In defense of video game rereleases

Monday, 14 July 2014 11:00 AM Written by 

 

We are in the year of the remake. Whether a game is dubbed a remake, remastered, collection, HD or Electric Boogaloo, this onslaught of revisited games cannot be ignored. Games like “Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition,” and “Resident Evil 4: HD” are just the beginning. The heavy hitters are coming later this year to next gen platforms like “Grand Theft Auto V,” “The Last of Us: Remastered” and “Halo: Master Chief Collection.”

So what gives? Why is 2014 like the Friday after Thanksgiving, where the leftovers are still good, but something is lost the second time around? Most of the thanks or blame can be targeted toward the new consoles in the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The tech within the Xbox 360 and PS3 were being pushed to their limits last year, but those consoles were the only option other than PC. It makes good business sense to release better looking versions of old games on the new, more powerful consoles.

 

Rereleases at a glance in 2014

Here's a quick look at the rereleases that are already out, and have yet to come, in 2014.

 

 

The Last of Us timeline

GTA V timeline

Guacamelee timeline

Tomb Raider Timeline

Halo Collection timeline

Metro Timeline

Final Fantasy Timeline

Diablo Timeline

Street Fighter Timeline

Resident Evil 4 timeline

Pokemon Timeline
(cover art source: wikipedia.org)

Xbox One and PS4 are only freshmen

These rehashes do more than just pull in more money to the publishers. They help distract from the unavoidable growing pains that new consoles go through. The first two years of a console’s lifespan are like freshman year in high school. They’re seeking an identity while the Xbox 360 and PS3 (the senior class) have been acclimated for years. The XB1 and PS4 are the new kids on the block trying to get noticed, failing to make the varsity squad and sitting at the lame table during lunch.

The 360 and PS3 have their user base cemented while the newcomers have to play catch-up; a process that will take years. It’s smarter for publishers to make new games for the old consoles because there’s a better chance to sell more copies. A larger install base means more potential buyers. This is why the Wii U has such lousy support from third party developers. There aren’t enough Wii U consoles in homes to warrant the spending of production costs.

An easy way to combat these growing pains is release old games with shiny new textures and a faster frame rate. Because why wouldn’t you? Trust me; if I could profit by republishing old articles with a slick font and higher res images, you’d better believe you’d be seeing a “Super Mario Galaxy review: remastered edition.”

 

Consider a world without re-releases

The easy and nearly automatic reaction to seeing old stuff repackaged is understandably annoyance. We paid good money for this new tech with its RAM and “blast processing,” and whatnot. We want to see new games for it. New is good. If you’re annoyed by remakes, I get it. But consider the alternative. Consider no remakes and the same new games. If that would be the case, the PS4 and Xbox One would collectively have “Infamous: Second Son,” “Titanfall” and a couple downloadable titles representing the exclusive post-launch lineups. The first seven months of 2014 would’ve been a real bummer for new console owners. I hope you love aimlessly browsing a system menu or successfully changing your TV channel after shouting “watch ESPN” repetedly, because that’s all these systems would be good for.

A game has to be good to receive the re-release treatment. These aren’t remakes of 2010’s “Naughty Bear.” This is “The Last of Us,” winner of over 200 Game-of-the-Year awards, “Grand Theft Auto V” seller of more than 33 million copies and the “Halo” series, one of the most influential series of all time. I’m overjoyed at the prospect of revisiting these modern classics.

This is a chance for more people to experience the best games in the medium. It’s safe to assume that there are some people who didn’t have a PS3 who bought a PS4. Now someone has the opportunity to play “The Last of Us” for the first time. I’ll finally be able to play its DLC “Left Behind” because my PS3 died before it was released (2007-2013 – Gone but not forgotten. With its last breath, it spewed some crappy dialog from “Beyond: Two Souls.” It deserved better.).

 

Graphics matter, despite what you think

Releasing old games on the new platforms creates the opportunity to flex the added hardware power. If you think that people don't care about graphics, you would be wrong. Here’s a chart via Google Trends that shows the internet’s interest in the topic of “1080p 60 fps.” Of course some of these people are just looking for information on the topic, but the interest is clearly there. The topic reached it’s all time peak in November of 2013, which is the month the Xbox One and PS4 were released. It nearly hit that mark again just last month in June.

 60FPS graph-2

 

Should rereleases be game-of-the-year candidates?

Rereleases spark an interesting discussion within the video game community. Should rereleased games receive Game-of-the-Year consideration during year when the new version is released? “The Last of Us” is regarded by many to be the best PS3 game of all time. Should the upcoming remastered version be considered the best PS4 game of all time? It is technically a new game for the PS4, but it’s also technically a game from 2013. I recently reviewed “Guacamelee: Super Turbo Championship Edition,” and I thought it was the best game I’ve played this year. Does it have enough new content for it to be considered a new game, when it’s more of a “1.5” version of 2013’s original “Guacamelee”? I see both sides of the argument, and I’m not sure what to decide. With so many old classics being revisited this year, it will be interesting to see where critics stand at the end of the year.

Award consideration aside, we should be happy to play these games for a second or more time. Games are meant to be fun at a base level, whether that means inherently pleasing, emotionally touching or satisfyingly challenging. All of the remakes fall into one or more categories of enjoyment. That’s why they were popular in the first place. If the first two years of the Xbox One and PS4 transform them into machines for the golden oldies, I’ll gladly put down my Reader’s Digest, pull up my rocking chair and try to relive the good old days.  

 

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