Remastering turns stale


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“We won’t even start [a game] if we don’t think we can build a franchise out of it,” said Ubisoft’s Vice President of Marketing Tony Key a few years ago, describing a time when sequels to safe, proven concepts were the majority of what the mainstream industry released. 

Now, that trend has been replaced by something even worse: the re-release.

This was first brought to my attention when I downloaded 2K’s Borderlands: The Prequel for the Xbox 360 only to find several days later that the game was being rereleased alongside Borderlands 2 as Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. 

This isn’t the only example of a growing trend. Saints Row 4: Re-elected, a remastering of Saints Row 4, released only two years ago, came out in January. Additionally, The Last Of Us seemed to have had its remastering announced almost as soon as it launched. These two are just a few of the long list of last titles being re-released for the new consoles.

Remasterings are not inherently a bad thing. Many classic and iconic games of the last 10 years have been revamped, such as the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which featured stellar improvements to Halo 2. But this latest series of re-releases don’t fit into that category. Instead, they are games that were released in the last two years — the tail end of the 360/PlayStation 3/Wii era — and ones many have played relatively recently. 

Why is this not a good thing? Because it means game developers are trying to sell you games that you bought instead of producing an original game. It’s an update to the idea of releasing sequels, going with a safe option that has proven to work. 

Are the re-released games being improved? Yes, marginally. The graphics look nicer but mostly in ways only obvious with a side-by-side comparison. Most of the time, it includes all of the downloadable content that was released for the original as well, making it a slightly more attractive deal. But is that really worth handing over another $60?

Remasterings are made for a specific audience: one that liked the original game. However, most people who liked the game are assumed to have purchased it the first time it was released, so they being are asked to buy it again. For everyone else who didn’t care enough to purchase the game, they probably won’t the second time, either. 

This lazy trend was only made possible through the existence of consoles that lacked backwards compatibility, and now we have developers trying to squeeze a few more dollars out of last year’s ideas instead of putting forth something worthwhile.

Remastering is not a terrible concept; I just urge gamers to be careful before they purchase these latest ones.

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