In Defense of Remastered Editions Each time a new (or old, depending on how you look at it) remastered game is announced, the collective groan from message boards, Twitter, comments and even the press can be heard around the Internet. What can you do as a consumer of games? The simple answer is, vote with your wallet. If you aren’t excited about remastered content then don’t support their creation. Publishers only release products, because they make money and if the sales don’t justify the expense, they will stop creating these games. This means despite the vocal complaints online, an audience still exists who accepts these releases with open arms. It’s for these players that we shouldn’t scorn remastered titles, as they may have good reasons for wanting them – they may have switched console manufacturers, purchased their first gaming machine or due to the expansive library of releases, didn’t have a chance to play the original. Despite some of the most popular complaints, remastered titles serve as a reminder of the past and can be worthwhile additions to the current generation’s library. Too Soon Sony set the trend of remastered titles by releasing compilations of PS2-era games on the PS3, such as Ratchet & Clank, God of War and Jak & Daxter. These came out five-plus-years from the original release and were a welcomed return to yesteryear. The ambiguous and non-specific ‘enough time’ had passed for the community to accept them as necessary reminders of the gaming legacy. Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, Borderlands The Handsome Collection and The Last of Us Remastered were ported from last-gen to current within a year of their original release. Instead of analyzing this as a quick turnaround, players should view this more as a “Game of the Year” edition. The original release of these titles took years of development, production and coding to create. The development studios didn’t want to pull a Twilight Princess and just wait for the next generation of consoles to up-port their title. Instead they released the game in the original format and when the opportunity to expand with the now-accepted GOTY edition arose the studio decided this was the perfect time to cross console generations, not before. This approach should be commended: they decided to stick with the established install base instead of running to the newer, shinier gaming machine. Limited Resources Remastered titles make money, thus creating additional revenue that publishers can (in theory) spend on other projects. Yes, there is an initial investment but at this point in the game’s life cycle and fan base, it seems like a safe bet that they will make money. The profits from remastered titles can be the catalyst necessary to seed additional projects. Most of the remastered projects are farmed out to a different studio instead of the original creator. 343 Industries completed Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary before going to work on Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. Sanzaru Games developed The Sly Collection then was tapped to create Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time. Not only are the remastered titles not taking manpower away from the original studio, they are serving as a resume-building experience for the next development studio to prove competency with the property. This is a unique opportunity to pass the baton from one creator to the next. Even when the same studio works on the original and remastered version, it is a learning opportunity. Naughty Dog called out that one of the reasons they created The Last of Us: Remastered was to familiarize the team with the hardware and capabilities of the PS4. This provided them with a head-start when developing Uncharted: A Thief’s End as it wasn’t the first time they worked with the PS4. Lack of Backwards Compatibility There are some conspiracy theorists that call out the reason new consoles don’t have the ability to play last-generation games is so developers can create remastered titles in the first place. This is objectively false (unless I’m part of the master plan to keep consumers in the dark). Backwards compatibility is the exception, not the rule in gaming consoles. The PS2 can play PS, Wii U can play Wii and Wii can play GameCube. Outside of these examples, it is only select models of the console and even then there are certain restrictions on the game, features and options available to players. And the craziest part? Most console owners never actually use the backwards compatible feature – it’s a nice-to-have, not a necessity. The PS4 and Xbox One were created with price in mind for consumers. It’s not software that challenges backwards compatibility, it’s hardware. Manufacturers would need to build a mini-PS3 into the PS4 to allow for last-generation gameplay – an inclusion that would increase the price to an unreasonable point for the consumer. The PS4 especially would have difficulties emulating last-gen games as the PS3 had a proprietary cell processor that made it difficult to code for. It was a tactical decision to remove this seldom-used functionality to ensure more people could pick up the hardware. Just Trying to Make Money This is probably the most valid critique of remastered titles in the sense that it is absolutely true. It is also the most ridiculous, because everything a company does is to try and make money. Nintendo doesn’t sell Amiibo because they wanted collectors to own a great looking shelf, Sony doesn’t partner with indie developers to help the little guy, and Microsoft isn’t telling the story of Master Chief because it is their life ambition. Each decision has the bottom line in mind and generating remastered titles is no different. As long as it is profitable, we will see new remastered titles created. Most gamers don’t play every genre or every console, and they don’t freak out whenever a new Xbox One game is announced or a different racing title (well…maybe some people do, but let’s focus on the 99%). Remastered editions should be no different and deserve the same amount of apathy as every other piece of entertainment that you don’t plan on purchasing – be excited if you are interested in the new game, but there is no need to complain if you don’t. What are your thoughts on remastered titles? Have you ever played a remastered edition? Is there a remastered upgrade that you are hoping will be announced? Level Up, Friends!