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Posted by morecowbell24 (227 posts) -

I want to pose a question about branding and marketing in video games. Why does it seem like so many companies have such a fondness for that "2" or "III" in their titles? Is it a crutch? Does the "2" really signify it is bigger, better and more bad ass? It could be the nature of the medium, the upfront asking price usually being $60, or some combination of things, but I don't believe the "2" or "III" is as powerful as marketing teams make it out to be. And for the record, this is about Red Dead Redemption 2.

There are many examples among the highest grossing films indicating that branding isn't the most important part for a movie to make money. The two highest grossing films are Avatar and Titanic. Neither are sequels. Neither relied on their titles to reel in the money. They relied on actual good marketing, word of mouth and their own quality, as did many of the movies that brought in the most money.

Batman Begins (and all other Batman movies for that matter) was outgrossed by its sequels The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Batman is an iconic name many people know, but it was ditched for a lesser known alias of Batman and the movies brought even more money. The James Bond series has never relied on the name "James Bond" or numbering in any of its titles. Word still gets out about them and these movies have raked in the big bucks for the better part of a century. Do you want to live in a world where every James Bond sequel was named James Bond: Dr. No 2 and then James Bond: Dr. No 3 - Goldfinger and then James Bond: Dr. No 4 - Goldfinger 2 and so on? I do not. It makes me feel slimy and gross to just imagine every Zelda game being named in this way.

Red Dead Revolver is the first game in its series, and apart from its setting it's not really much at all like its sequel, Red Dead Redemption. Revolver was not a very well-received game. Redemption changed up the formula and though it borrowed part of the name, it seemed to stumble upon a naming convention that wouldn't have any need for digits. Redemption was a different kind of game than Revolver, and it could be spun that it was a reboot to a series that never really found its footing, but I believe tossing the naming convention aside to be a minor misstep on Rockstar's part.

Fans have long speculated titles for the next Red Dead game recognizing this convention and that ramped up considerably in the few days prior to the announcement. Here's a bunch I recalled and came up with that I'd rather have seen than a fat "2" slapped on the end.

  • Red Dead Reckoning
  • Red Dead Retribution
  • Red Dead Rebellion
  • Red Dead Revolution
  • Red Dead Renegades
  • Red Dead Restoration
  • Red Dead Remorse
  • Red Dead Revival
  • Red Dead Revenge
  • Red Dead Resurrection
  • Red Dead Reddening
  • Red Dead Rising: Revengeance

Maybe Red Dead Redemption 2 will be another tale of redemption, and it just made the most sense. My cynical side is telling me that they're using it as a crutch because they figure it will make the most money, and I'm not entirely sure that it matters as much as they might think. Assuming the game is good, I'm sure they could've named it whatever they wanted, Red Dead Redemption 2 included, and this whole debate I've had with myself matters little, because what's in a name anyway? Hell, I imagine they could've even dropped "Red" and "Dead" and it would've been just fine.

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#1 Posted by Gaff (2768 posts) -

Names / Titles are actually less important than you seem to think they are.

Movies, television, books, comics and even paintings have something that most games don't have (at least for the layman): a distinct iconography and more importantly name recognition of the people involved. Taking your examples in order...

  • James Cameron has built up an impressive filmography over the years. The movie posters for Titanic literally say "From the Director of Aliens, T2, True Lies". That in itself draws people in who wouldn't have normally gone to a movie in which (spoilers) the boat sinks at the end.
  • Batman has a distinct logo that everyone can immediately recognise: a stylised bat silhouette. Look at all three posters for the Dark Knight trilogy. They all feature the Bat symbol and are therefor immediately associated with Batman.
  • Compare the early James Bond movie posters to the later ones. Notice how the early movies all mention James Bond, the protagonist of a popular series of spy books, by name? Notice how the recent ones just mention his famous code name, 007?

You could probably say something about how safe publishers play it by just sticking to adding numbers to the sequels instead of something more creative...

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#2 Edited by hans_maulwurf (635 posts) -

I don't mind it that much, but yeah, right now it seems more marketing driven than anything else.

Which seems ridiculous and unnecessary considering that just the R* logo on red background was enough to make everyone go crazy.

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#3 Posted by TheHT (15794 posts) -

I imagine it's more to do with recognition than sounding "bigger, better and more bad ass." I'm sure someone ran the numbers and said "it'd be better for the average consumer to see the 2 there."

But yeah, I really like it when stuff has different names for each outing. Like you say, The Dark Knight trilogy for example, even if the third title's kinda lame. I guess it's something you see more with books, or at least that's where a series has a name but you can get more front and center the individual book title and author. A Song of Ice and Fire comes to mind.

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#4 Posted by Ezekiel (2257 posts) -

Yeah, I don't think it's a creative decision, but purely a marketing decision. I find the convention trite and banal. I hope it's not another story about John Marston. He doesn't need a second, earlier redemption.

Fans have long speculated titles for the next Red Dead game recognizing this convention and that ramped up considerably in the few days prior to the announcement. Here's a bunch I recalled and came up with that I'd rather have seen than a fat "2" slapped on the end.

  • Red Dead Reckoning
  • Red Dead Retribution
  • Red Dead Rebellion
  • Red Dead Revolution
  • Red Dead Renegades
  • Red Dead Restoration
  • Red Dead Remorse
  • Red Dead Revival
  • Red Dead Revenge
  • Red Dead Resurrection
  • Red Dead Reddening
  • Red Dead Rising: Revengeance

I don't even think it has to start with an R. Red Dead and the Rockstar logo are recognizable enough on their own. My choice would have been Red Dead Damnation. As the name implies, the story would have gone in the opposite direction, having you play as someone with good intentions who becomes progressively more selfish and immoral, eventually dooming himself. People love stories like that. Look at Breaking Bad.

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#5 Posted by GERALTITUDE (5988 posts) -

I think we can all agree that, in general, publishers play it safe and put a number on a game. That said...

I feel that people who just want it to be Read Dead R-word are more obsessed with marketing than R* / Take Two is. Who cares about new alliteration? People put too much stock in the change from Revolver to Redemption. The truth is just that no one played or cared for Revolver, so renaming it meant nothing to anybody. Most RDR players probably don't know Revolver even exists. How can you say you prefer those made up names, which maybe have absolutely nothing to do with the theme of the game, over the number 2? Maybe RDR becomes a series of redemptive tales in the west, than that would make sense, right?

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I feel the comparisons to James Bond and other movies are kind of non-starters, and don't make sense really. Those movies are sold using a soundtrack and tuxedo, as well as the face of a recognizable actor. When they recast James Bond, you better believe the trailer is going to shout JAMES BOND 007 at you ten times over. Batman is this times 10. He is an iconic character. Literally his silhouette is enough to communicate BATMAN. What does Red Dead have that is like that that works at the mass market level? Nothing.

Why bring up Avatar and Titanic but not Minecraft? That wasn't a sequel. Neither was Assassin's Creed, Uncharted, Gears of War, Halo, etc so on. As you can see, it's very easy to go find the first game or movie in a series and say, "look, it didn't have a number in the name, and it was HUGE!". But you know what the sequel to Avatar is called? Avatar 2. And the sequel to Titanic? You guessed it bud! TITANIC 2! :P

Zelda games are named that way, aren't they? That's why every game has THE LEGEND OF ZELDA in the title. Ocarina of Time is not the title of that game. It's The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. There just isn't a number attached to it. But it's definitely not the same paradigm as Batman Begins vs The Dark Night Returns.

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#6 Posted by an_ancient (303 posts) -

It is kind of weird case of a story beat being in the title vs it being a recognizable IP. I mean you could make the same argument that it doesn't matter like Destiny or Final Fantasy. They might have had a better time calling it Red Dead. I mean is it going to be Read Dead Redemption 2 Online ? Tho GTA Online is not GTA 5 Online. Video games.

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#7 Posted by lgustavoms (1 posts) -

Yes and they just renamed the name from 2 to II.

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#8 Edited by LittleWask (115 posts) -

Didn't see anyone else mention this, but I think the 2 makes more sense here than it does is most places. This is still going to be focusing on Dutch's crew, and have a lot of ties to the first Red Dead Redemption. I think we've eventually see Red Dead Revenge one day, once we're done with them Dutch boys.