After months of silence, Rockstar Games have finally confirmed the fears of most Red Dead Online players.
In a newswire yesterday, Rockstar thanked the community for their "support and dedication" but, most importantly, concluded months of doubt over the game's future by announcing a number of changes to the way Red Dead Online will receive support in the future.
We'll dive deep into yesterday's announcement, provide context to the ongoing feud between Rockstar and its Red Dead community and consider what's next...
An answer at long last
In a newswire addressing both the Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Online community, Rockstar had this to say regarding its future plans for Red Dead Online...
"Over the past few years, we have been steadily moving more development resources towards the next entry in the Grand Theft Auto series... and as a result, we are in the process of making some changes to how we support Red Dead Online"
It's no surprise that Rockstar is really starting to ramp up development for 'GTA 6' - the next title in their Grand Theft Auto series is arguably the most anticipated video game to date.
That being said, the fact that Red Dead Online is to be so directly affected by its development will be a huge disappointment to many - particularly its vast, ever-dedicated community.
Rockstar Games confirms they are no longer aiming to provide the large, 'themed' updates such as Blood Money, The Naturalist, Moonshiners, and Frontier Pursuits, that make up the vast majority of the game's content - these DLCs take months of development and require a significant amount of resources that Rockstar deems to be too great when prioritizing GTA 6.
What's to come in Red Dead Online?
It's not entirely game over in terms of new content for Red Dead Online, but I'd be lying if I said there was much to look forward to. Rockstar has confirmed they will continue to provide monthly events for the game, showcasing "the wealth of activities already added to this [the] massively rich world" - a relatively bold statement considering they have not released any new DLC in an entire year.
Rockstar will also continue to offer seasonal special events (most likely Halloween and Christmas) as well as experience improvements and other changes to enhance and maintain a healthy Red Dead Online environment (most likely bug and security patches).
The world will likely be covered in snow at Christmas as usual and Halloween game modes such as Fear of the Dark will return - perhaps Rockstar will rerelease some Halloween Pass content and, dare I say it, even add a new one?
More Telegram Missions and building upon existing modes (Call to Arms or PVP modes?) are also promised this year - with no release window mentioned it's impossible to tell when...
The key takeaway is that Rockstar is moving away from adding any content that requires a client-side update (content downloaded on the players' console or PC), but instead focusing on server-side updates such as changes to existing PVP modes or adding new Call to Arms maps that are far easier to produce and require significantly fewer resources.
If you're hoping for truly new content - you're out of luck.
"We plan to build upon existing modes and add new Telegram Missions this year" - Rockstar Games
The inevitable, but what next?
Without a new DLC for almost a year, and no communication until now, it seemed inevitable this was the only outcome for Red Dead Online. Despite having an immensely strong community always eager to provide suggestions and enjoy new content, Rockstar clearly saw no way forward other than keeping the game just hanging on with the work they had already done.
It's unlikely their attention will ever turn back to Red Dead Online to the extent needed to revive enough community interest and to make up for a colossal content drought.
Those that enjoy Red Dead Online for its beautifully crafted world and its existing content will no doubt keep playing - but without new content, player counts will gradually decline until only a hardcore player-base remains.
In the (slightly adapted) words of Arthur Morgan: "We're Red Dead Online players, in a world that don't want us no more".