For the modern gamer, there’s a seemingly endless selection of titles to choose from in the modern generation of consoles. From backlogged titles to brand new games just hitting shelves, indie to triple-A, the options there is a finite quantity, but it's tough to count that high. I personally have over 300 games on my ready to install list. That’s not even including EA Access or Xbox Game Pass titles I have at my disposal. After looking over what I have available, I noticed something remarkable. Around 15% percent of the titles were older games that were re-released or remastered. This means I’ve at least purchased 40 games again
. This revelation initially left me puzzled and made me wonder, why did I re-purchase so many games I had already played?
This repackaging and reselling has become so popular as of late. The trend goes beyond games to even include consoles now. When we consider that these retro consoles can be emulated on modern devices at no additional cost to the consumer, it's no wonder why some people oppose those selling tactics from companies like Nintendo. Yet for some reason, these re-released consoles sell incredibly well and are hard to come by. Just ask anyone who tried to acquire the Mini NES over the past year. Despite releasing a brand new console just months ago, one that is selling very well, Nintendo is still chasing the nostalgia dollars from its devoted fanbase. I’d be lying to you if I told you I had no interest in snagging up one of these consoles myself.
The only way to properly dissect the question of why — why do I and perhaps others willingly repurchase these games we already own — is to analyze the titles that have been repurchased. One of the most notable titles in my library is actually a collection from the acclaimed BioShock
series. You’ve heard it a million times before, the first BioShock
is a classic. While I personally don’t care too much about the sequel, I adored the story behind BioShock Infinite
and knew I needed to replay this. Though I could never replicate the feeling of learning about Booker Dewitt’s past or learn anew the power of the question “Would you kindly?" I craved to re-experience those moments. Seeing that I no longer owned any copies in the series, it was easier and convenient to purchase the collection instead of going on a wild goose hunt for new copies. Additionally, I figured replaying each game would be beneficial for my gamerscore.
Confession time: the only reason why I purchased an Xbox (and eventually an Xbox 360) was because of the Halo
series. It should come as no surprised that I purchased the Halo: The Master Chief Collection
. Combat Evolved
was the first Xbox title I ever experienced. I’ve been a fan since I was seven years old and I’ve purchased every single Halo
game since then. Aside from the perceived value of the first four titles bundled into one game, I purchased the Master Chief Collection
simply to attempt to relive those moments. Though I promised myself I wouldn’t purchase this collection, my nostalgia got the best of me. It didn’t help that my Xbox 360 caught the Red Ring of Death at the time of this release. Buying the collection was absolutely a no brainer. Was I able to duplicate my prowess on the battlefields online and in the games' story modes? Not always quite as well, no. But did I happily relieve my childhood memories as an adult? Sort of — and I guess that's enough for me.
Moving onto another Xbox Exclusive, I did the same with Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
. I had favorable experiences with other titles in the Gears of Wars
series, but I never liked the original entry. In my opinion, the 2006 game didn’t age well and it seemed like a difficult task to go in reverse and play the original again, even if it was improved upon for Xbox One. So why did I even buy the remaster? I figured I’d give the game another shot. I realized I’ve aged quite a bit since its initial release (I was 12 at the time) and I clearly wasn’t the intended audience back then. I'm thankful I did because I now love the Ultimate Edition and think of it favorably. It provided an excellent story while also presenting a modern experience that didn’t feel clunky or odd. It must be one of the best remaster jobs of this busy remake era. Without that remaster, I probably would have never known my opinion would change.
More of my naysaying was once found with a former TA Game of the Year winner. I never liked The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
at launch. It’s embarrassing to admit but Skyrim
was my first deep dive into open world RPGs. At launch all of my friends spent hundreds of hours playing and I just didn’t understand it. Fast forward five years into the future and I was in a gaming drought. I needed an engrossing game to sink my teeth into just as the remaster hit shelves. Had I known that my distaste of the game would grow into a near addiction, I maybe would have been better off to never have picked up a copy. The nonlinear gameplay, the deep leveling system, the massive world rich with culture and characters, it all pulled me in. Skyrim
is an amazing game that I just couldn’t appreciate during its initial launch. Giving this title another opportunity was a risk but proof of a well investment.
Maybe some people could've gone back to the original versions of games like Skyrim
are discovered their new feelings for those games, but for me, I needed the remasters. Without them, I would've been content to continue avoiding them forever. Instead, I'm better off for having played them. My gaming knowledge base has expanded and the simple act of enjoying a game surely never gets old either. I can now do that again with some nostalgic titles I no longer had access to, while discovering brand new games that I was mistakenly content with dodging for years.
Now I’m well aware I likely hold a minority view regarding the constant re-releases. Gamers see them as easy cash grabs that don't benefit the industry. Some people fear it will eliminate backwards compatibility in the future. Others see it as lazy and not only a waste of a studio's money but also the consumer's. Why purchase a game at full price when you have a cheaper (or free) alternative available to you? Why invest in a port or recreation when usually nothing but visuals are improved — especially when it's a game only a few years old getting "remastered"? All of these arguments are valid to a degree. I grant that.
Let’s be real, Microsoft has no plans of stopping backwards compatibility. In fact, new backwards compatible titles are being added almost weekly. I don’t believe gamers should fear the death of the BC program. If you're like me and shamelessly reinvest in the same titles, at least they don’t necessarily have to be expensive. Most remasters and re-releases aren’t priced at full retail and if they are, it's usually because they package multiple games in a bundle, not to mention how soon sale prices arrive for these types of games. All titles mentioned in this article, and close to all others like them, can most likely be found in a local retailer at a discounted price. As for publishers making a quick buck, it’s definitely a factor. It’s also very possible that potential buyers may find interest in a game and have no clue it’s a re-release or remaster. Additionally, publishers who produce successful remasters can invest that money in new games in the same series or support a game already in production.
The market undeniably does repackage games to us with high frequency. Older remasters are easier to swallow for many but I don't find even the more recent games getting facelifts as an inherently bad proposition. There are loads of benefits and I genuinely do think they outnumber the detriments. Just as consumers purchase remastered or extended cuts of their favorite films, books with new forwards or art, or music with bonus tracks, the same can be said for games. The fear is that publishers will grow lazy and continue to resell us the same games while failing to innovate. That's valid, but like always we can vote with our wallets. Support the companies who use remasters to supplement their catalog, not those who depend on them completely. Nostalgia can be used for good, as can the general business of remasters and re-releases. If the creators are benefiting with more investment money for their next new project and we are benefiting from the universal joys of nostalgia and discovering new games we otherwise may have missed, I've got to ask, are all these remasters really so bad?