We are well into the first half of 2018 and given a year or two, will be looking into a new console generation. Competition between Intel and AMD to produce the fastest processor with the highest amount of cores will no doubt play into that, and games will be created even bigger than they are now. Still, that doesn’t stop the gaming industry from cranking out remasters of older games year after year and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. I like that roughly in the recent year, publishers focused on bringing titles from a generation or a few ago rather than titles from 2010s before the Xbox One and PS4 came out. This is generally because they’ve already exhausted the catalogue of games produced in the period of 2010-2015 and don’t have much elsewhere to go beyond that. With fairly recent Dark Souls Remastered and Far Cry 3: Classic Edition popping up for release, however, the gaming industry isn’t quite done with remasters just yet.
I love the idea of preserving classic games, as well as introducing many excellent titles from previous generation to new players, but the industry has pushed the whole concept through so many grinders that it is getting redundant. Instead of focusing efforts into new games, studios go back to existing ideas and re-release them with updated graphics and polish. Sure there are many games that deserve that, but in many cases, those games hardly needed a remaster in the first place.
Out of the three major gaming systems, two also make a case for the fact they don’t really require them. Xbox One features a robust list of backward-compatible titles that can be enjoyed at higher resolutions and framerate already, especially if you own the upgraded X console. PC platform meanwhile has long been the benchmark for visually spectacular games, with most titles from early 2010s still holding up well. In that event, many remasters for current consoles are generally straight PC ports, such as the Far Cry 3 Classic Edition. That game is still a looker on the PC platform, so naturally Ubisoft simply brought it over to other systems for an “updated experience”, which isn’t really that remastered. It undoubtedly looks much better than PS3/Xbox 360 versions, but many reviews have confirmed it to be a straight up PC port.
One of the worst offenders among remastered games I consider to be Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition, which didn’t need exactly need a re-release on PC in the first place. To insult players, the publisher Epic decided to pull the original release off Steam completely, replacing it with the Full Clip edition. It wouldn’t be a bad practice in itself, except whoever wanted to check the game out at that point had to pay the full $60. Paying full price for a game that’s been out for quite some time is outrageous, and many game remasters throughout the industry have followed in the same idea. A visual update is absolutely not worth paying full retail price for, unless it is offered in the bundle of a few games or all DLC for example. The gaming industry of course wouldn’t be on board with charging lower prices for their re-releases, and while it doesn’t go for many game publishers, some are very guilty of being greedy.
A far better case for remasters is made when a much older game is updated to run on modern systems and support features we’ve come to expect in gaming at this point. Furthermore, depending on a specific title, it often serves as preservation of the game that can no longer be obtained on disk even through second-hand markets. Retaining such content, whether a game had a cult following or a smaller audience is crucial in introducing future generations of gamers to some of the old classics. Among such remasters, many come to mind that have been excellently re-released, and while gameplay doesn’t tend to age quite as well in many cases as the concepts we are well used to by now. Still, there are many to make a good case for: the Homeworld Remastered Collection, Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, Grim Fandango, StarCraft, Burnout Paradise, and quite a few others.
Approaching a new console generation, it is worrying that the games industry is still pent up on releasing remastered editions of many popular titles, as well as ones that don’t get so much attention. Considering it continues to happen, however, we could as well see a new console cycle bring on a new wave of remasters nobody was exactly asking for. I get the point of updating many games to introduce new players to them, especially those who start off with the newest generation. At other times, it simply feels like a cash grab to force players into forking out additional money. Where the focus should be on creating bigger worlds full of interesting characters, the game’s industry tends to still be focusing on remastering the endless back catalogue of games console generations created.
There is still a large catalogue of games I would like to see re-released, albeit due to many’s age they would ideally have to be remakes at this point. At the same time, I also want to see the gaming industry take focus on developing better quality titles, and diversify their output. Large publishers have seen success in smaller games like Life is Strange, Unravel and Valiant Hearts, meaning they could give us little projects alongside their triple-A output. It is about time to be done with remasters and focus on new things to keep the gaming market fresh and exciting.