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.

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