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Are gaming remasters really necessary?

As some of you have undoubtedly seen, Uncharted and Gears of War have made gaming news as these franchises are being remastered for new consoles. This is happening while gamers await new entries of these franchises. These games are following a line which includes GTA V, The Last of Us, Halo as well as many other games that companies are making while squeezing a profit from gamers.

In my opinion, remastering games in some ways are almost like trying to reboot or redoing movies. For some, you are taking a classic and giving it a surface makeover. In the process of doing that, some companies have thrown on full price or near full price tags on these games and sometimes if we love it enough, we bite. The questions we as consumers need to ask is, in some of these cases, is it really worth it for us to pay the price (which for some companies justifies them enough to keep redoing) and are we getting a quality game for what we are paying for?   It’s a tricky question based upon the love we have for the game in question not to mention what’s being added into these remasters.

Now, as I mentioned a moment ago, some game remasters are almost like movie remakes. It’s taking a concept which we became familiar with years ago and updating it. That’s at least the broad concept. It’s when you start digging into the nuances that we start to see the divergence. When it comes to movies of course, the way a particular story is told may be changed, of course actors will be changed and even the setting.   A better analogy for some games in many cases, is taking your favorite movies from decades ago and sharpening up the image for HD transfers and in some cases ‘re-colorizing’ them.

But why are there more remastered games appearing at the dawn of this generation than there has at any other time?   When new consoles appeared, it usually signaled the start of new IPs or the continuation of classic franchises. Sadly, when you look at some of the games that were supposed to push the PS4 and Xbox One, they have underperformed. Ryse, while a great idea for a period game that has rarely been touched on consoles underperformed. By most accounts, The Order: 1886 was a failure and Watchdogs, for all of the hype, did not do well in a category that the remaster of GTA V dominates in now. Another idea one must consider is the fact that since new systems aren’t backwards compatible, sometimes one way to benefit from older games is to spruce them up for the new systems.

So, has gaming gone the way of Hollywood in that, instead of companies taking risks with new IPs, we are being fed a bunch of rehashed and reskinned games? Biggest question is, are gaming companies getting lazy? I don’t think so, in fact I still believe that it’s too early to write off new IPs as there will be a few announced at the upcoming E3 event, most of which are being announced right alongside some high profile remasters. However, there is still some concern that while we wait to see a new Gears of War or Uncharted game, their rehashed versions will probably be out before we see new ones. We know new IPs can be expensive to make but if Destiny, Bloodborne and Shadows of Mordor taught us anything it’s that there are still companies willing to take chances with new properties.

Switching gears a bit, while I don’t exactly mind companies giving certain games the remastering treatment, in my mind, whether or not I decide to purchase it depend on a few factors. One is of course how much did I like the original and with the updated version be worth it. 2 games that come to mind are GTA V and Tomb Raider. Both games looked great on last gen systems, the graphic boost that both received brought out the best in the games despite the idea that they were pretty much the exact same game that we have already played. GTA V went through a lot of extra work so that it was more than a console port and is one of the very few games that so far have come out well. Second of course is price plus additional content. Now while I am not a Halo fan, I do recognize that for what gamers spent last year for the Halo Master Chief Collection in some ways could be categorized as a steal. Halo fans got 5 games, plus the option to use the updated graphics engine or not and the ability to play online. However depending on who you talked to, some players felt that some of the games within the MCC were surprisingly dated than others. Bottom line, if you are going to charge consumers full price at least add some stuff in. Extra games, DLC, online modes etc. Give me a reason why I should allow you to fleece me for a game I already played!

Before I wrap up, I would like to mention a few games that I would like to see remastered with a brief explanation as to why:

Assassins Creed – Despite the fact that we are now seeing yearly iterations of this franchise, this game and the time period it was set in, I think could use an update. It would also be nice to see a few new movesets from later games make it into the original.

Red Dead Redemption – Mostly the same reasons as I feel like we are still years away from a true sequel. It’s one of the few games I still fire up on the 360 from time to time. Even thought it’s show its age a bit, it’s still one of the best games of last generation.

The Witcher One and Two – Part 3 of this franchise released last week and the biggest complaint I hear from many of my gaming friends is that they didn’t play the first 2 so how can they play this one? While I think that 3 is easy enough to understand, it stands to note that tie first one was PC only and had very clunky controls. The 2nd one did come on consoles (as a 360 exclusive) but now it’s in that hard to find phase and will run you almost 40 bucks on Amazon. So, why not come out with a bundle so gamers can get caught up on all of Geralt’s adventures from start to finish?

These are just some of my thoughts on remastered games. As with anything else, if you aren’t onboard with the idea, you aren’t being forced to buy them. Save them on some of the new IPs that are coming as I am sure that they will be plentiful. It doesn’t hurt however to see some older franchises get that shiny new coat of paint that makes us want to go back and remember why we fell in love with it in the first place. Remasters fill in some of the middle ground that AAA would fill, they aren’t as expensive at times and some get more that just a new coat of paint. Most of all, the sales numbers justfy that there is a market out there for them.   I think as long as companies don’t get lazy and rely on remasters to push sales while coming up with new IPs for the modern consoles, there i will be a fine balance that allows these games to exist.   It’s the same reason why some of us are dipping in the well for movies that we owned (or still own) on VHS, DVD, Blu Ray and now want the digital.

What are your thoughts about game remastering? Leave them below.


by Aitch Cee

About Armand (1270 Articles)
Armand is a husband, father, and life long comics fan. A devoted fan of Batman and the Valiant Universe he loves writing for PCU, when he's not running his mouth on the PCU podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @armandmhill

3 Comments on Are gaming remasters really necessary?

  1. Great, well written article. This is part of why I haven’t bought a current gen console yet. I haven’t been wowed by a lot. I’m not opposed to remasters, though I think it made more sense in the previous generation, going from SD to HD. Let’s hope E3 brings us something decent.


  2. Prof.mcstevie // May 28, 2015 at 6:10 pm //

    Remasters are necessary as long as no company outside of Nintendo is really TRYING for backwards compatibility without a price tag on a digital store for a rom from a different country. Seriously I can’t get a stable frame rate on classic PS1 games when you give me the NA rom on a PAL console…you tarts.


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