Upon its release in 2018, gamers all over the world spent tons of hours enjoying the massive world of Red Dead Redemption 2. Initially, the console version of the game was only available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Releases to next-gen consoles also have occurred. Many wondered if they’d see a Red Dead Redemption 2 Switch release.
The experience on the base consoles was good. Yet, the best way to play Red Dead Redemption 2, without a doubt, was on the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X. The game was also released a year later on PC.
Since the Nintendo Switch was released in 2017, many wondered why Nintendo’s hybrid console never received a Red Dead Redemption 2 port of its own. In this article, I will discuss why this never came to be. Moreover, why it may never happen in general. Though, no one knows what the future holds.
Rockstar Games Support
The Nintendo Switch has been around for five years. In that time, Rockstar Games has published two games on the console: L.A. Noire, and Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition. L.A. Noire gave Nintendo fans high hopes as it was released in November of 2017. And this was just 8 months after the console hit shelves.
That would turn out to be misleading. The only other Rockstar game to hit the Switch only arrived in November of 2021. Shockingly, this was an entire four years later. Why these were the only games they chose to port to the Switch is still unknown. It’s clear though that Rockstar games doesn’t usually prioritize releasing games like Red Dead Redemption 2 on Switch.
There have been modern GTA games on handhelds before. They go back as far as the PSP and Nintendo’s own DS system. The core of this issue might have come down to my next point.
The Nintendo Switch, despite being capable of some amazing games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is considered to be a fairly weak console. It is capable of some full-fat console experiences like The Witcher 3, Doom and Doom Eternal, and even Rockstar’s own L.A. Noire, which pushed the envelope of what the PS3 was capable of when it first came out.
The issue is, getting these games to fit on the diminutive Nintendo Switch was a feat unto itself. The hero of the Switch era, Panic Button, has been heralded as a studio full of wizards for squeezing these massive games onto the small screen with acceptable performance. Their work on the Doom Games, Wolfenstein, Warframe, and Apex Legends has been incredible, and no doubt a labor of love. Most big game studios like Rockstar don’t have time for this love.
Hardware Limitations Impact the Release of Red Dead Redemption 2 on Switch
The standard developer’s mentality of working on a game and releasing it on a tight schedule just doesn’t work for the Switch. It could take months to fine-tune a game’s graphics and performance to reach an acceptable level, and even then, the Switch is very limited in what it can actually do, due to its aging mobile SOC and limited RAM. This limited power was surely a deterrent for Rockstar in bringing games like Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption to the Switch, even though they were originally released on consoles with similar power.
Even before the system was launched, it was clear that most gamers shouldn’t expect bigger games to arrive on it. It just isn’t cost-effective for most developers to do what needs to be done to get their game there. Moreover, the expansive world in the game may just be too much to see Red Dead Redemption 2 Switch release becoming a reality.
Historically, the best-selling games on a Nintendo console, were Nintendo games. The titles Nintendo create, their core games like Zelda, Kirby, and Metroid, are always going to take precedence over any third-party games in the eyes of Nintendo fans. With the exception of a few key third-party releases, like Ubisoft’s Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, which have crossover audience appeal. The Nintendo Switch changed things a little bit, though.
The demographics changed from the children and elderly of the Wii era, and the “?” of the Wii U era. By combining their handheld and console hardware and software divisions, and focusing on real controls with a novel use case, the Nintendo Switch appeals to just about every demographic. This includes older Millennials who want to play bigger games on their TVs and out on the road. The same people who would like their Rockstar games to be available on their favorite hybrid.
Nintendo directly marketed to these people by including footage of the Switch playing Skyrim in the announcement video. While Skyrim would eventually arrive, the promise of having these huge third-party experiences would all but disappear outside of the many Panic Button ports. And yet, Nintendo doesn’t seem too interested in doing anything to fix that.
Because of the Nintendo Switch’s fairly weak hardware, Nintendo’s lack of support for other large third-party developers, and Rockstar’s own unwillingness, we may never see a Red Dead Redemption or newer Grand Theft Auto on the Switch.
Moving forward, there does appear to be some kind of light at the end of the tunnel. A rumor broke alongside the release of the GTA Trilogy on Switch. It hints that Rockstar may be hard at work on porting their proprietary RAGE engine over to the Switch.
This could open the door for Red Dead Redemption, or, possibly its sequel. Alternatively, it may mean that an older Red Dead game may make an appearance on the Switch. Only time will tell. We will just have to wait and see what ends up being supported in the future. We will also keep our eyes out for Red Dead Redemption 2 Crossplay for the currently released consoles.