Game philosophy: remasters as a reflection of the evolution of the game industry

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They are here with us and we see them more and more often. Remasters and remakes are becoming more and more popular. Why is that so?

In a review of the re-released original Dark Souls, we once made a passing comment on the term “remaster”. Since this is a phenomenon of the gaming scene especially in recent years, it will certainly not be out of place to return to this topic and explore it a little more in depth. What exactly is a remaster and how does it differ from a remake, what leads authors and publishers to such undertakings and do these projects actually have a more significant place in the gaming market today?

Remaster or remake?

First of all, let’s redefine what a remaster actually is and how it differs from a remake, since these two terms are often confused and for many, they merge. We are talking about a game remaster when the original game is re-released with various audio-visual improvements. Most often, this involves improving textures, increasing the resolution to Full HD or 4K, improving the framerate of games, implementing new effects, animations, etc. The original core of the game remains more or less unchanged in these cases. Of course, there may be slight corrections of original errors or some minor tweaks, but these are more cosmetic changes that come into consideration for various game anniversaries, etc.


The purpose of such remasters is to bring the given title back into the game for the lowest possible price tag and to remind players of the current generation on the current generation of consoles of its qualities. Remasters can also bring new sound effects, possibly richer soundtracks, etc. On this occasion, publishers often add all additional content as a bonus. It is of course not a matter of course, but it is a standard procedure that definitely helps to gain a wider game base. In addition, a remaster must always contain some added value.

In contrast, the remake represents a somewhat deeper intervention into the original title. It is not only a matter of fine-tuning, smoothing, modifying or making it more attractive, but often a complete remake of the given game. Animations, physics and game mechanics are being reworked. Games take on a new form, they are often designed as brand new titles. Interventions are sometimes really brutal and for this reason we can certainly label them as such. Camera views, game menus, and controls, for example, are often changed. The remake, however, understandably clings to its predecessor tooth and nail and tries to preserve the original spirit of the game, only the changes are often more pronounced. For this reason, remakes are a big risk, as they are not as conservative as compared to a remaster.


The boundaries between the two terms are not fixed and therefore confusion often occurs, especially in the case of “hybrids”. The question is, how far can a remaster go in order to still be called a remaster and what must a remake fulfill in order to be a remake? It is not possible to define a clear boundary, so we have to get used to using both of these terms.


Concepts and terms are one thing, meaning and use are another. Whether we are talking about a remaster or a remake, it is necessary to realize that developers and publishers do not deal with them simply because of the lack of work on other eventual projects. Those of you who follow the situation in the game market and the development of the last years have surely noticed the slowly forming trend of re-releases of older titles. Is behind this tendency the pursuit of relatively quick earnings, the decline of the game industry or perhaps the goodwill of their creators? Well, in my opinion, somehow everything together. First of all, we have to realize that even remastering a game takes a lot of time, not to mention a remake.


For example, the remake of Resident Evil 2 was announced by the Capcom studio back in 2015, but it was not released until the beginning of 2019. Of course, the work on it did not last four years, but it is certainly not a matter of one summer either. And as they say, not even a chicken digs for free, which is why every such project must definitely end in positive values. Yes, in the pluses, not at zero. This whole endeavor is therefore in any case directed towards the profit of studios and publishers. This is perhaps without discussion. And remasters or remakes are definitely not cheap for players. So, for example, the last Dark Souls will cost the player something like nine hundred, which is definitely not an insignificant amount. But okay, we understand everything. If the quality of the work performed corresponds to the requested price, nothing can be objected.


The second reason can certainly be the not exactly general situation as far as the current quality of games is concerned. Maybe I’m blaspheming, but I still think we’ve entered a slightly emptier period in gaming history. However, behind this fact is not the incompetence of the developers as such, but rather the somewhat dismal situation on the gaming scene. Here we have the issue of microtransactions, free to play models, game streaming, recently the future of single player campaigns is also being shaken up.


We must not forget the unclear future of the new generation of consoles, which is just starting to take off. And will it be the last generation, as evil tongues have been speaking lately? In short, there are many question marks and the gaming industry is at a crossroads. No one, but really no one, can currently predict the direction in which the situation will develop and what awaits us in five years. This bleak and schizophrenic situation is certainly not one in which key decisions for developers are made easily. Of course, dozens and dozens of game projects are still being created, the quality of which cannot be questioned, in any case, the mentioned uncertain future forms a great foundation for remastering older projects. And let’s be happy for it!


The third reason behind the re-release of older titles is certainly a friendly step towards the gaming community. After all, all the work does not end with the release of the game. Or she definitely shouldn’t. Even after its release, every quality game should include long-term support based on listening to players. The basis is certainly the release of DLC, various repair patches, etc. However, as we age, so do the games themselves, and therefore, from time to time, for those really key titles, it is necessary to offer the possibility to play the given piece again on better hardware. Taste your heart’s content even by today’s standards. It’s actually a nice thank you to the players for their loyalty and support.

Of course, we must not forget the expansion of the original game base. Not everyone played the original Dark Souls or Bioshock. However, their version from that time can smell quite old today and may not smell very good to current players. And that’s why there are remasters and remakes. Bringing the original experience to the current generation of consoles. Bringing the then aura of sanctity closer to today’s players and showing them where the legend that everyone talked about back then actually came from.


And then what about the so-called auxiliary springboard in the case of an upcoming sequel in some game series. Players who haven’t played the previous installments won’t be as massively interested in the emerging sequel as players who have played the entire series. So the remaster can serve as a springboard to the next sequel.

Yes or no

And so we come to the very conclusion of our reasoning and the answer to the question of whether remastering and remakes make sense in today’s gaming era. Yes, he certainly has. But nothing must be overdone, and such activity must be associated only with games that really deserve it and games for which it makes sense. We would not like to wait for the era of remasters, when remakes will be thrown at us without thinking. For now, this trend is still on track and within the right limits.

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