Exploring the Inherent Betrayal of the Red Dead Redemption 2 Steelbook
Red Dead Redemption 2 is renowned as one of the most immersive open-world video games ever created. From the thrill of traversing a landscape lush with wild creatures and human inhabitants, to the satisfaction of playing out the narrative of a lawless gang looking to make one final run at securing a future for themselves out West. But a hidden narrative within the game reveals an underlying betrayal that raises questions about the game’s own steelbook promotion.
At the heart of the game’s story is the relationship between Arthur Morgan, Dutch van der Linde and John Marston. Through the course of the game, Dutch and the gang betray each other in a variety of ways. John is betrayed by Dutch’s reckless ambition, for example, while Arthur is betrayed by Dutch when he is forced to make a difficult decision at the end of the game.
This same sense of betrayal appears in the game’s promotion. Anyone who pre-ordered Red Dead Redemption 2 was likely offered a steelbook version of the game. This version featured an image of the gang wearing their signature outfits: the red bandana for Dutch, the white hat for Arthur, and the black hat for John. Yet, when one looks deeper into the game’s story, it is revealed that John is actually betrayed by the gang more than once. He is abandoned in an outlaw’s hideout and later forced to fight his way out of town. The betrayal is highlighted most when Dutch betrays him at the end of the game.
This begs the question: why would the steelbook image have depicted the three as though they remained loyal to each other, when in actuality they do not? Did the game’s marketing team not realize the implications of the image? Or did they consciously choose to depict the gang as united despite the narrative of betrayal? If so, what action-packed message were they attempting to convey?
Either way, the image used on the steelbook can come across as misleading, if not blatantly false to those familiar with the game’s plot. Questions surrounding Red Dead Redemption 2’s steelbook packaging raise important questions about the importance of accuracy when utilizing marketing materials as part of a larger promotional strategy. It is up to the game’s marketers to ensure that their materials accurately represent the experiences that will be had during the game. Anything else could just be seen as a form of false advertisement.