Are Remastered Re-Releases Getting Out of Hand? - Article

By Stephen C Barrett, July 6, 2014
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There is often a sense of gratification when a game that you loved gets released later in an even better form.  Whether it be enhanced graphics or improved control mechanics, there is something to be said about one of your favorite titles taking advantage of more modern technology.  However, there are two sides to this coin, with the other being that you’ve already played the game before and are expecting companies to provide new experiences today.

It’s not like this tactic is anything new, as we’ve had countless remasters and re-releases in the past, but their reappearance was also often warranted.  Games like The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection, Metal Gear Solid HD Collection and God of War Collection all consisted of two or more titles sold at a discounted price.  Most of the included titles were already several years old, were remastered in high definition, and presented in widescreen.  In short, repurchasing these titles was justifiable for their fans. 

This generation we received The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for Wii U last year, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection is set to release later this year on Xbox One; the former being a ten year old game now in HD/widescreen with gameplay enhancements and the latter being a great value package with two of its inclusions also ten or more years old, now in HD.  Suffice it to say that remastered re-releases can certainly be a welcome commodity.

Unfortunately, though, too much of a good thing can sometimes be... well, too much.  The two biggest offending aspects of re-releases are, first, that a company wants to reap more reward and profit off of an existing game, and second, the fact that said company could have put that time and effort toward working on a whole new game instead.  Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, along with the upcoming The Last of Us Remastered, and the re-release of Grand Theft Auto V are three games this year that arguably cater to this mentality.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One released less than a year after its original PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 incarnation and again retailed at its full $60 price.  Several graphical enhancements were made, including improved resolution and framerate, but many consumers would rather put that asking price towards a new Tomb Raider entry built from the ground up on their 8th generation console(s).

The Last of Us Remastered for the PlayStation 4 benefits from many of the aforementioned graphical enhancements and is set to retail for $10 cheaper than the original’s PlayStation 3 debut, but again, it's releasing just over a year later.  While this version is great for people who have never played the game before, many PlayStation 4 owners are justifiably more anxious to see Naughty Dog’s programming finesse take advantage of their new hardware with a ground-up effort rather than a post-haste remake.

Grand Theft Auto V is also making its way to Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles this fall and shares pretty much the same traits as Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and The Last of Us Remastered.  All of these games were already presented in HD/widescreen and released only about a year prior.  However, unlike Tomb Raider, which did not quite meet publisher Square-Enix’s profit expectations, or The Last of Us, which was limited to only one console, Grand Theft Auto V does not suffer from either of those impediments, making its re-release seem even more questionable.

If the demand is there for these re-releases, then there’s nothing wrong with them per se; after all, nobody is forcing you to buy them again, but one has to wonder if it’s less about catering to gamers and more about maximizing profits and augmenting gaming libraries by taking the easy route.

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