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Opinion: Remastering and Rebooting Games Can Stall New IP Innovation

Studios have been at hard at work developing VR-friendly games and remastering the older titles for the current generation of gamers.

Growing up in the mid 80's and 90's had their perks when it came to seeing new franchises flourish, technology emerge, and innovation aspire creativity within an infant industry. If you look at the games I played growing up, you'd scratch your head wondering what made many of them nostalgic, and even the very representation of what gaming was at that time.

Titles like Wolfenstein and DOOM heralded in the FPS genre with a shove into first person creativity while titles such as The Legend of Zelda took us on epic quests across an unbelievable world. These titles have ushered in an era where we've begun to see their classic adventures become rebooted, remastered, and overhauled to fit the modern era. It also helps me remember games from not even 7-8 years ago that I enjoyed. Namely titles such as BioShock, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Darksiders II, and many more that launched shortly before or after the launch of current gen consoles.

Screenshot from DOOM during my review playthrough.

In this modern era of gaming - gamers have finally gotten to see titles like "DOOM" push forth perfect scores with a reboot that feel like a true successor to an original. They've seen "Wolfenstein: The New Order" take the world by storm in an imaginative force that took an alternative glimpse of World War II if Hilter had won, and you've even seen titles such as "DarkSiders II: Deathinitive Edition" give the franchises another chance for Death to ride once more.

As someone who is admittedly guilty of joining in on this, I'd be ashamed of myself if I hadn't admitted my pleasure in obtaining the re-releases myself. I've gladly grabbed the "Kingdom Hearts" remasters, I've even gone as far as picking up "Final Fantasy X-X2 HD Remaster" without hesitation, but I also went as far as walking down to my local retailer in order to pre-order the freshly announced "BioShock: The Collection" that's slated for release this September as stated on the official 2K Games' blog.

But there's a downside to this, one that begun to emerge as I watched games such as "Resident Evil 6," "Dark Souls II: The Scholar of the First Sin," and even the famed "Borderlands: The Handsome Collection" launch on the latest gen consoles - a downside I didn't realize that existed. Within gaming development, we already know that studios such as the one containing Capcom's Resident Evil team have been at hard at work with two roles: developing a VR friendly Resident Evil VII and even going as far as to remastering the older titles for the current generation of gamers. You can see the YouTube video above by YouTuber Cycu1 that shows the upgrade differences for Resident Evil 6.

As a gamer with no experience in game development; I know there's a lot that goes into development cycles, but when it comes to remastering - I know there's even more as the developers must ensure that each title runs considerably well on the platform it has been implemented on, but also to ensure the game is in full running order when it launches. This means regardless of what we think; a game is being developed with an intention to work at its original maximum settings while playing buttery smooth when applicable.

Photo Credits to DudeRandom84 on YouTube

If you glance back to last year, you're well aware it was the year of remakes I could make you a list of the games that came out, the ones that are coming out, and even the ones we could very well see getting overhauled into the modern age. So before I begin lets take a brief glance at the titles remastered in the past just to get an idea of how this stalled the creativity behind what could have forged sequels, new IPs, and even could have offered up new content for each of those titles:

Previously Remastered for Xbox One and or PlayStation 4:

  • Batman: Return to Arkham Collection (July 26th, 2016)
  • BioShock: The Collection (September13th, 2016)
  • Borderlands: The Handsome Collection
  • Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition
  • Dishonored Definitive Edition
  • Final Fantasy X-X2 HD Remastered
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • Metro Redux
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire/Omega Ruby
  • Resident Evil
  • Resident Evil 0
  • Resident Evil 5
  • Resident Evil 6
  • Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition
  • State of Decay: Year
  • The Last of Us Remastered
  • Tomb Raider Definitive Edition
  • Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection

While incomplete, the list gives an example of what is going on as a trend that started back in 2014. As troubling as it seems - it's something that is very alive and continues on as a detrimental curve that only seems to be continuing on clear into this fall with titles like "Kingdom Hearts 2.8 HD Remix" that seek to allow players to get one last taste in before an upcoming sequel. Sadly this trend - along with annual releases - show that companies know how to play the market safely - they also know how gamers will react when they see the latest title in their favorite franchise.

Screenshot from Kotaku's KH comparison video.

The developers and pulishers also know their fans will buy a remaster in order to experience their original game in a rather new way - these new ways can include: higher resolutions, smoother framerates, and possibly new control options. This approach also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by "Braid" developer Jonathon Blow from back in 2014:

Game publishers like to talk about how new IPs are scary and risky and usually not worth it... but this is clearly poor thinking, because every single megablockbuster franchise, that Mr. Business Suit Guy would rather put the money toward, was once a new IP.— Jonathan Blow (@Jonathan_Blow) February 26, 2014

In their remastering games we are seeing something familiar going on, it's something Call of Duty's publisher Activision has done for quite some time now; play-it-safe and re-hash the same graphics, mechanics, and even engine with each new launch. If remasters teach us anything, it's the fact those of us that buy into these remasters show what we are comfortable with, and will continue to buy into if it's released.

The truth is harsh when I state it's our fault we aren't seeing as many new IP's from many of the big AAA developers out there as we once did. It's time for us to lay down our want for remasters and let innovation once more spring forth from game developers. It's also time for us to show that we want something new, bigger, better, and more awesome than predecessor titles from nostalgia inducing titles. If we don't? We'll just get more remasters without getting fresh new games.

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