The game industry has a particularly interesting relationship with remakes and remasters. Many of our favorite games are getting the remaster treatment only a year or two after their release. This is usually because older games are seeking to make the step up to new hardware, PS3 and Xbox 360 games releasing for the PS4 and Xbox One, for example.
On one hand, there is nothing particularly wrong with updating a game for a new platform, but on the other hand, things are getting a little out of hand. Square’s remake of Final Fantasy X , for example, was remade for the PS3 and then re-remade for the PS4 only a few years later. That’s a meta remake!
When Sony commented about its remake of The Last of Us for the PS4, it talked about exposing an audience to The Last of Us that missed it the first time around. But The Last of Us was only made two years before the remake came out. So Sony was, essentially, alluding to the fact that a two year lifespan is too much to ask for one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed games of all time.
Which brings me to the first reason why remakes should be scaled back a bit: they are reducing our attention span. Games are already being treated as flavors of the week. Even popular shooters like Titanfall end up seriously reducing their multiplayer population to a fraction of what it used to be in only 6 months after their release, which is usually when a new shooter comes to take its place, and these are games that are built upon replayability using their online multiplayer components. If these games cannot survive for a mere six months, what hopes do single player games have? While our huge blockbusters used to be played for years, now they hold our interest for only a few months, and remakes are kind of a way to remind us they exist. It would be better if we learned to enjoy the games that already came out.
Heck, if remasters keep being created, it’s almost foolish to buy a game the first time out because the remaster will inevitably be better. Which brings me to the second reason why remasters need to be scaled back: they punish early adopters. Remasters tend to have better graphics, more content, and usually all of the DLC that came out for the original version. This means you can pick up a remaster and get for $40 what other people payed $80 to $100 for. But it’s not remaster sales that keep game franchises alive, rather, it’s first-week sales. In fact, it’s usually these sales that even allow remakes to be made.
Finally, remasters simply let game companies rest on their laurels, which is rather discouraging in an environment which already minimizes innovation. Do you know what I saw at Capcom’s booth at E3 last year? Ultra Street Fighter IV , a remake/patch, Dead Rising 3 PC Edition, a remake/port, and Ace Attorney Trilogy , a remake/generation upgrade. They had more remakes to show than actual new games, at the show whose entire purpose is to let companies show off their new games!
So what do you think? Should we be making fewer remakes? Are remakes damaging our industry? Let us know in the comments.