It seems like video game companies are churning out HD remasters like it’s 1999! Just recently, Capcom released the Resident Evil: Origins collection which bundles together the Gamecube titles Resident Evil 0 and Resident Evil HD. Are these titles over saturating the market, or are they a blessing to younger gamers that didn’t get a chance to play these games on their original console?
HD remasters are bad for the industry. While I’m happy I get to try and play Resident Evil 0 again (the only Resident Evil I’ve not beaten), it saddens me that Capcom wasted precious development time. I would much rather have the folks at Capcom working on a brand new, next generation Resident Evil or Onimusha games instead of rehashing older, almost forgotten titles. I have more than enough older games that I already need to get through without their HD counterpart adding another version to play. The industry needs to come up with newer and fresher ideas instead of looking back two console generations and resurrecting some survival horror, pun intended.
It’s no surprise that immediately after denouncing HD remasters, you say you’re happy to play one. That’s the attitude of many gamers out there! It’s easy to criticize studios and call them lazy for producing remasters, but the fact of the matter is, remaking most of these games is actually quite a bit of work. Sure, they aren’t starting from scratch like with other games, but most remasters today are more than simple graphical upgrades. They often include more features as well. Plus, while it may be tough for many gamers to comprehend, they might not be the intended audience for every game, especially when it comes to remasters! Remasters are for people who have a nostalgic love for a title that they may want to revisit in an upgraded fashion, or for people (like yourself) who maybe never were able to play or finish a certain title and now don’t own the platform to play the original!
It is true I do have an insatiable love for all things Resident Evil, and own almost every copy and remaster to date from them. It is an OCD thing, not an “I love remasters” thing. I always worry they’ll add things like they did in Code Veronica X, and I’ll miss a nice new story piece. That love for Resident Evil shouldn’t take away from the fact that I would MUCH prefer to be playing a NEW Resident Evil game. Take a look at the Mega Man: Legacy Collection. Capcom forked over some good money to re-re-re-re-release a bunch of Mega Man games everyone has already played. I would have much preferred the cancelled Mega Man: Legends 3D game they were working on. Take the capital you spent on the Collection and pump that into Legends and you’ll please many more customers and die hard fans. It just seems to me that the industry is running out of fresh ideas. Instead of promoting fresh ideas at the developer level, companies are telling them to make the next Call of Duty, where I would rather have the next Deadly Premonition. This lack of imagination at the top trickles down, and they make a quick buck remastering older games that we all love and thought were great. It’s all because they can’t touch that magic anymore; this trend is sad and scary for the industry.
Don’t blame HD remasters for the lack of originality permeating the industry. The root of that problem is a much deeper issue, intrinsic to every meeting of art and big business. Game publishers are essentially investors and one thing investors hate is risk. Why put a ton of money behind a brand new, unknown IP when you can put your money behind a game you know will sell? Like, for instance, an HD remaster of a game that has already sold millions? You can’t really blame investors for taking the safe bet; it’s how the industry is structured. While this short-sightedness does hurt creativity, crowdsourcing and the indie game sector are bringing about positive change. Also, I too suffer from the dreaded compulsions of a nostalgic completionist. But let’s be honest, this chronic need to purchase every game in a series is self-imposed. It doesn’t really matter why people are buying remasters. The important fact is that they ARE buying them. Ranting and raving about it online falls on deaf ears. If consumers really want to put an end to it, they need to show some restraint and speak to publishers in their native language, through the universal interpreter known as the wallet.
As nice as it would be to get everyone to stop buying Call of Duty and go for original titles, it isn’t going to happen. There are too many casual gamers out there who only buy things like COD and Madden. Therefore, originality is halted and hardcore gamers like myself are meant to suffer. Maybe I’m the only one who fondly remembers the humor games we used to have. We don’t get games like Dr. Muto or The Bard’s Tale anymore; we’re hit with remastered games we’ve already purchased and remakes of “man shooter” titles. I totally understand the business end of things, it is what I went to school for, but soon the market will pop. People will grow tired of “man shooters,” and indie games aren’t going to cut it. Look at all the studios we have lost of late: Midway, Sierra, and Atari for God’s sake. Our hobby is busting at the seams with “man shooters,” but I’d give up all those remasters for an original game.
Don’t hate the game, hate the player! If there wasn’t a demand for HD remasters and “man shooter” titles, the supply would dry up. If that’s what the average consumer wants, who are we to tell them they’re wrong? The glut of unoriginality is disheartening, but it’s silly to think we’re facing something like the Video Game Crash of 1983. Video games are too much of an established medium for something like that to happen again. Just look at television. The traditional concept of cable television is going the way of the dinosaur. But, the medium itself isn’t going extinct; it’s evolving into something new. Streaming services are replacing cable packages and new original programming is rising above the manure of old television. This same process is in its infancy in gaming, and I believe that indie games and crowdfunding are spearheading that evolution. The structure of the industry may change, but it’s only going to change for the better. Along the way, I’ll be more than happy to buy the occasional HD remaster.