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Red Dead Online fans are demanding answers from Rockstar

Why #SaveRedDeadOnline is a trending topic

A player in Red Dead Online holds up a WWI-era trench clearing shotgun while wearing a dapper pork pie hat. Rockstar Games via Polygon
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Rockstar’s open world cowboy game Red Dead Online trended throughout last weekend and into this week, but not for the reasons the publisher might wish. Players are working to make a hashtag viral in an attempt to demand some answers about its continued development. #SaveRedDeadOnline is currently a hot topic on Twitter, and long-time fans are pleading for some kind of update from Rockstar — or at least an explanation as to what’s going on.

Red Dead Online is an add-on to Red Dead Redemption 2, but much like Grand Theft Auto Online, it was spun off into its own standalone product. The fan pushback comes from the lack of recent content updates: Rockstar released the Blood Money update on July 13, 2020, an underwhelming addition after another long stretch of silence, and there hasn’t been a word since then. While individual updates might be good, the overall lack of them means fans remain frustrated. When Rockstar finally did put out an announcement on Jan. 6, it was a disappointing one that focused on experience points and in-game cash bonuses. In the resulting frustration, the #SaveRedDeadOnline hashtag was born.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time on the frontier, cracking a hundred hours of playing both alone and in a posse. My cowboy is an accomplished bounty hunter and trader, with a fully upgraded moonshine shack. I’ve delivered wagons full of pelts, shot down scores of ne’er-do-well bandits, and earned a variety of pretty cosmetics. I’ve moseyed a time or two, you could say. But Red Dead Online has fallen completely out of my rotation due to the lack of updates; it’s hard to rustle up friends when there isn’t a prompt to encourage you to do so. While there are daily challenges and regular discounts, the meat of the game itself is mostly untouched.

Hence, fans are taking to social media to try to show that there is a base of customers who want more Red Dead. While the Western setting lacks the wild, modern day concepts of Grand Theft Auto Online, there’s still plenty of potential for new professions, missions, campaigns, or crimes to pull off. There’s still a lot that fans think is worth “saving.”

This isn’t Red Dead’s first rodeo with fan outrage. In July 2020, Red Dead fans dressed up like clowns as an in-game protest against Rockstar. The game has never received the attention — or attained the success — of sister game Grand Theft Auto Online. Even with that in mind, the long stretch of silence has been disheartening for fans.

Part of the hope behind the #SaveRedDeadOnline hashtag is that it will spur some kind of response from Rockstar, who have remained tight-lipped about the Red Dead Online content schedule. While there isn’t a response yet, the hashtag and its popularity prove that the game still has a fanbase who is still hanging in and hoping for a Hail Mary update.

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