Why should I buy your game again?

Why should I buy your game again?

Tim: This current generation of consoles was touted to be the dawn of a new age. An age of games that would push the boundaries of what we, as console gamers, have known for the better part of the last decade. Among the launch titles there were a few gems, notably the massive number of onscreen zombies in Dead Rising 3 and the visually stunning Killzone: Shadowfall. Not long after launch, we were steered down a dark path of HD remakes and re-releases, many of which are nothing more than a “Game of the Year Edition.”

Seeing the ever-increasing number of these re-releases has caused me to ask myself – why should I buy this game again? They often come across as just a lazy cash grab. Take Saints Row 4: Re-elected, for example. It’s simply Saints Row 4 with all the DLC on the new consoles. No extras, no incentives, just a re-release. Another example is the recently announced Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, which includes Borderlands 2 and Borderlands: The Pre sequel as well as all the associated DLC. My issue with this re-release is that Borderlands: The Pre Sequel was only released in the latter half of last year. It’s not like there’s been a massive gap between Borderlands games and that people are screaming out for more. I remember the days when developers actually worked on new Intellectual Property (IP) instead of slapping on a few high-res textures and trying to sell a title back in to the same generation of gamers that bought the original.

Am I right, or am I just a grumpy old man?

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Andy: I think you could be a grumpy old man, Tim. The jury is still out on that, though. Firstly, nobody is forcing you to buy these upgraded versions.

I’m a fairly cynical person, but I’m not cynical about re-releasing games, or providing an ‘HD upgrade’ to a game. As a film lover first and a gamer second, I’ve always looked at the eternally evolving film formats as a worrying trend, and that smaller films will become lost over time. The change from VHS to DVD to Blu-ray and now streaming rights means that smaller films once released on VHS have not, and possibly will not, ever make the move to Blu-ray or streaming services. What does this have to do with games? Well, I’ve always feared that games would go down the same path.

So, for me, the ability to have games as widely available on as many platforms as possible is imperative. If it means that a game like Beyond Good & Evil receives a slight HD upgrade so that new generations can play it, or allowing a game like Saints Row IV to arrive on current-gen consoles, then console owners have games to play while waiting on the new blockbusters. The main point, though, is maintaining gaming history by allowing previous generations games to be available on as many platforms as possible. Would you pick up a remastered version of an N64 game if you missed it the first time round?

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Tim: Sure I would. Some of my fondest memories of gaming are from the N64 era, but I think there’s a lot more merit in revisiting the N64 era compared to a game that came out a year or two ago. Revisiting an older game – that is, one from a few generations ago – gives those of us who played it when we were younger a chance to get a good dose of nostalgia, and provides the new generation of gamers a chance to play the games that set the foundations of those they play today.

I get sick of seeing a new announcement by a developer, thinking they’ve been putting their time and effort into some new IP for a change, only to find out it’s Borderlands: The Handsome Collection. No extra content, no graphics upgrade, just essentially the “Game of the Year Edition.” I guess the reason it bugs me so much is the fact that they could be using the resources that they put into the cheap cash grab and utilise them elsewhere. I believe a developer should provide a reason to shell out again for a game that’s not that old. Something beyond barely updated graphics and DLC. 4A games reworked their entire game engine for the Metro 2033: Redux and made it play like a different game. What did you make of The Handsome Collection’s announcement?

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Andy: I understand why you would be frustrated, because you, along with many other people, would want a new Borderlands game. I get it. But the benefit in re-releasing a game like Borderlands on new gen consoles is that the developers have a chance to understand these new consoles a bit better. They get to reconfigure the whole game for the PS4 or XBone. Sure, at its core, it’s the exact same game, but the developers have a better understanding of how the consoles work – which essentially means they’re able to provide a brand spanking new Borderlands/Assassin’s Creed/Tomb Raider/Insert Franchise Of Desire Here sooner.

But, again, it all boils down to the fact that nobody is forcing you to buy these new versions. Given how hard it is to make a successful game, it makes complete sense to have your game available on as many consoles as possible. With there being 10 million PS4’s in homes, that’s 10 million possible sales for a re-released version of Borderlands, or – your game of the year – Metro: Last Light. I see no issue with a developer taking another opportunity to make more money. In fact, I would suggest looking at re-releases on new gen consoles as ‘delayed same date releases’. It’s no different to Activision releasing the new version of Call of Duty on every single console – except in these instances, the release for one set of consoles is six months later than the others.

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Tim: I actually don’t want a new Borderlands game. They’ve flogged that dead horse enough. I want them to be creating something new. Porting a game gives them a chance to work with a new console for sure, but it’s not a fantastic use of their time and not that great a learning experience for their staff. They would be much better off designing something specifically for the new generation of consoles.

You can argue that they aren’t forcing you to buy it, but by allocating their resources to these projects they kind of are. Most developers don’t have the capacity to split themselves between multiple projects, and using Gearbox Software as an example, they are only working on 2 things that we know of. One is a PC-exclusive called Battleborn and The Handsome Jack collection. So in this instance, if you’re a console player then this re-release is the only option they are providing you with. I know there are other developers, but there are an increasing amount doing these re-releases and therefore they are limiting the options for us, the gamers. If you had a choice between Ubisoft re-releasing a Rayman game or making a new one, which would you prefer?

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Andy: Oh for sure, I’d love a new Rayman game; however, as a fan of the series – and a fan of platformers – I’ll take a re-released version of Rayman over nothing at all. In fact, the point I was going to make was Guacamelee!’s re-release on the PS4 felt like a brand new game, with the inclusion of extra levels and extra moves, which made it a worthwhile replay. And I guess that’s an argument against re-releasing a game – why do it unless you’re at least going to add something new? Even if it means bundling all the DLC together on one disc, then that’s at least something new.

With that said, there are some games that shouldn’t be re-released, or rather, re-imagined for a HD world. Take Lode Runner, for example. I grew up playing the 8-bit version on PC and love it to bits. When I got my Xbox 360, I saw that there was a re-imagined HD version of Lode Runner, so grabbed it straight away. It was horrible. It failed to transfer the elements of the original game to the modern world, and this tarnished the feeling of the original game. The remade version of GoldenEye did the same thing – a re-release/remake of a game that everyone wanted, but nobody played.

Wrapping up, I understand your point that developers spreading their projects across teams results in fewer new games, and in a year like 2014 that lack of new games really sticks out. 2014 will go down as the year of the re-release. That’s why I think that once these new IP’s and new games start trickling out in the next year, people will complain about re-releases even more. Well… I hope that people will complain less, to be honest – because dammit, I don’t mind these re-releases, it’s what I want.

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Andrew is a bearded film loving idiot who runs The A & B Film Podcast with his wife as well as talks about games every so often. Sometimes he knows stuff, most of the time he’s an idiot. Tim is a huge FPS and RPG fan so that’s where his reviewing biases lie. He plays a bit of competitive online shooters but also really enjoys playing co op.

  • Dave C Haldane

    Gee are you guys primarily console gamers by any chance? Lol. I can still play most of my old PC games on my current PC and, thanks to sites like GOG and Greenman, can re-grab old favourites if my 5 1/4″ FDD doesn’t work in my laptop.

    To an extent I agree with both of you. I don’t like thinking of developers “wasting time” with HD upgrades of games that aren’t that old however I ONLY care about that if they’re doign that instead of new stuff… which I’m not 100% sure is the case.

    Ideally I’d just rather everyone made their stuff backwards compatible like Nintendo almost do. Have a virtual console to re-download your old favs or just make the discs playable where the format is the same.

    This, of course, assumes a consumer focus and, let’s face it, the companies making these HD remasters are probably more concerned with continuing sales and financial viability rather than enabling the consumer to play old shit that doesn’t make them money any more. There’s a small percentage of people to whom backwards compatibility will be a selling point (I’m one of those) but I’d put money on those being the minority.

    … or are you guys just annoyed about the Handsome Jack Collection as that seemed to be the focus 😉

  • Dave C Haldane

    Also there are mountains of new and original games being published! I’d bet, if you did a quick survey, the percentage of re-releases would be comparatively very tiny

    • Sure, but for some reason the argument about re-releases is one of the most prevalent discussions lately. When you have a year like 2014 which is full of new gen re-releases, I can understand that argument when all you want to do is play new IP’s or games with your new console. Which is where playing games that aren’t AAA titles and HD upgrades – yes, mostly indie titles – shows a whole new side of gaming. I love a year like 2014 because it’s a year that wasn’t about AAA titles, but instead showed that indie titles weren’t just a sort of game that Tim whinges about, but an actual great alternative to those bigger games.

      (And yes, I’m mostly talking about console gaming here.)

  • Timothy Lee Paterson

    The percentage is small but if you consider the new generation of consoles there’s an increasing amount of re releases and HD remakes, and not a huge amount of exclusive/first party games.
    I am primarily a console gamer and I loved the Wii U’s backwards compatibility and I wish MS and Sony had taken a leaf out of their book and made it so I can play my old games on my new console. But alas, they are finding more ways to squeeze money out of us instead, especially with the PS now service Sony is offering

    • Dave C Haldane

      In 2015 we’ve had 19 games release, one of which was a HD remake (Resident Evil). That’s just under 5%. Still means 95% new games though 🙂

      • Timothy Lee Paterson

        Shutup with your “facts” Dave

  • Greg Newbegin

    Personally, I don’t think remakes are made with the intention of people REplaying them – there were a lot of folks that either weren’t part of the previous generation, or have simply switched from Xbox to PlayStation (or vice versa) and have thus missed out on a bunch of great titles. Sure, I bet they’re also banking on a bunch of hardcore fans grabbing it for a second playthrough, but I think the intentions are pretty solid overall… Although they would be eliminated by allowing backwards compatibility.

    But backwards compatibility doesn’t sell new software, and that’s the point, I think…

    • Timothy Lee Paterson

      I would agree with you, however a lot of the games being re released were cross platform, so switching which console you were on is irrelephant

      • Greg Newbegin

        I was specifically referring to Last of Us in that case. The point is, there are a lot of folks that missed out on the previous gen, or are upgrading from Wii U, or just missed some of those games – that’s who they are aimed at. Personally, I missed Last of Us, Borderlands, and Tomb Raider and if I was going to try them, I’d DEFINITELY buy on next gen.

        • Dave C Haldane

          So you hold off until it’s cheap then buy the spennasive version? You strange

          • Greg Newbegin

            Never said I held off until cheap, I just said I never played them. I’m not pulling out my x360 or PS3 again just because I found a bargain.

            (That said, my PS3 and x360 are still plugged into my TV, they just don’t get used because… they old. Yep, I’m ageist against consoles.)

        • Exactly – it’s having the ability for people who buy new consoles to jump into what are considered some modern classic games without having to buy the old console. Sure, the discussion about backwards compatability comes into it, but we all know that’s just not going to happen with XBone or PS4 – which I’m fine with, my SNES was never able to play NES games and I didn’t complain about it then as I’m not going to complain about it now.

  • Dave C Haldane

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