It used to be that when a developer annouced an updated version of a game complete with better visuals and maybe even a few bonuses, most applauded the idea. Yet now, these kinds of announcements are followed up with a split of approval and criticism. Let’s look at where it all started and how such a change in opinions took place in our fast-growing industry.
When Did This All Start?
Games have been seeing re-releasing and ports for almost as long as the industry has existed. An example of this is the original 1981 Donkey Kong game that started in arcades and has appeared on many systems since.
However, here we’re talking specifically about games that are being re-released to simply have “better visuals and sound” rather than updated game play.
One of the first HD remakes to be seen was Rockstar Games’ Bully, which was originally released on PS2 in 2006. It was then released two years later as Bully: Scholarship Edition on Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo Wii. Despite its fair share of bugs and glitches, most welcomed the chance to replay a good game on their newest systems.
Not long after that, we started seeing a ton of HD remakes make their way to stores. A few of the many praised re-releases we have seen in recent years have been God of War Collection, ICO/Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Beyond Good & Evil HD, Devil May Cry Collection, GoldenEye 007: Reloaded, Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.
Everyone was enjoying their chance to play their favorite games from past consoles in HD.
When Did It All Change?
Eager to profit from their past endeavors in a high development cost industry, it was no surprise that eventually we started seeing developers and publishers giving us too many remakes.
By simply taking a peek at Wikipedia’s “List of video game remakes,” you will see the incredible number of titles that have been re-released with visual improvements.
Interestingly enough, no one (we hope) is actually angry that a title is receiving an HD remake. What has started bothering most gamers is the inevitable feeling that developers are focusing on remaking old games instead of working on new ones.
Many publishers have even used HD remakes as a promotional tool by releasing collections of a series that is about to have a reboot; the Devil May Cry Collection was released only nine months before the new Devil May Cry game, for instance.
Do most people downright hate HD remakes? Of course not. What many dislike is the fact that we’re seeing too many remakes when instead we could be receiving completely new titles.
Remakes and Collections Today
It’s no secret that the graphical advancement between the PS4 and Xbox One and their respective predecessors isn’t as significant as we’ve seen before.
Going from Playstation and N64 to PS2 and Gamecube was breathtaking, and even more so with the leap to HD consoles. There’s still a noticeable improvement, but most would argue we’ve reached somewhat of a plateau in visual progress with today’s newest consoles (whether it be due to costs, technological limitations, etc.).
Perhaps for this reason the PS4 and Xbox One have only caused further division as we see remakes of games that were already in HD when originally released two-three years prior (sometimes even less). Take The Last of Us for example; a game that was released in June of 2013 and saw a PS4 re-release just a year and one month later.
Most were ecstatic at the idea of playing their favorite game of last year on their shiny new console, especially during the inevitable drought of releases a new console experiences in their first year. However, many were also left scratching their head and wondering “Why should I buy the same game I just played a year ago? It’s not like the graphics are THAT much better!”
The Future of Remakes
There’s no question that remakes and collections will continue to be released as long as publishers see an opportunity to make more cash with games they’ve already spent a small fortune to make.
Whether you’re in love with the idea of remakes or not, we can all agree that developers should still focus most of their time and effort on new experiences that will blow us away and keep this industry fresh, growing, and fun.
An over-saturation of HD remakes and collections won’t kill the industry, but it may hurt if they’re all we have to look forward to.