Sources: Red Dead Redemption development in trouble [update]

When we recently spoke with our trusted sources from Rockstar San Diego, in addition to yesterday's information regarding the Midnight Club franchise, we were also told about the allegedly troubled state of Red Dead Redemption. One source said that the game "was a complete disaster for most of 2009 and previous ... it has since turned around a little bit, but there are huge problems with it still." Unsurprisingly, the issues with the game are repeatedly claimed to be the result of mismanagement -- along the same lines as what was mentioned in the recent "Rockstar spouse" letter.

"Red Dead [Redemption] has been in production for six years (mainly because of horrible management/lack of direction due to fear of disrespecting Rockstar NY) and it will never get the money back in sales it cost to create for those six years," claimed another source.

We asked Wedbush Morgan's Michael Pachter to estimate how many copies he thinks Red Dead Redemption needs to sell to make back its development costs and, more importantly for Take-Two, to be profitable. "I'd say realistically, if everybody [at Rockstar San Diego] was working on it this whole time -- so let's assume it's four years to be fair [Red Dead Revolver was released in March 2004], that's $40 million (about $10 million a year to run the studio) -- to make that back and just break even you need at least $80 million in sales; 1.75 million units. For profit: $160 million/3.5 million units."

Pachter added that "it's got a shot" and that, from what he's seen of the game, "it looks phenomenal." Our sources are less hopeful, unfortunately: "The functional team that was Midnight Club was shattered. All the people who didn't quit or get fired were thrown onto Red Dead Redemption, many of them being demoted. The completely disfunctional team that is RDR was put to top priority. The people who had floundered on that project or outright screwed it up were promoted and are now in complete control of the studio, and they're running it into the ground." We'll have to see when the game arrives in stores this April -- if it does.

We contacted Rockstar for comment on this story and have yet to hear back as of publishing.

Update: We were contacted regarding this story by one Rockstar source, who told us: "It will take 5 million 4 million sales at full price to recoup the development costs of Red Dead. The good news is they [Rockstar] are not expecting to make money with Red Dead Redemption. At this point, that project is just supposed to prove that the San Diego studio can make a great quality AAA title." If you'd like to contact us regarding this or other stories surrounding the "Rockstar spouse" letter, we'd love to hear from you.