So when the hell did this happen? I feel like I turned my back for one moment and thirteen publishers tried to put lipstick on one of their big 2013 titles and tell me it’s a new release.
They can’t think we’re all quite that moronic, which leads me to an inexorable conclusion – they actually believe it IS a new release. Or, at the very least, they believe that we believe it is.
So then I have to ask, is it?
No. No it’s not.
I could wax philosophical at this point; stick a Swiss flag up my bunghole and give some kind of an objective overview of both sides of the story here, but frankly I don’t want to.
This entire parade of plumped, fluffed and enhanced AAA titles can walk itself right into a New Mexico landfill – as can anyone dumb enough to pay full price for a game they already bought and played a year ago.
There are many reasons I hate this, but let me discuss some of the biggest:
A New Console Is Not A Reason For A Re-Release
This is the justification given mostly, and it makes absolutely zero sense to me.
The last couple of years have seen a bevy of console games which never made it to the PC, but somehow there is room in the budget to port those games across to the exact same audience.
Some fancier hardware does not warrant a re-release of a game that’s a year old. We’re not talking major leaps and bounds here either; it’s like cranking your graphics detail from medium to high and turning on anti-aliasing.
Hey Crytek is struggling at the moment, maybe they should re-release Crysis, as is, since now people’s computers can actually run it on high settings without killing the family pet with an exploding GPU.
It’s bad enough that roughly half of the AAA titles we get every year are sequels, expansions or other play-it-safe moneymakers that check their originality at the door, but now we have to deal with a market flooded with games we may literally still be playing right now.
If you want to show off what the new consoles can do, why don’t you make a NEW GAME to do that?
It’s An Obvious Money-Grab
Oh, that’s why. Because new games are risky and cost money, old games with a fresh tan and a boobjob are much cheaper and much safer.
The sickest thing for me is that they’re probably going to sell loads of the damned things. What’s even worse is that there is probably a large contingent of people who have the old game who are also going to buy the new one.
If you’re one of those people, I hope you at least ask Naughty Dog to buy you a drink before you let them f**k you.
Remasters Should Be Reserved For The Classics
I think of a remaster as something that’s trying to update something that needs to be experienced. This works particularly well for games, as they age quickly and awfully, and the low-tech look and feel is often a turn-off to newcomers.
This doesn’t mean that we need a hardware-accelerated version of Big Rigs or Superman 64, however. Some things are best left forgotten.
For me, the purpose of a remaster such as Black Mesa (the unbelievably excellent Half-Life 1 makeover by an independent team) is to allow those who didn’t grow up with it to experience and appreciate it for what it is. If you don’t have that nostalgia attached to it, it can be hard to look past the shoddy graphics and outdated engine.
Or, for those of us who have played and loved the game, to re-experience it again in a different way, to fall in love with it all over again.
The Last Of Us is a great game, it may even one day be remembered as a classic, but it sure as shit isn’t at nostalgia level yet. It’s hard to feel nostalgic about a game that still has its poster plastered inside gameshop windows, where lazy employees who haven’t taken them down yet are now hoping to recycle it for the Remastered Edition.
They Should Probably Be Free
Obviously you couldn’t have something like The Last Of Us going for free, but The Last OF Us Remastered shouldn’t even exist so it’s kind of a moot point.
What I’m trying to get at here, is that these remasters should really be passion projects. As I said previously, they shouldn’t be about trying to squeeze another round of cash out of an old game, they should be about taking a piece of art and making it accessible to a modern audience.
Most of the time this happens because they’re made by a group of dedicated fans, but wouldn’t it be great to see developers do this as well?
I honestly have no idea how much it would cost to overhaul an old-school classic like Duke 3D or Monkey Island or something and just release it as a free download, but when I look at the marketing budgets for games like Destiny or Call of Duty I somehow feel like there’s space for it.
Perhaps an idealist, or an optimist, or I’m just a jaded fool who doesn’t understand this industry or what people actually want. Maybe you’re all chomping at the bit for some of these Remasters, and I’m not going to tell you what to do with your own money.
Hell, maybe if I was rich I’d also like setting fire to big piles of it. My issue is more with the uncomfortable feeling it gives me. I know it’s very in right now to say the games industry is a money-hungry corporate juggernaut that doesn’t give a toss about anything other than the bottom-line, but I don’t think that’s entirely true.
I think in a lot of ways we’ve created the monster, and the industry is only like that because it has to be. Companies have been forced into a situation where taking risks are not rewarded, and playing it safe with annualised, franchised releases is.
We’ve seen companies like THQ crash and burn after a couple of games that didn’t meet sales expectations, and that’s the reality. When you have to spend a hundred million plus on a game to make it meet our standards, a couple of commercial flops can sink you. So instead, we get a lot of tiptoeing and a lot of easy moneymakers year after year.
I want new, exciting and original games, and this wave of remasters is just showing me exactly why I can’t have that.