Kevin Trehan

Technology | Games | Design

8th Generation? More like 7.5…

March 20, 2015 Kevin Trehan 0 Comments

Every once-in-a-while, the Video Game industry goes into a frenzy. The Big Name players show off new console hardware, major publishers give peeks of thrilling new games, media outlets cover their inside scoops of what to expect, and consumers fall back onto the ever-lasting “Console Wars”.

A new console generation is pretty exciting!

Except for this one…

Over the past few years, Video Games have seen substantial growth as an industry. This is definitely a good thing because it means more people are invested in the single greatest entertainment medium ever created. Sadly, there is a slight repercussion: Capitalists gonna capitalize.

There are a number of methods that profit-mongering corporate bossmen have already implemented to take advantage of Video Game consumers: Yearly release cycles, unnecessary spinoffs and licensing, ludicrous microtransactions, and even downright theft! But there’s a new heist they’re trying to pull off and unfortunately it seems to be working.

Remasters… HD Remakes… Definitive Editions…

It was bad enough that they were selling us a new game every year that made only minor changes. But selling us the EXACT same game that we played just a couple years ago? AT FULL PRICE?!?! Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that I don’t want to see any game re-envisioned with the miracle of modern graphics. But there’s a threshold between remaking a game that has sentimental value and trying to milk your customers for cash. Unfortunately, the latter has been happening way too much this generation.

Take Sleeping Dogs Definitive Edition for example. The original Sleeping Dogs was a fantastic game. It had a decent story, believable characters, incredibly satisfying combat, and pretty good visual fidelity (for reference, I played it on PC). It was released in 2012. There were a few complaints about the graphics and some technical bugs, but overall it was a well-received experience and obtained fairly high review scores. but I suppose that wasn’t enough. Just two years later, the Definitive Edition was released. It addressed most of the concerns by bumping up some textures and the resolution, tweaking some gameplay mechanics, and fixing quite a few bugs. A very good patch, wouldn’t you say? NOPE! A $40 game you had to buy again to experience the fixes.

Sleeping Dogs isn’t the only game that’s a culprit of this. There has been an overabundance of games that aren’t even a full generation old that already have a remastered version or are getting one in the near future: Tomb Raider. The Last of Us. DmC: Devil May Cry. God of War III. Batman: Arkham Asylum/City. The list goes on and is ever-growing. But the problem is that the changes aren’t very impressive. They would be better distributed as patches rather than expensive upgrades. It seems like the current generation is being saturated with remakes and meaningless iterations rather than new content.

You have to REALLY concentrate up close to see any differences. Nobody will will take notice during gameplay, even if both old and new versions were played side-by-side.

You have to REALLY concentrate up close to see any differences. Nobody will will take notice during gameplay, even if both old and new versions were played side-by-side.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think all remasters are invalid. There are plenty of games that have been remade that I think are completely justified. There has to be a good reason, though, and it usually consists of:

  • Revitalizing a classic game that was important during its time and deserves to be maintained as modern gaming technology continues to advance
  • Satisfying the nostalgia of fans of an old game
  • Allowing younger gamers to experience older, vital games that they may no longer be able to play due to hardware incompatibilities

A great example of a justified remake is Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2. The developers completely reconstructed the games in a whole new engine, drastically improving graphical, audial, and gameplay(-ial?) quality. Just look at the difference!

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Amazing, isn’t it? Too bad I can’t actually play it, though, since it’s not out on PC…

The threshold I spoke of before needs to be defined and provide guidelines as to when a remake of a game is acceptable. I’d like to propose the following:

  • VERY ACCEPTABLE: A game that is two or more generations (note: GENERATIONS… not years…) old. Also, it would be beneficial if the game was well received, highly regarded, and a generally memorable experience. Remaking a game that didn’t do well would probably not sit well with most people.
  • SOMEWHAT ACCEPTABLE: One of the launch titles from the previous generation. during the first few months, games don’t usually take much advantage of the hardware available in that generation’s consoles. Developers are still learning the best ways to use the processing power most efficiently (This may soon be a moot point, though, since this generation of consoles is finally using standard PC processor architecture, which has been around for many years… Also, this may help with backwards compatibility in future generations).
  • NOT ACCEPTABLE: A game that released just a few years before the current generation. The improvements will be minuscule and don’t justify the cost of a whole new game. Additionally, the time and money required to create the remastered version would be better spent on current projects (to ensure that they don’t release as a buggy mess) or new and original games.
  • WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU THINKING?: A game that is released just a couple of months before the current generation was just bad timing. Either delay the game and release cross-generation/cross-platform games all at once or just scrap the previous generation version and only release on current generation hardware. Yes, there will be more sales initially on previous generation consoles since more people will own them, but your super awesome game will be held back by outdated hardware and releasing it just for the current generation may incentivize consumers to upgrade sooner rather than later. And, we won’t have to have a HUGE gap between cross-generation/superior PC releases (*cough* Grand Theft Auto V *cough*).

Of course, these are fairly rough and may need some tweaking, but don’t worry… I’ll release a remastered version of the guidelines in a few weeks.

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