Red Dead Redemption 2
Image: Rockstar

In the lead-up to Red Dead Redemption 2’s October 26 release, Zach Gieg spent over $3,300 adorning his small, local chain of Pennsylvania video game stores with billboards, flyers, posters, and other displays touting the the highly-anticipated Western adventure game that his customers began preordering two years ago. It was at the store’s own expense, but Gieg figured that the advertising dollars would surely convert to sales of the upcoming game. But a couple of weeks ago, Gieg says, his distributor had some bad news: he wouldn’t be getting the game on time for its release. Across the country, other local game stores were hearing the same thing.

According to local game stores and distributors interviewed by Kotaku, mom-and-pop gaming outlets may not be receiving the most anticipated game of the year on October 26, the day of its release. To get in on the hype, these customers will likely download the game on their PlayStation 4 or Xbox One—or pick it up from retailers like GameStop or Best Buy, which will be receiving the game on time. While a few stores have said that they might be able to get Xbox One copies on time, in general, local stores will be cut out of the first week of Red Dead Redemption 2 sales, which will choke their earnings for the game.

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“I’m telling you: Gamers don’t like to wait,” Gieg told me over the phone. “We have a very loyal customer base, per se, but I don’t think I’d want to wait for a week. It’s ridiculous. They’re gonna download it or go elsewhere and buy it at a big box retailer.”

Between Gieg’s four stores, he predicts his customers would have purchased more than 1,000 copies, he said. That’s potentially $60,000 in lost sales.

Even GameFly, the top game rental service, won’t be getting the game on time. “Our supplier has indicated that we will not receive the game prior to its release date,” it wrote in an email to customers this morning. “At this time, we do not expect to ship PS4 discs before Wednesday, November 7th. We understand Red Dead Redemption 2 is a very popular game and apologize for this delay.”

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Neither Rockstar nor its parent company Take-Two Interactive have responded to Kotaku’s requests for comment.

Local game retailers interviewed by Kotaku aren’t sure why this is happening. Several say they were told by distributors that there was an issue with supply. Two distributors confirmed this to Kotaku. Yet some store owners are skeptical, with two longtime owners saying that nothing like this has ever happened before, even for the biggest games. Daniel Mastin, who runs Video Games New York, thinks there may be some fear around local stores breaking street date. “They want a distribution chain they control,” Mastin theorized.

Derek Holland, who manages a game store in Colorado, isn’t so sure that’s the reason. Five days to a week is a long time to be controlling for leaks, he said. “I think if they were worried about street date they could get it to us the 26th,” he told me. He does think it could possibly be a supply issue considering rumors he read about on IGN that the game’s physical copy is printed on two discs, not one. That’s a lot of discs to print.

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Holland isn’t so sympathetic, though, to Take-Two’s plight. To compete with stores like GameStop that offer pre-order bonuses, he commissioned a local artist to draw up designs for custom Red Dead Redemption 2 T-shirts. A game store with no new game and a stack of handmade T-shirts is a sad thought, but thankfully, Holland thinks some of his customers might be okay with waiting. “We have some pretty great customers,” he said. “We’ve reached out to everybody who preordered the game and told them the deal. A lot of them have been fine waiting the extra week to support our business and help us out.”