From Resident Evil to Spyro to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare to Dark Souls and, most infamously of all, Skyrim, it seems as if every popular game released within the last 25 years is getting rereleased or reimagined in some way. This phenomenon really started last console generation, with games such as Shadow of the Colossus, the Tomb Raider trilogy, and the Prince of Persia trilogy receiving HD remasters for the PS3 and Xbox 360.
But now, games are not only being merely remastered but often remade from the ground up entirely – even Shadow of the Colossus got this treatment for the PS4 last year. Not only that, these remakes and remasters seem to be everywhere. But I see the current popularity of these remakes as very positive.
Games are distinct from film, television, and books in that they are very often not accessible to everyone at a given time due to console exclusivity. For the last three console generations, we’ve had three choices: Nintendo, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Sony’s PlayStation. These consoles can cost anywhere between £300 and £400 each, often more when you factor in extras such as spare controllers, headsets, and other accessories. You’ll likely just buy one of these consoles per generation, possibly two, but generally, few of us have the funds to fork out for all three. Inevitably, people will miss out on certain games per generation, due to them being exclusive to just one or two of these three consoles.
Those who opted for an Xbox 360 last generation missed out on the PS3-exclusive The Last of Us, for example, which was rereleased this generation for PS4, the best-selling console of the current three. Going even further back, if you never bothered with the PS1 back in the 1990s, or simply weren’t born before the console’s release, you would have missed out on Spyro and Crash Bandicoot, both exclusive to the system. Now, you can play both of these series’ original trilogies on PS4 or Xbox One. Take your pick. They’re not to be missed.
Remakes and remasters can alleviate the problem of missing out on games due to console exclusivity. Watching old movies or shows is often as easy as booting up Netflix, or Amazon Prime, or buying DVDs for cheap. The same can’t be said for video games, where revisiting an older game from a bygone console generation often means having to find and buy the old console, which isn’t always a practical and affordable means of getting to play an old game that interests you. As a result, some of these games are simply inaccessible to many of those interested in them.
And that’s not even mentioning the considerable advances in technology over the past 40 years. You can mock them all you want, but it remains inevitable that many of those who grew up with more modern consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360 as opposed to the consoles of the 1980s and 1990s, find older games difficult to get used to, with their clunky controls and poorly-aged graphics. Charming to some, but unplayable to others. Remakes allow others to experience an improved version of a game they may have never even considered playing before.
So, while the abundance of remakes in the video game industry right now might seem exhausting, it has a lot of positives. Remaking and rereleasing these brilliant games make them accessible to the people that may have missed out on them the first time. And of course, if you did play the game on its original release and loved it, replaying it can be a fun and satisfying experience in itself. I should know, I’m on my 17th Skyrim character…