Normally, when you log into Rockstar’s wild west game, there should be around 30 or so Red Dead Online players roaming the world with you. It is, after all, a multiplayer game. But, if you’ve booted it up recently, you might have entered a barren wasteland — at least when it comes to other actual humans.
According to a handful of Red Dead Online players who spoke to Polygon over Discord, Red Dead Online lobbies have shrunk down considerably following an Aug. 24 update that, in addition to adding new content, lists “stability and security” fixes. Rockstar did not respond for a request for comment, but similar reports have surfaced elsewhere.
One player tells Polygon that they recently entered a game with only two people in it, which might sound bad, except the small player count seems to be helping Red Dead Online. The MMO-lite has had a rough year, with issues so far-ranging that, at one point, it was nearly impossible to do anything in the game. The Western has also had trouble keeping itself populated with animals and NPCs, and every time Rockstar tries to fix it, something else seems to break.
But right now, with tiny player lobbies? Things actually seem to work, fans say.
“Low players session made it easier to get legendary animals,” one fan told Polygon. “If the session is crowded people will fight [...] to get legendary animal, [which is] not efficient,” they added.
On social media, one Red Dead Online community posed a poll asking players if they’d like small lobby counts to be permanent, and out of more than 3,200 replies, an overwhelming number of people voted yes. The consensus seems to be that folks will take the game actually working over making it a social experience.
#RedDeadOnline community, would you be happy if the low player count in sessions stayed?— Red Dead Online Community (@RedDeadRDC) September 2, 2020
Tell us why!
“You don’t see the other players most of the time anyway, the rate at which I encounter people didn’t change all that much funnily,” another fan tells Polygon.
One player says that they “miss player interactions” but they get why people enjoy having the “game function properly.” There is, however, some worry about how long this attitude will last.
“I feel like [people are] gonna get tired of these dead sessions once they see all the encounters and have all the animals,” one fan noted to Polygon.
While Rockstar has not announced such a major change to the game, fans feel that it must be intentional — the update that caused this has been live for over a week, and despite reports, nothing has changed. And for some, that’s just as well. Prior to the update, one of the most-requested features by the community were private lobbies, to the degree that some even figured out how to glitch them into existence.
“I’ve honestly hated Rockstars [sic] decision to force players into public lobbies only in Red Dead Online, so I’m really happy that we currently have low player count lobbies that allow you to either do your own thing, or play with a group of friends uninterrupted,” a Red Dead Online Discord community leader tells Polygon.