You gotta pay your dues before you pay the rent
This industry ticks along to a certain rhythm, and the longer you spend in it the more you learn to keep time with it. GDC turns into E3, then Gamescom and, this month, Tokyo Game Show; still to come amid the rush of autumn review code is PlayStation Experience. Then we put our feet up for a bit and ring in the New Year before the cycle begins anew.
Only rarely does something come along to disrupt it. New hardware yanks the industry out of its comfort zone, certainly, but still in a very organised, controlled and collaborative way. There might be the occasional new event – PS4 was unveiled in New York; Xbox One, disastrously, in Redmond – but by and large a new hardware year is much the same as any other. It’s just more exciting.
It is rare indeed that a single game can not only have that same level of impact on the game industry, but often transcend it. In fact, there’s really only only company on the planet that does it. Ever since 2002, when Vice City arrived soon after GTAIII’s breakout success, the release of a new Rockstar game has been not so much a launch, as an event.
It’s one the industry knows better than to try to beat. The traditional flood of new releases slowed considerably last year: that’s partly about the industry finally cottoning on to the fact that there are 12 months on the calendar, and people play games all year round. But it was also about getting out of Red Dead Redemption 2’ s way, since it was originally slated for launch late last year. Now it is finally here, it is happening again; we have an uncommonly quiet Q4 ahead of us, and this is the reason.
Having played it, the wider industry is probably making the right decision. We’ve spent six hours with the game, more than any publication so far, and started the game from the beginning – the first outlet in the world to do so. We’ve been granted access to senior staff at one of the most secretive studios on the planet to tell the story of the biggest game of the year, of the generation, and of Rockstar’s storied history.