A number of smaller, independent game stores across the US have said that they will not be able to sell Red Dead Redemption 2 on its launch day of October 26. Some may not even have it until over a week after release.
Kotaku reports that these mom-and-pop game stores have been told by their distributors that they'll miss the first week of sales. Included among those missing out is lead game rental service GameFly, who told its customers in an email, "Our supplier has indicated that we will not receive the game prior to its release date. 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."
Per Kotaku's report, the store owners they spoke to said distributors had cited supply issues as the reason for the delay on copies of the game. Others said that such a delay had never happened before, even for other highly-anticipated releases.
GamesIndustry.biz has also reached out to a number of small to mid-sized outlets for comment on the issue. Though everyone who replied confirmed there were distribution issues, they did not agree on the details.
One mid-sized store with locations in only a few midwestern cities confirmed that it would receive copies for launch day, but that its distributor said other smaller outlets might not.
A northern US independent store owner who confirmed they would not receive the game in time shared an email received from their distributor that suggested Rockstar was at the heart of the trouble. The email indicates Rockstar has not approved distributors to receive Red Dead Redemption 2 ahead of launch, but was instead shipping to direct retail partners. Only certain select, indirect retail accounts that had submitted marketing plans that were "more robust" than usual were approved to receive copies for release day. The email concluded by saying the distributor expected to have the game by November 5th or 6th.
Another small, family-owned outlet in the northeastern US described having promoted the game since its announcement with posters, displays, print ads, and even a $3300 billboard. The store currently has nearly 200 pre-orders for the game, but has been told it may not have them available for launch as there "aren't enough units" available. As a result, he says they are considering purchasing retail copies and selling at a loss just to ensure their customers are satisfied.
"A week may not seem like much, but most of our new game sales occur within the first week of release; following that, they decline drastically, as I'm sure they do industry-wide," one of the store owners told us. "This distribution embargo will rob us of the most critical sales period for the biggest release of the season.
"Yes, we have some loyal customers who might be willing to wait for the game, but how many people will just go down the road to GameStop or Wal-Mart instead? We've spent the last 12 years building our customer base and earning our community's trust, but when we can't get a major game on release day, or when GameStop releases a game early and we're still bound by street dates (as in the case of Black Ops 4 last week), that eats away at the confidence they have in us."
GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to Rockstar for comment.