Either Rockstar's betting big on a bright future for Red Dead Online, or perhaps it's becoming a testbed for changes coming to its more popular sibling Grand Theft Auto Online. Starting next month, Red Dead Online will become available as a standalone game separate from Red Dead Redemption 2, and on top of that, it'll be just $5 when it makes the break.
On Dec. 1, Red Dead Online will launch as its own title on all platforms (PS4, Xbox One, and PC via all participating storefronts) for an introductory sale price of $4.99. After Feb. 15, 2021, that'll jump up to a regular price of $19.99. Content-wise, the standalone version will be no different from what Red Dead Redemption 2 owners get. All the same free updates will also arrive for standalone owners.
At least at some level, this has to be a vote of confidence from Rockstar in its future plans for Red Dead Online. Red Dead Redemption 2 was hugely successful, but the online component has struggled to retain players in the face of long gaps between content updates that many have seen as underwhelming. Still, Grand Theft Auto Online wasn't in the greatest shape right after launch either, so there's always hope that things could turn around. A new injection of players buying in at $5, all of whom can enjoy the updates Rockstar has already produced, might be the right way to kick off a new era for Red Dead Online.
Meanwhile, anyone who wants to get in on Grand Theft Auto Online still has to buy GTA 5 for the moment. A standalone launch for next-gen is planned when GTA 5 gets its second port to a new generation of consoles in 2021 (for the first three months it's out, PS5 owners will be able to claim Grand Theft Auto Online for free).
Actually, that raises another point that might ruffle the feathers of Red Dead Online players who've gone as far as donning clown get-ups to grab Rockstar's attention: GTA 5, released in 2013, is guaranteed a new coat of paint on the PS5 and Xbox Series S/X while Red Dead Redemption 2 isn't. Red Dead Online will also be playable standalone in backward compatibility on the new consoles.