Although the gameplay and story of The Council seem dreamy, the visuals are more of a nightmare says Gaming's Zak HughesWritten by Zak Hughes on 17th July 2018
Remasters – A Positive or Burden for the Gaming Industry?
Gaming Editor Nick Burton assesses the current situation with remasters. Necessary, or over-priced nonsense?
Disclaimer – remasters are games that have been modified to look and sound better than in its original state of release. It does not include radical changing of the core elements of the game, as that would be a remake. An example to illustrate this – The Bioshock Collection is a remastered collection. Ratchet and Clank for PS4 is a remake.
Remasters have been more prominent in the current console generation than any generation before. Why is this? It seems that publishers, and perhaps developers also, use remasters for a variety of reasons. Most prominently to test the waters to measure how popular a certain IP (Intelligent Property) is or could be in the near future. But the more important question on the mind of gamers – are remasters a good thing? This debate has been happening for many years, and many gaming personalities agree and disagree on remasters happening. It usually comes to down to one main factor. What game is being remastered. I will be exploring some reasons why we should welcome remasters more than we currently do, and also why perhaps they’re more poisonous for the industry than it may seem.
An obvious advantage for the existence of remasters is that gamers who missed out on some of the best games (assuming games that are being remastered are better than average which I think is the case) last generation or even generations before can experience the game in a better form than when it was released. A brilliant example is The Bioshock Collection. Three games bundled into one package, the first and last of which are generally regarded as some of the best games ever created. Remasters give gamers the opportunity to catch up on experiences they may have missed out on, and certainly deserve to have.
Furthermore, for a gamer who’s currently playing Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, it can be quite difficult to take a step back to the old console generation to experience these reputable games when 60 FPS is becoming the norm and graphics are considerably less detailed. Of course, we can take this argument to the extreme and use it to explain why perhaps gamers of today can’t literally, physically play classics like The Legend of Zelda, because of how far games have come. I don’t think it’s the same severity as going from Infinite Warfare to Bioshock. Nonetheless, remasters are an opportunity for the gamer to experience the original game in a, for want of a better word, ‘better form’.
Remasters also give gamers a chance to re-visit their favourite franchises. Many people did in fact play BioShock, and the collection is simply serving them as a platform to jump back into some of the best games last generation. This illustrates the opportunity remasters not only give to current gamers who missed said game, it gives a chance for gamers to re-visit some of their favourite games of the previous generations.
Now while it may be true that remasters give opportunities to gamers, it could be said that they also take away possible experiences for gamers. One of the main arguments against remasters is the idea that the resources used to produce and publish the remasters could be used to create new and interesting franchises. Remasters are in effect, some would say, stopping gamers from possibly having the next great experience provided by games such as Journey or Inside. Studios with potential are being used to re-release experiences that people have already had, or can go back and have. Should gamers be punished by not having more new experiences just because other gamers didn’t get the time to play some games last generation? A difficult question.
Another critique of remasters which is extremely topical at the moment, is the idea of using remasters as leverage or an incentive to buy a product. For instance, Modern Warfare Remaster. Let’s be clear here, I think (and respected individuals who think) this game is generally regarded as one of the most important games of all time. It changed a respected franchise to a colossal best-seller, and it’s campaign altered the expectations we have of FPS’s (‘All Ghillied Up’ is a must-play mission for any fan of the FPS genre).
Taking these things into account, was it right for Activision to use it as leverage to purchase Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare? Definitely not. For someone who supported COD:MW by purchasing it when it was originally released and by investing hundreds of hours into its revolutionary online mode (such as myself), it is hard to see why they should be forced into buying a game. It is irrelevant if they wish to purchase/play Infinite Warfare, the consumer should have the right to purchase which product they want without having to invest more money into a product they maybe don’t want, or at least don’t want to invest in. Activision are taking away the consumer choice for gamers who want to purchase their remaster singularly. There is of course much context as to why this is the case, but again, gamers should not be punished for the failings of the publisher (as it is widely thought that the direction of the Call of Duty franchise has taken a turn for the worse).
You could always reply with the fact that gamers can always pick up a console from the previous generation, purchase a copy of Modern Warfare and enjoy. However, gamers know they have this option, they know they can always invest in previous hardware if they wish, but a console for one game seems quite an extreme investment, and also, gamers want to play the remastered version. They want to experience updated graphics and sound effects. In the end, despite the problems remasters have, mainly for gamers, gamers clearly want them, and they will be around until gamers cease this desire.