Red Dead Redemption 2’s October 26 release date is changing the industry’s fall release schedule for the first time in years. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 represents the most notable example. The fourth Black Ops launches on October 12, one month earlier than the November window the series has owned for years. Even Assassin’s Creed is shifting dates. Odyssey hits October 5, despite Ubisoft’s globetrotting franchise typically launching in late October or early November. Does Red Dead have two fo the world’s biggest game series running scared? It seems so. According to Take-Two’s CEO, Strauss Zelnick, the publisher is sweating bullets about the new entry, too.
During an E3 interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Zelnick shares, “We’re running scared too. I think a healthy degree of paranoia and insecurity about releases is probably a good thing. I’m fond of saying that arrogance is the enemy of continued success.”
Zelnick continues, revealing how the publisher both measures and manages success.
“We don’t believe in our success until we deliver it. We never claim victory until it’s occurred. We have very powerful, smart, capable competitors bringing great products to market and we need to win – that means we have to work harder than the next guy.
“I don’t think this is a numbers exercise around attach rates – I think this is a question of how phenomenal is the product, and does it capture people’s attention and imagination? The answer is clearly it’s going to do well, but it’s very difficult to say how well. It’s going to be a big success, but it’s a question of how big?”
Considering Grand Theft Auto V’s persistent growth, and its becoming the most profitable entertainment product in history, expectations for Red Dead Redemption 2 should be similarly aligned, right? Wrong, argues Zelnick. Sales expectations are tame, even though Take-Two believes it will perform well commercially. Zelnick explains,
“It’s hard to expect anything to perform as well as the most profitable entertainment product of all time. I don’t think that’s a realistic expectation. Our hope, and also belief, is that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be an extraordinary creative product and that it will do incredibly well. Beyond that I can’t say – I don’t think anyone can say. We have to release it and see what consumers think.”
With the year’s most anticipated release merely months away, Red Dead’s appearance at E3 2018 wasn’t just hoped for among fans, it was expected. Yet, the game didn’t feature in any of the conferences. Additionally, fresh details or a new trailer also failed to coincide with the biggest week in gaming. In fact, Take-Two’s E3 presence overall was remarkably limited, largely due to a lack of game releases on the horizon. Zelnick addresses this, too, divulging the publisher’s stance on E3.
“The show is really productive for us when we use the opportunity to meet our customers from around the world, to meet analysts who follow the company and to talk to press about what’s going on. And while there are consumers here, it’s not primarily a consumer show. We are more effective doing business here than doing promotion here.”
Maybe this will change in years to come, once the publisher has more to show. Surely, a Borderlands 3 or new BioShock entry will someday warrant Take-Two once again feeding into the E3 hype. Unfortunately, the wait for such reveals is probably a little longer than most would like to admit. At least the wait for Red Dead Redemption 2 nears its end. The prequel hits store shelves on October 26.