Gaming is a constantly evolving industry, which is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously, the blessing in this is that games are constantly looking better and are able to add so much to the experience that was barely fathomable ten or fifteen years ago. One of the curses of constant growth, however, is the need to update your gear (PC or consoles) in order to keep up with the latest and greatest.
Within the last 10 years or so, game companies have started remastering their greatest hit games in an effort to keep up with the constantly evolving market. You may not have a working NES anymore, but that’s okay - Nintendo has released the original Mario Brothers games in several different formats at this point!
But when is a remake actually a compelling buy? Let’s take a look at some instances.
Having it on a Current Console
With a lot of these games, many of them happen to be games we own already or have at the very least played once before. And yet, the convenience of having it on a current system that we use daily, or the promise of better graphics and maybe some added content, is enough of an allure to talk most people into buying the same game again, even though they already have a copy of it stashed somewhere for an older system.
I fully admit to having done this. There are several games that I have bought for PC or for a current console that I own, and could probably still run if I spent the time hooking up an old system - but, I wanted the convenience of having it easily available. In some instances, I bought a game for PC (even though I had it for a console) because I wanted to be able to stream it easily. I must own somewhere around 3 versions of Final Fantasy IX at this point!
Convenience can drive a lot of our decision-making processes, and remakes are definitely made to be convenient. I am even seeing a lot of games being remade and recrafted for mobile, which is a huge market and is all about convenience gameplay on the go.
One of the biggest appeals to a game remaster is usually how it looks. Many companies spend time updating graphics and improving processing times in order to make an old game look good on modern televisions and monitors.
I personally can’t tell much of a visual difference between most things (I don’t have the latest and greatest in screens, so it just isn’t a big deal for me), but there are lots of people out there who can. Updated graphics and a cleaner picture aren’t usually enough to pull me into re-purchasing a game - I’m going to need a little more incentive than just that.
In some cases, like in the above picture for the Final Fantasy VII remake, it's more than just "cleaning up" what exists - it's an entire overhaul of the look and feel of the game. This was definitely compelling enough for me to pick up, I admit.
Limited Time Offer
This right here? This will usually get me and is proof that marketing works. If there’s a game or something I really love and I am offered something for a limited time in order to acquire it, it’s usually enough to nudge me into a purchase.
When Nintendo released the trio of classic Super Mario games - Super Mario Galaxy, Super Mario 64, and Super Mario Sunshine - it caught my attention because I love those games. I didn’t think much of it - I do still have a working N64 and a Wii kicking around somewhere in my house - but then it was announced that the games would be available for the Switch only temporarily, and then would be returned to the vault.
This caught my attention. I suddenly had to make a decision about whether or not I wanted to grab the games for my Switch or risk them not re-releasing at a later time. The decision was quick, and now I have the three games for the Switch...but I still haven’t had a chance to play them yet. Go figure.
Limited time release is also how I ended up with an order for a special edition of the Monkey Island games - even though I own them in several formats already. But at least now I’ll have a Murray candle holder - muahahahaha!
This one is the biggest draw for me, and for lots of other people, too: new stuff! Sometimes a company will release a game and do more than just clean up graphics and correct annoying mechanics - they will actually add entirely new things into the game. This could be anything from special character skins to entirely new plot points or dungeons.
I sunk 140+ hours into Persona 5 and thought for sure I was done, even though they announced a new Royal edition coming just a few months after I finished my first playthrough. I didn’t think much of it, until they announced that not only were they making some pretty hefty quality of life changes, but also adding a whole new huge story element. ...Crap.
I resisted at first, but then quarantine hit and I had a ton of time on my hands, so I figured - what’s another 140 or so hours? Admittedly, it was absolutely worth it - the new stuff took an awesome game and somehow made it even better.
What’s your criteria for whether or not you buy into a remake? I’d like to hear from you!