online just turned three. When GTA Online was that age, it was getting anywhere between five and eight major updates in a year (depending on how you classify a “major” update).
Red Dying Online
Perusing the #SaveRedDeadOnline hashtag, which is still going strong days after it started, reveals a number of mixed feelings. There’s the initial anger at the lack of meaningful updates in the January 6 post, and reflection on how useless it is to earn more XP and gold when there’s nothing new to spend it on. There are requests for specific kinds of content, like proper player housing, a DLC set in Mexico, more story, and even specific bug fixes. There are plenty of memes of course, and lots of snark directed at GTA Online, though there’s also some support from GTA Online community members who recognize that their cowboy friends are getting the short end of the stick.
— Z5at|زخات (@Z5at73) January 8, 2022
Many of the tweets seem to simply be worried that without major updates, Red Dead Online will die an early death — one that Rockstar is perhaps endorsing by inaction. While meaty content updates are ultimately what they want, the vast majority of users tweeting #SaveRedDeadOnline come across not so much as making demands of developers, as wanting assurance that the promise of an ongoing Wild West world in the tradition of GTA Online hasn’t been broken already by Rockstar and publisher Take-Two.
IGN has reached out to Rockstar for comment.
Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. You can find her on Twitter @duckvalentine.