The next-gen landscape continues to fill up with remastered versions of popular video games. Recently launched was Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Dishonored Definitive Edition, and many are still hoping the original Borderlands gets a remaster. I consistently, however, hear people decrying this as a cheap cash grab that needs to stop. While I can understand gamers wanting more new games as opposed to re-worked old ones, I think we may be missing out on how remastered games can help the industry. However, I do think some ports, like Dishonored, were sloppily done and I called for people to not buy it after my poor experience with it.
Remnants of the past
One of my favorite parts about playing through Rare Replay with my older brother was being reminded of the types of games that made me a gamer. They were far more simplistic and the graphics were not that impressive, but the core elements were there. Even the most basic game can be both fun and challenging because it presents a unique objectives with the unknown of how to proceed or win. New games can start to jade us and make everything seem unimpressive and boring. I’ve actually argued before that because games have advanced so fast that we expect every new game to break new ground and amaze us because that’s largely been the experience for games who have grown up in the era of video games. Remastered and rejuvenated old titles can help us look back with fond memories of the games we used to play, but it can also help us see just how far games have come. This doesn’t mean we overlook flaws and problems in current games, but it can certainly make us appreciate what we have a lot more. It can also remind us of what ultimately matters in games.
Too many new games have fallen prey to placing too much emphasis on graphics and “wow factor”. Older games didn’t have huge marketing budgets and avenues for creating hype, they had to deliver a fun experience or nobody would care. I think a constant flow of old games brought back to life on current gen platforms can help gamers start to see what really matters. The old consoles and games were fun because they focused on innovation more than graphical flourishes and 1080 vs 720 and frame rates. So in a way, remastered games like Gears of War and Dishonored can become new through current-gen systems, but they can also influence the new games coming out. With YouTube channels and Twitch streams, older games can get exposure and recognition they may never have gotten in the past. Overtime this sort of thing can start to help games keep an open mind about less graphically strong indie titles or games that focus more on delivering lots of content and a fun experience. The more we are exposed to quality games, the more we will see through the veneer of empty marketing that centers on “ground breaking graphics” and start demanding better quality games. This is also a great marketing decision given the new games on the horizon.
Since we already have Gears of War and Dishonored, these remastered games can serve as a pre-cursor to those launches. Unfortunately for Dishonored, the Definitive Edition hasn’t received high praise which hopefully doesn’t hurt sales of the sequel. I still think this is good and healthy marketing because the hype will not be artificial. It’s one thing to whip up the community with cinematic trailers and vague details. It’s a completely different thing to allow Twitch and YouTube to fill with community members anxious to dive back into classic titles again. It is far better for gamers looking forward to the new titles to get excited because of the existing games in the franchise instead of because of marketing hype and trailers. This also serves as a good measure when reviewing and critiquing the new games. And that sword cuts both ways. It should help players see how far the franchises have come and improved, but it will also help them hold the game companies accountable if the new games don’t deliver. If Dishonored Definitive Edition starts trending on Twitch, and I think it will, lots of people will get to see what all the fuss is about and probably become interested in the sequel. That interest will likely then turn into purchases of the Definitive Edition so they can familiarize themselves with the story and the gameplay. This is how you create loyal fans and happy consumers, through organic interest and loyalty, rather than through expensive marketing campaigns that end up hurting the games reception more often than not. And at the end of the day, it’s easy money and profit for proven products that will satisfy those who purchase them, so as rare as it is to be able to say this: everybody wins.
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