When we discuss game companies that put quality over quantity, not many names strike in our mind. And as you might’ve already guessed, Rockstar Games is one of the names that ring a bell. Rockstar’s latest release Red Dead Online has found itself in the circle of criticism, which has become a reasonably common space for games to be in these days. Reason? A broken and absurd in-game economy favouring heavy-grind that is barely rewarding.
I was scrolling through Reddit when I stumbled upon one of my friends’ interesting take on the whole situation. What if Rockstar has purposely implemented a broken economy? What if they knew fans would go against the grain? What if they’re waiting on a bait and switch, first upsetting the fans and then bringing them back to paint themselves as a generous company?
Rockstar knows they won’t settle at the current version of the game. Red Dead Online is still in public beta and we’re still uncertain about the final version. The company might have set the bars high, intentionally enough to take in feedback from players and later play the “we hear you and we’ll make changes” act. A perfect win-win situation.
Take this scenario. Rockstar has fixed all the bugs and glitches players reported and the final version is ready to be rolled out. What Rockstar will do here is they’ll rework the economy, cut prices up to 60% to 70% and become the generous company that listens to its community. A perfect act of good faith.
The bait and switch might be intentional. Rockstar is baiting players with an unfinished and broken product that they know will upset many, only to switch it with the drastically less extreme version. However, me and my friend both settled on a conclusion that the prices in the online world would be still comparatively higher than in the story mode. Long story short, Rockstar is sacrificing some initial reputation to earn some under false pretences. They know that anyone who sees through this and points it out will just get handwaved away as being “entitled” by ignorant gamers and games journalists alike.
And Rockstar seldom worries about their reputation or sales. Being a company loved by its fans, they can walk out of troubles as nothing happened. A prime example is the recent 100-hour work controversy that had no effect on Red Dead Redemption 2’s sale or the company’s image among its fans, despite all the discussions and fuss created by many outlets.
Another great possibility behind the framework might have to do something with GTA Online’s economy. Rockstar is aware of the reputation their microtransactions have in GTA Online and naturally they don’t want to dial it back. A lot of people were expecting worse than the GTA Online launch and the company knew it. Hence, they’re risking additional reputation in order to gain more than they might have lost if the expenses came cheaper.
Moreover, we shouldn’t forget the fact that Red Dead Online is still in beta. And Rockstar has the liberty to change any-and-everything currently in the game. From character customisation to buying horses, from guns to hair pomades, everything could get cheaper in the final rework.
Plus, it’s a massive stress test for the game and a dedicated period to obtain feedback from players and make things right. And as I mentioned it earlier, Rockstar might have started with the unobtainable side of things, knowing they can dial back prices after gathering metrics at any given time.
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