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Remastered video games: Rightful Homage or Lazy Marketing?

By Jordan Stutts
 Getty / Cate Gillon
know your meme

Originally published on Know Your Meme

Nostalgia is a powerful emotion, and it seems video game developers have figured that out. Remastered iterations of gaming classics are rolling out in bunches now, giving old-school gamers all the feels for their favorite titles but with crisp graphics and quick processing. But are gamers being played by developers logging into human’s draw to nostalgia to make a quick buck on memories?
Here are three arguments making the case that remastered video games are a welcomed legacy, and three stating it’s mostly a marketing ploy.


Remastered games welcomed


Cost effective

Remastered titles are a cost-effective way to get hours of playable game time. They are usually sold at a cheaper rate than new releases, or more frequently sold in bundles at the industry standard $60.

It’s smart money for developers as well. The price and time to develop new games continues to climb—Grand Theft Auto V notably cost a staggering $265 million to make. Developers can quickly upgrade old games, sell them for a quick profit and reinvest in new games. A successful remastered classic could be what funds the next new hit.


Bridging generations

Remastered games not only rekindle lost passion for gamers who remember the original, it allows for a whole new generation to enjoy them, and on consoles they’re familiar with. Games like Crash Bandicoot had a profound impact on gaming culture some 20 years ago, and now they can reach a whole new audience by bringing their specs up to speed. What’s more, developers are starting to remaster games, like Halo and the Legend of Zelda, with a feature that allows gamers to toggle between old and new graphic displays.


Popular for a reason

Gamers are voting with their wallets that they will buy old games updated for new consoles. That’s why there is no end in sight for which pixelated games of yester-year will next appear in full 1080p. The top selling video games released in 2016 features a Hall of Fame-type list including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess and Ratchet and Clank.

And the enthusiasm isn’t all about the memories. A frequent complaint of new video game releases is dwindling story modes  Older titles, where more effort was put in to crafting an engaging solo campaign, can still provide gamers this need.


Remakes are Playing the gamer



The popularity of some remastered titles has led to an overabundance, where every game that once enjoyed success is being repackaged for new consoles. Repeatedly releasing updated games erodes the charm of the original creations.

Does every game need an update every few years?  Did the 2013 edition of Tomb Raider really needed a reappearance for next generation consoles in 2014


Easy way out

 Instead of investing the money, time and manpower on a remaster strategy, developers should focus on finishing long awaited new releases or fixing issues with current popular games. There is plenty of sequel opportunities for legacy titles like the Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts series, or even the recently upgraded Minecraft, that developers opting to remaster old games instead are taking the easy way out.


Digging up the past

 For some remastered games, anticipation for its release rivals titles that are making their debut. Some gamers are wondering if the abundance of old classics will take attention away from games that one day in the future could be considered this era’s legacy titles. Some consider it unfair that the hottest new releases of last year have to compete for attention with remastered games like Halo and Zelda, which have years of building a brand awareness.


The bottom line: Video game developers have tapped into a market with remastered games that old school gamers clearly will buy. That being said, the increased frequency of reboots makes it harder for new titles to compete for attention. In the end,  market forces that shape the industry, so next time you buy a game will you purchase a remastered classic or would you rather give a new release its fair shot?

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