Over the years, a number of video games have been remade or remastered. Demon’s Souls, Final Fantasy VII, Mass Effect, and Alan Wake are just some of those games that have been spruced up for gamers to play anew and even more titles are on the way. Fear Effect, Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and Blade Runner, are just a few of those titles from gaming’s past that are about to be given a new lease of life.
But what do you think about this? Are video game remakes and remasters a good thing? Or are they just cynical cash grabs for game studios?
On the one hand, there is nothing wrong with an older video game title being remade or remastered. The opportunity to play a modern successor to an older game, with spruced-up graphics (and potential new gameplay elements) can be a welcoming one. After all, many of us get nostalgic and teary-eyed about the games from our past. And especially in situations where they have become hard to come by, an updated version can be seen as a good thing.
When games are remade, people new to gaming can also get their hands on titles that they missed out on when they were younger. We are thinking of Mafia, the original Tomb Raider, and Spyro the Dragon, as just as three of the games that have seen updated versions years after they were originally made. Gamers who were too young to have a console or PC when they were originally released have been given the opportunity to play and enjoy these games.
And those who missed out on certain consoles can now play games that they weren’t able to play in the past. Alan Wake is one recent example, as this previously exclusive Xbox title can now be played on Sony’s consoles. The aforementioned Spyro the Dragon is another example, as this previous Playstation exclusive (and its subsequent sequels), can now be played on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
In such instances, the fact that older video games have been given a new lease of life can be seen as a positive.
And there is hope among some gamers that games that haven’t yet been remade will also be given a similar treatment. After the success of the Final Fantasy VII remake, it is hoped that other entries from that series will get shiny new versions.
And with a new God of War on its way, some gamers are hoping to see the earlier adventures of Kratos on their current-gen consoles. Seeing him battle legendary land and sea creatures with the immense graphical power that new machines can pump out would certainly be a sight to behold.
It would be wrong to dismiss the benefits that video game remakes can provide. However, it’s important to look at the reason why they could also be considered a bad thing.
For one thing, we need to question the intention of game developers and publishers. If their intention is to reward gamers with a vastly improved version of an older title, then this can be seen as a positive
But what about those titles that aren’t radically different from their previous iterations? And what about those titles that could be considered worse?
The recent remake of the cel-shaded action game XIII was critically panned and there has been a lot of grumbling about the recent Grand Theft Auto remasters. Despite the success of the Resident Evil 2 remake, there was also disappointment when the Resident Evil 3 remake was released. While graphically quite nice, certain sections and gameplay mechanics from the earlier version were removed or drastically altered.
If these titles haven’t improved to the level that we expect from games today, we have to ask ourselves this question: What is the point?
Of course, the point might be to generate income for publishers and developers who are relying on the nostalgia of gamers. They know gamers want to play popular older games again so they push them out with a fresh coat of graphical paint to rake in more cash. This can be excused when the game is good but in the case of the aforementioned titles, we should be worried when there are no new benefits to gamers who have played them before.
Another problem with remakes and remasters is that they stop developers from creating brand new, original titles. The same is also true of sequels or the yearly FIFA updates that EA churns out annually.
As gamers, many of us want to play something we have never experienced, with new stories, characters, and gameplay mechanics. Opportunities become limited when developers decide to rehash what was done before. Thankfully, there have been a few original game titles over the last couple of years, with Dreams, Ghost of Tsushima, and (for better or worse) Cyberpunk 2077, being among them. Many indie studios have also released titles that push the boundaries of gaming a little. However, original releases from major studios are often in the minority and this is surely a bad thing.
Should We Call ‘Game Over’ On Video Game Remakes?
It’s a tough call. On the one hand, they are good for the game industry as they bring in more money for studios, which could, in theory, be used to offset the sales risks associated with untested IPs. Remakes and remasters of older titles also give new players the opportunity to play them, and when given the attention they deserve, they can be good for gamers who want to play their favourite titles with updated graphics.
On the other hand, it can be argued that some remakes are made purely to profit companies who care more about their bank balance than their gaming audience. This is especially true when the games in question haven’t been given the attention that gamers deserve.
When looking at the future, many more remakes are in the pipeline. It might be that you are looking forward to them but if you want something brand new to play, your attention will obviously be turned elsewhere.
In answer to our question then, that is for you to decide. Do you enjoy remakes and remasters? Or do you want developers to produce more original IPs? Leave a comment below with your personal thoughts on the matter.