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The 60-Dollar Dilemma: What Price is Fair for Rereleased Games?

While some remakes have been incredible, others feel like a cash grab. What signifies a fair rerelease, and how should we view them?

The 2023 Dead Space Remake.
Credit: EA Games

In the current state of the video game industry, companies have a repeated habit of rereleasing games. While some remakes have been incredible, others feel like more of a lazy cash grab. Why can Capcom remake Resident Evil 4, achieving success, while Konami’s Silent Hill HD Collection left a sour taste in fans’ mouths?

To begin, we must first define the 3 main categories of rereleases- ports, remasters, and remakes.

Ports

Ports are definitively the most low-effort way for companies to make money. A port consists of moving a game from one console to another with no real improvements (generally). If that sounds lazy, that’s because… it is! Nowadays, consoles are pretty symmetrical in their design, and everything that could be run on a console can (for the most part) be run on a PC. However, back in the day, inter-generational consoles had pretty different specs and were capable of numerous different things. This led to a lot of bad ports, like Skyrim on PS3 or Doom on the SEGA Saturn. Considering ports are pretty lazy now, with little to no improvements gracing the game between versions, there is no real reason to own multiple copies of a game.

The Good Port

In retrospect, Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition for the Wii U set the example for what a good port could be. An already awesome game, it’s now playable with added enhancements that took advantage of the Wii U gamepad. Checking the bat computer on your controller was a lot of fun as a child, and if you have read my article on the Dreamcast, you should already know I was (and still am) a fan of the Wii U gamepad. The small changes gave original fans a reason to buy it and experience it anew but were not enough to make them feel guilted into what is essentially a 60-dollar replay. Launching at 60 dollars and including previously released DLC, I would consider it a relatively fair price.

Batman: Arkham City Armoured Edition
Credit: Nintendo

The Wide-spanning “Remaster”

Taking the port a step further, a remaster is built around reintroducing a game to the newest generation. A lot of the time, we see hit games brought from one console to the next, utilizing its new technology. Unlike ports, these rereleases usually have a big ol’ “REMASTERED” label signaling its superiority. Remasters are (generally) more involved from the developer, and feel less like a drag-and-drop port. In the 2000s, the shift from eras PS1 to PS2 to PS3 was drastic, and the improvements between generations were huge. These shifts allowed for some truly amazing remasters, but also brought some real sucky “HD” collections.

Silent Hill 2 HD's iconic Comic Sans.
Credit: Konami

Notoriously, the Silent Hill HD Collection was a remaster that helped kill a franchise (and shut down a studio!). Konami’s intrinsic negligence led to a “remaster” missing some essential aspects from its original release. Fog is nowhere to be found, frames were dropped, and signage was written in comic-sans. For years to come, these “remasters” were the only entryway for new fans. Throwing new players into an overall shitty experience did nothing but push it further into obscurity.

As fun as it is to throw tomatoes at Konami’s persistent failures, they did produce an incredible remaster: The Metal Gear Solid HD Collection.

The Ultimate Remaster

To remaster two already perfect games was a tough task, but Bluepoint Studios treated the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection with the respect it deserved. To expect that Konami does anything with their IPs is foolish, but handing MGS over to Bluepoint was genius. Metal Gear Solid 2 and 3 were reintroduced with detailed graphics, a better frame rate, and more camera options, all of which improved an already great game. This remaster was released at 40 dollars, an astoundingly low price considering Konami’s habit of milking the consumer. Bluepoint’s work on MGS 2 and 3 forged an example for the future of remasters.

If Konami learned from their success, they would have put a lot more work into the Silent Hill HD Collection.

Metal Gear Solid HD Collection
Credit: Sony

Introducing the “Ground-up” Remake

In modern times, the term “remake” has become very popular within the video game industry. Consoles have enough power to create a completely different experience, so companies are taking full advantage of this. 2000s games are remade from the ground up, creating a similar albeit very different experience. The ethics of a remake have been long in discussion, and I tend to agree that the practice is not perfect. “Remade” games are often lauded as the best way to play, which is completely subjective.

Silent Hill 2 Remake
Credit: Konami

The historical superficiality of “new=best” can convince gamers to skip the first release. As much as we should look forward to the Silent Hill 2 remake, the original was a truly unique, inexplicable experience. Remakes, despite releasing for the maximum price, are more valid as they require more work. The main problem that remakes have presented is the continued neglect of older video games. We can soon experience Silent Hill 2 in high definition, but the camera angles and lost grittiness simply will not be replicated.

No Bad Remakes?

To consider a remake bad, I feel it must lose sight of what the original set out to accomplish. While some feel too different for comfort, a lot of them are made by thoughtful people taking the original vision into account. The remake is undeniably a different experience, but should not be drawn in a separate circle.

The Dead Space Necromorph.
Credit: EA

In a landscape littered with pointless cash grabs, it is up to the consumer to stay educated. We need more accessibility to peer back into video game history and remakes only exemplify this. If we lived in a perfect world, every copy of Dead Space would include the PS3 version.

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