After one bad launch for Red Dead Redemption 2 with its PC debut on Rockstar and Epic's stores in November, I had thought Rockstar might make the most of the second chance for a smooth launch presented by its belated Steam release last night. They have not. Along with the crashing and performance issues still suffered by all players, the Steam release seems to have even developed new issues. It's also more clear quite how common the old issues are, now the game is on a store which has user reviews. Oh dear.
Like Grand Theft Auto V, RDR2 on Steam runs Rockstar's own Games Launcher as a vital step of the launch process. The Steam release brings a new Rockstar Games Launcher problem caused by having previously linked your Steam account to a Rockstar Social Club account you no longer have access to. The game will be attached to that Rockstar account, not letting you play if you can't log into it, and god help you if you trip a security lockdown while trying to remember a years-old password.
Player reviews on Steam also complain about other crashes, Launcher screw-ups (apparently unplugging your controller before launching then replugging after launch helps?), performance issues, bugs, and disconnections from Red Dead Online. The game suffers these problems with the Epic Games Store and Rockstar Games Launcher releases too--they're not specific to Steam--though it has become more obvious how common they are now the game is on a store with user reviews. Reports from people who choose to write Steam reviews aren't the complete picture, of course, but it's a wider view than looking at complaints on Reddit.
It's a shame that, for many, all this is spoiling what is really quite an impressive game. Our Matthew's Red Dead Redemption 2 PC review called it "the definitive version of the definitive Rockstar game, warts and all." If you can run it but could use a few more frames, Katharine's performance guide might help.
Maybe Rockstar can go for a GOG release next, have another crack at a good launch. Then Itch if that doesn't work out. Then Origin. Game Jolt. Uplay. Battle.net. GamersGate. Ninth time's a charm?
Disclosure: As a resident of Edinburgh, I can't help but know people who work at Rockstar. At times I've known folks for month before discovering they work there. Rockstar supposedly employ 600-odd people in the city but the real number has to be closer to 60,000.