When it comes to making money in video games, few companies are as well-known as Red Dead Online’s Rockstar Games. The company’s most recent release, Red Dead Redemption 2, became the best-selling game ever upon its release, with gamers across the world going crazy for the chance to play as Arthur or the titular character, John Marston. Now that the game has been out for a while, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the methods and strategies that the developers and creators of Red Dead Redemption 2 use to generate their revenue.
Red Dead Online’s Revenue Model
Like any successful business or brand, Red Dead Online’s revenue comes from a combination of traditional methods and innovative strategies. Most notably, the company runs a thriving microtransactions business, where players can spend real money on virtual goods and extras in the game. The model seems to have worked well thus far, as the game has been around for a while and still remains one of the most well-regarded titles on the platform. In fact, due to its highly successful microtransactions, the game probably doesn’t even need an advertisement to make money.
But what is microtransactions? Put simply, it’s a way for developers and publishers to generate revenue by charging players real money to purchase virtual goods and content in their games. The practice began back in the early days of online gaming, when many titles used to feature a ‘power button’ that would allow players to select items from a virtual store without having to spend a cent.
These days, the power of persuasion often plays a bigger role in encouraging players to spend money in an effort to make the game more enjoyable. Case in point, a popular free-to-play mobile game, Candy Crush Soda Saga, liberally uses loot boxes, which are essentially mini-purses full of virtual goodies, including premium currency, which can be spent on improving one’s gaming experience.
This model, where a game requires you to invest in order to have a good time, has become so prevalent that the phrase ‘free to play’ has essentially become a synonym for ‘microtransactions’. So, with that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how Red Dead Online makes money.
The Menus And Navigation
One of the most recognizable features of any Red Dead game is the incredibly detailed and well-explained menus that make selecting items and options easy and fun.
The game’s main menu is laid out in an attractive manner, with a series of sub-menus giving you quick access to various settings and options. When you first boot up the game, you are presented with a short tutorial explaining the basic elements of FPS controls, along with a demonstration of the different weapons and vehicles available in the game. After going through the tutorial, you are then taken to the main menu, which you can use to choose your character, equip them with a weapon, change the game’s language, and set your video settings (if you’re playing on a TV, that is).
At the top of the main menu is a button that allows you to toggle through the various in-game store options, where you can spend your hard-earned money on things like extra outfits, weapons, and more.
The In-Game Store
In the last few years, the in-game store has become such an important part of any game’s revenue strategy that almost every big-name title, including Red Dead Online, now has one.
The in-game store allows players to spend real money on items that enhance their gaming experience. The items available for purchase range from simple skins for your character to fully functioning accessories, such as VR goggles and motion controllers. As with any good retail store, gamers can also find plenty of items that are completely unique to the game and won’t be found in any other titles.
The important thing to keep in mind is that, while the store has plenty of items to offer, most of them are useless unless you have a specific purpose for them. For example, let’s say you want your character to look like John Marston, the main character of Red Dead Redemption 2. If that’s the case, then you likely want to pick up some of the game’s costume pieces, as well as invest in some decent wigs to replicate Marston’s iconic headwear. On the other hand, if you’re playing a western-themed game, you might want to invest in some muzzle-loading equipment for your character, as that’s what real cowboys used back in the 1800s.
Either way, the in-game store allows you to invest in items that will give your character an advantage in the game. While this might sound like a great idea in theory, keep in mind that this model isn’t for everyone. For one thing, let’s say you are a fan of the Terminator franchise and happen to play as one of the iconic robots from the films. In that case, you might not want to purchase any of the item in the game that are associated with humans, as you’ll then have to spend a lot of time taking care of them when they break or malfunction.
Another important factor to keep in mind when it comes to the in-game store is buying cheap items. The more expensive the item is, the more it will cost you in the long run, as you’ll have to spend more time and effort maintaining it. If you want to buy a high-quality item that will last you a while, then you should buy the cheaper version instead, as they are typically more reliable and don’t require as much attention.
Since the in-game store is such an important part of the game’s revenue model, it’s worth taking a look at some of the more notable titles that use it, as well as their pricing structures and how much effort goes into keeping them working smoothly.
Valve introduced a new way to make money with their hugely successful Steam platform in 2014. The service allows game creators to offer their wares to PC and Mac users for cheap, with the revenue being shared between the game creator and Steam.
Valve has built something truly special. Not only does Steam allow game creators to independently publish their titles, it also provides them with tools that allow them to connect with fans and engage with them in new ways. The platform’s popularity is such that it now has hundreds of games available for purchase, with new titles being added to the service on a regular basis. Not all of these games are free, but they are all offered at discounted rates, which encourage players to try out new titles and expand their horizons.
The most important thing to note about Steam, however, is its pricing structure. While games usually cost money, most titles are offered at steep discounts, even to the point where free games are available. The catch is that, in order to access these special deals, you need to join the Steam Guard. What is Steam Guard you ask? Let’s just say it’s a program designed to detect cheating in games.
Joining the Steam Guard is absolutely free, but comes with a few stipulations. First off, you need to install a Steam client on your computer. Next, you need to agree to have your computer periodically scanned for hacking activity. Finally, you need to keep your internet connection and computer updated with the latest patches, as well as give Steam permission to access your account.
It’s important to note that, while joining the Steam Guard is free, disabling your anticheat measures, which are required to play many games, will cost you. In most cases, this means paying a small fee to re-enable them. But, as we mentioned before, not all games on Steam are free, so some of them require payment after all, even if it’s just a few dollars, like in Team Fortress 2.
Origin & Uplay
While Steam has dominated the market for game distribution, Origin and Uplay have become extremely powerful players, especially with the advent of the Steam Deck, which allows players to access their games through their smartphone.
While the service’s functionality is pretty similar to Steam’s, the way Origin and Uplay distribute games varies significantly. Unlike Steam, which only offers PC and Mac games, Origin and Uplay offer games for a variety of platforms, including mobile, iOS, and Android devices. This allows developers to reach a much wider audience and generate more revenue.
Furthermore, most PC games from Steam can be played through Origin and Uplay, with the latter allowing users to play titles on the go, without needing a sufficiently fast and powerful computer.