Features

The Remaster – Is it Really Such a Bad Thing?

Remaster: A term that would bring excitement as we watched a beloved experience receiving a full makeover, allowing us to once again experience the wonderful adventure on our current batch of consoles. These days the term has a lot of negative stigma, mostly due to the large number of remastered titles releasing each month rather than each year. The remaster has become more than common throughout the gaming industry, especially with the introduction of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Though some hate the huge number of remastered titles being released, some absolutely adore them for many reasons.

Now what exactly determines whether or not a game deserves a remaster? How long it has been released? How critically acclaimed it was? How adored is it by the fans? How much the fans are asking for it? It seems these days these questions don’t need to be answered, with titles being released in remastered forms less than 6 months after the initial release.

The latest remaster to be announced was Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which bundles Borderlands 2 – a beloved title acclaimed critically, commercially and by the fans from 2012 – alongside Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, which originally released in October 2014. One is a few years old, while one is barely six months of age. Does this bundle constitute as an acceptable remaster? We are for a fact experiencing a game from a few years ago that seems to answer most of the questions previously mentioned, but on the other hand, we have a title that doesn’t answer any of those questions being released alongside it.

The Legend of Zelda Majoras Mask

So is this a good remaster? Maybe, maybe not. But this can be said with a majority of the remasters that have been released over the last 12 months, and those that will be released in the next 12 months.

Personally, I believe the remaster has many strong reasons for existing, and many of those justify its existence.

What is old is new again.

Experiencing a classic is an amazing feeling, whether it’s for those who want to relive something memorable or those too young to have ever experienced such masterful work. Though, as we have established, not every remastered title seems to adhere to the classic motif, or even to the longevity between original releases, but some provide an excellent way to look into the past.

I had never experienced DuckTales before, but in 2013 with DuckTales Remastered, I was able to experience a memorable title for the first time. The idea of a remaster bringing new life to a property, franchise, or even a single release, is a bright one, and allowing the past to once again be reborn as something new is excellent.

DuckTales Remastered 3

Later this year, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask will be released for the 3DS, which has garnered a lot of excitement from veteran fans to gamers who never experienced the original. Giving players the option to experience the past once again is only a good thing.

Two years ago, I played Tomb Raider, which in itself was a reboot of the original series, and I loved it to death. It was one of my most beloved titles in recent memory. Last year it was remastered for next generation consoles. Was I upset that this game was remastered? No, even though it was less than 12 months since it was originally released, I loved having an excuse to replay a masterpiece. Though the time-frame from original release certainly wouldn’t constitute a remaster, the fact it existed could be attributed to Rise of the Tomb Raider’s existence.

Helping fund future titles.

Originally, Square Enix announced the Tomb Raider reboot didn’t reach the intended sales targets. Although I don’t have any inside information or background in where percentages of gaming sales go, the fact a remaster was made seems likely to be a way to increase those targets. In fact, the sales from the remaster could have showcased this is a series worth exploring further – even if it didn’t reach the (obscene) numbers Square originally had intended.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition Screen 5

In this way, a remaster is a great way for fans to showcase with their wallet what they want to see more of in the future. Could the sales of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D have helped provide a strong indication that remakes of this nature will sell? Perhaps even proving fans want these titles available on their 3DS, and in turn helping Majora’s Mask come to the handheld?

It seems remasters have transitioned into a way for developers and publishers to see if a franchise can find new blood, providing a new way for old fans to enjoy something they love, but also inviting new players to play the “entire collection in one package” as many remasters continue to emphasise.

Support developers you choose to support.

Further exploring this theory, Square Enix also helped release a Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition for next generation consoles, but that’s not all. Not only did Sleeping Dogs have an opportunity to increase its sales, but Ninja Theory will be bringing DmC: Definitive Edition to next generation consoles to do just that, alongside the recent announced of the Borderlands: Handsome Collection.

Not only are developers looking to showcase IP’s that may not have sold enough to warrant a sequel, but they are also reintroducing fans to previous titles in large properties such as Halo and Kingdom Hearts. Even the hugely successful The Last of Us received a remastered edition 12 months after its original release.

DmC - Devil May Cry - Definitive Edition #2

Whether increasing awareness in new IP’s (Sleeping Dogs), trying to improve sales that may not have reached the intended targets (Tomb Raider), or perhaps wanting to extend an already large reach before an upcoming installment (Halo), remastered games are being strategically placed to increase sales, awareness and the overall reach a franchise is capable of producing.

Is this a bad thing?

I don’t think so. Sure, some titles may not particularly warrant a remastered experience, but that’s why we have control of our wallet. Personally, I choose to purchase remastered titles because I either want to experience something I missed out, something I want to experience again, or for the case of Sleeping Dogs: Definitive Edition, I see it as a new way to support a game I love in hopes of getting an eventual sequel.

Developers love the industry, but with any product, they need to earn enough profits to allow them to continue their dream. Remastered titles allow for fans to support developers, publishers and franchises in new and profitable ways. We have all seen how tough the industry can be with one poor title costing an entire team of employees their livelihood. Even financially successful studios have dealt with large layoffs in the past.

Sleeping Dogs Screenshot 1

In the end, the remaster is there as a choice. We don’t have to purchase them if we feel the release isn’t warranted or if we feel the remaster isn’t up to scratch. We can vote with our wallets. But even if there is a title remastered you believe isn’t worthy, there is someone else reading the announcement in excitement to experience something new, to experience something amazing once more or to simply support something they truly love.

Though I may not be 100% behind every remaster that has ever been made, or will be developed in the future. I am fine seeing their existence, knowing that each one I disagree with, there will be one that excites me in the near future.


Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can like them on Facebook, follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA, and his videos on YouTube.

2 replies »

  1. I’m a bit torn when it comes to remasters. I’m fine with games that are on older harder to access consoles getting ported to newer consoles with a modern day graphics upgrade (e.g. Majora’s Mask and Halo 2’s upgrade in The Master Chief Collection).

    However, I believe it is a waste of resources to release a game that was only released 12 or less months ago (The Last of Us, GTA V, even Borderlands 2/Prequal and DmC). If I wanted to play those games, I would have bought them on Xbox 360/PlayStation 3.

    I’d be okay with Borderlands releasing on Xbox One/PS4 if it included the original game too, but it doesn’t which is strange.

    I accept your reasons for liking remasters though, nice article – it’s good to see you writing features again 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Nathan, it was great to be able to find time to write them again.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I also agree the lack of all 3 Borderlands titles is weird, perhaps they just wanted to have another remastered option? Or perhaps it would have taken more work? Who knows.

      Like

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