There is a new trend starting in the gaming industry and it is completely reliant on old games. Doesn’t make sense, you say? Well, while relying on old games for new content isn’t the best strategy for pushing the boundaries in the gaming industry, it has proven to be a very lucrative practice.

The idea of “remastering” games came about when developers first realized that they could take their awesome old games that were made in crappy Standard Definition and do some minor tweaks to character and environmental models and textures to make them look great in High Definition. At first these remastered games were welcomed with open arms by the gaming community. Who wouldn’t want to play classics like Shadow of the Colossus, ICO, Final Fantasy X/X-2, and Kingdom Hearts in beautiful HD? I know I own everyone one of those games, and I have thoroughly enjoyed playing them on a high def console and TV. In fact, one of the primary reasons I purchased an Xbox One is to play Halo: The Master Chief Collection, the remastered collection of all the games in the Halo franchise.

The problem comes in with not so old games getting the “remastered” treatment too soon after their initial release. Some people may argue that games like The Last of Us and Tomb Raider couldn’t reach their full potential on the previous generation of consoles, Xbox 360 and PS3, and truly deserved a graphical enhancement on the PS4 and Xbox One, but other people would argue that while the graphical enhancements are nice, they are definitely not worth $50-$60, especially since the original games released ~1 year ago. It is cool to have a nicer looking version of a game, but when “nicer” is calculated in pixel count and shaded areas, maybe the game could have sat on the shelf a little longer before a “remaster” was necessary.

Yes, the PS4 version does look nice, but it is only slightly better than the original.

Yes, the PS4 version does look nice, but it is only slightly better than the original.

In my opinion, both The Last of Us and Tomb Raider are excellent games. In fact, both made my top games of 2013 list, but I think that it would have been better for the fans, and for the developers, if a little more time was taken between the initial release and the remastered release. The time would have given gamers a little while longer to appreciate the original version and given the developers a little while longer to add in small features or improvements that they didn’t think of right away.

The perfect example of a company that remastered something right is 4A Games. They remastered both of their hit games, Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light and are selling them together in the Metro Redux collection for $50. Both of these games have received graphical enhancements, but Metro 2033 has also received a total UI and controls overhaul. Now, Metro 2033 Redux is a better experience than the original from more than just a graphical standpoint. Everything that you loved about Metro Last Light is now in Metro 2033. The Metro Redux collection is the perfect example of how to give recent games the “remastered” treatment. Give the gamers more than what they had before, not just a prettier version of the same thing at an affordable price.

Now, this whole remastered fad could be just that, a short term fad. In my opinion, this idea was borne out of 2 things, new consoles and less money. Every developer has had some version of the PS4 and Xbox One for much longer than the public has, so they have had time to play with the system and see what it can do. Most of the time, developers find out what they can do with a system by doing internal remasters of their own games, so it would make sense for a developer to just make a remastered version of their most recent game as a test, then sell it once the system releases.

For a company like Square Enix, who has been struggling financially recently, releasing remastered versions of their back catalog games is an easy way to make money. All of the assets are built and the whole game is finished, all that is needed is a little facelift. There is no need to hire a new development team or pour tons of money into development. It is a quick and easy process that yields a pretty good profit, especially for classics like Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy X.

The time was right to remaster FFX and X-2, and the result is just as amazing as the originals.

The time was right to remaster FFX and X-2, and the result is just as amazing as the originals.

The good part about Square Enix’s bad situation is that it opens the possibility to many more amazing remakes of classic Square and Square Enix games, but it also means a reduced focus on new titles and longer time between new releases. For example, fans have been waiting with bated breath for any news about Final Fantasy XV or Kingdom Hearts III, but neither game was showed at E3 2014, and it is likely that both games won’t be released until late 2015 at the earliest.

All in all, remastered games really present a mixed bag of awesomeness and apprehension. On one hand, we have games that truly deserve a re-release and a facelift, and there are other games that just feel like blatant money grabs. In my opinion, the remastered treatment should be reserved for games that truly need/deserve it.

What are your thoughts on remastered games? Do you think that games like The Last of Us should be remastered so early in their lifetime, or do you think that treatment should be reserved for classic titles like Final Fantasy X and Halo?

 

About The Author

Nick C
COO/Podcast Host

I’m Nick, a proud nerd and gamer. I rock my Star Wars tattoos like I’m a real Jedi, and I hope I will be making games first and playing them second in the future!