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.