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A Fresh Coat of Paint: Remasters and Video Game Preservation

Without a doubt, the video game industry is filled with an abundance of remasters. At times, it appears that original releases are on the way out in favour of unnecessary cash grabs. However, when one assesses the situation more closely, myriad positives arise. Unfortunately, video games fail to receive the same preservation rights that the film receives. On a more positive note, when remasters are done correctly, this is subject to change.

The real tragedy is that remasters can so easily be mishandled by corporate suits. None will quickly forget the ‘definitive edition’ saga that plagued the industry during the early years of the current console generation.

Therefore, throughout this article, I would like to take the time to analyse both the beneficial and utterly nefarious practices of remastering and determine once and for all whether or not the industry should provide beloved classics with a fresh coat of paint.

PS Now and Chill

When the truly excellent remake of Resident Evil 2 arrived on the scene in late January to terrify players all over again, it proved to be a colossal success. In fact, it surpassed Red Dead Redemption 2 to top the UK sales chart. While this is all well and good, a discussion on remakes is one to be had another day.

“It’s Not A Genuine WillDoubleJ Article Without a Resident Evil Mention…”

That being said, Resident Evil 2 Remake’s undeniable success validates that gamers are not averse to indulging in a healthy dose of nostalgia. Therefore, what are today’s gaming giants doing to keep these nostalgia-hankering gamers happy?

Alas, as a PlayStation fan since childhood, it greatly pains me to inform you that Sony has been pulling its punches during the 8th generation. It is true that the PlayStation Store accommodates many a gamer’s need with games that span the entirety of the PlayStation’s life. That being said, not all of these offerings are available for purchase on the PS4.

This decision is quite frankly dumbfounding. Imagine, if you will, someone who only owns a PS4 and wishes to play the original Resident Evil 2. Now imagine their dismay when they discover that they must gain ownership of a PS3 to experience the same joy as many a player before them. In this age of substantial technological advancements, this should cease to be the case.

Furthermore, Sony introduced its gaming equivalent to Netflix during this generation: PS Now. My thoughts on video game streaming aside, this subscription service takes miniscule strides towards genuine video game preservation.

“Pants”

Firstly, only PS2 and 4 games are subject to download, meaning that those wishing for classic PS1 and 3 experiences offline will need to search elsewhere. Secondly, the price associated with the service stands at an appalling £12.99 per month. Not even the admittedly large game collection – totalling over 600 – can serve as a significant enough distraction to entice one’s wallet.

With this in mind, how much better has Microsoft fared in terms of ensuring that the gamers of today can enjoy the gaming experiences of yesteryear? Much better, as a matter of fact. The western technology giant offers a subscription service of their own: Xbox Game Pass. Weighing in at a much more acceptable monthly cost of £7.99, this service also allows players to get their hands on the latest titles such as Crackdown 3 upon release, whenever that will be.

In addition, the Xbox Live Marketplace on Xbox One also allows players to purchase a wide array of games from Xbox’s back catalogue all the way from the original Xbox to the present day. However, the green ring icing on this oh so delicious cake is that players can also purchase N64 titles such as Turok as well as Xbox Live Arcade remastered classics such as the original Doom. For those who missed out on these retro experiences for one reason or another, this news should prompt collective, elated air punching. Just mind your surroundings.

“Leather Pants”

To Definity and Beyond!

After that showering of praise and positivity, it is but human nature to return to the ungodly realm of negativity. As briefly touched upon earlier, the ‘definitive edition’ saga may well go down in gaming history as one of the most infamous instances of unnecessary corporate consumerism. Should that day ever arrive, you heard it here first.

In an article on N4G, blogger garrettbobbyferguson offered a thoroughly intriguing insight into the matter. He stated that many of these remasters were released a relatively short time after their last-gen predecessors. To add further insult to the proverbial injury, the suits behind the re-releases had the audacity to label them as superior products. In turn, as garrettbobbyferguson essentially discusses, this leads to consumers who owned a ‘not-so-definitive’ copy of a game to feel cheated.

“Of All The Titles to Remaster?”

Gleefully returning to the positives, garrettbobbyferguson heralded the re-release of Journey as an outstanding example of how video game re-releases can aid video game preservation. For those unaware, Journey was a PS3 exclusive available for purchase on the PlayStation Store which saw an additional release to enable purchase and download on the PS4.

If this information is not yet capable of evoking amens and hallelujahs from you, dear reader, then allow me to state that the game was free for those who owned the PS3 original. In summary, PS3 owners would not feel cheated, and instead would feel as though they were receiving an equal experience to PS4 owners. The lack of a ‘definitive’ logo most certainly helped.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I thoroughly believe that remasters are integral to ensuring that the games we have enjoyed for generations can be enjoyed by future generations. However, the execution of these remasters is key. Providing a consumer with a service lacking in options and charging them more than they can afford is heinous.

So too is suggesting to a consumer that a game they purchased with their hard-earned dosh pales in comparison to the newer, sexier model. Instead, consumers should be permitted to indulge in a range of options without a hidden cost. Similar to how no cinephile should be denied the pleasure of viewing of Star Wars, no gamer should be denied the joys that the original Resident Evil 2 offers in spades.

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