There are real problems with remasters

There are several problems with all of these remasters being released and the ones on the horizon. Let's take a look at some of them, and what we can do about them.

Remasters are all the rage nowadays and show no signs of going away anytime soon. This E3 brought news of even more remasters, and we still have more of E3 to see. You can just look here at GameSkinny to see a number of articles concerning the topic of remasters posted within the past month alone. However, of these articles, only one by Elijah has expressed any qualms with the remaster practice, and he even urged players not to buy the new Uncharted Collection (an attitude I heartily echo).

Let me be frank, I have no issues with the idea of remasters or re-releases in general. However, like anything that is remotely profitable or good, in theory, it has been abused by the AAA world to the point of saturation. Right now, there are four main issues with “remasters” which I will delve into here:


  1. Most “remasters” are simply re-releases with the bare minimum of work invested into them pushed by greedy publishers eager to make a quick buck.
  2. Many of these “remasters” change bugger all from the original release, ship with missing content, or are inferior to the originals.
  3. Most “remasters” are being sold at ridiculous prices.
  4. The games that are getting the “remaster” treatment. 



1. “Remaster” is a false moniker

The process of remastering has its origins in the music world where new master recordings of songs are made in an effort to improve the quality of the sound. This was great for landmark albums released on vinyl or cassette or otherwise hard to track down, allowing fans new and old to experience albums which would otherwise be lost to the passage of time. With games, we have something completely different. Most games released under the moniker of a “remaster” are simply a re-release instead of an actual remaster. 

What exactly do I mean? Well if you go by the musical standard, most of these remastered games have the bare minimum of effort invested into them. They are usually a simple upscale in the resolution and framerate released onto the new consoles. That’s it.

Most games released under the moniker of a “remaster” are simply a re-release instead of an actual remaster.

There is no special treatment to these games being ported to a new console; they just make it playable in 1080p resolution and finally allow you to have 60 fps framerate on a console (took long enough).


The Last of Us Remastered was a game with an increased framerate and resolution. Yes, some additional content was added but was the game truly remastered? Not really.

Now let’s look at Homeworld Remastered Collection, this is an example of an actual remaster. If you compare the original game to the remaster, the difference is staggering.

So much of an upgrade it's hard to even tell it's the same game.

You can see the improvements made by the developers in bringing this classic to the modern age. They didn’t just make it look like a modern game though. They also improved the UI, gameplay, and multiplayer.

The team actually worked on this, and as a result, it is a substantial release able to compete with anything on the current market instead of a greedy cash grab.

2. This is even a remaster? 

This is perhaps the most egregious practice with the remaster craze: content missing or the remaster being inferior in quality to the original. The most infamous example of this is the Silent Hill HD Collection, and for damn good reason.

The SH Collection was not only inferior to the original games; it was also a dreadful release in its own right. The only code Konami only provided the developers was an unfinished build of games, resulting in all sorts of technical issues plaguing development and release. In fact, the issues were so prevalent, the game was so broken, and player outcry was so overwhelming that Konami actually came up with a replacement program for players who purchased this pile of drek. 

Another recent blot on the practice of re-releases is the Heroes of Might and Magic III: HD Edition. Not only does this release have plenty of its own technical issues, but it does not include the expansion packs.

Now, yes, expansions are not considered part of the main game, but considering this game is available on GOG.com with all of the expansions for less money than the HD version, this is a severe problem since the expansions add a lot to the experience.


What is the point of releasing these games if they are missing content or add nothing to the experience?

Again, like The Last of Us: Remastered bugger all was added to the experience. Sure some maps were added and an unnecessary Photo Mode was along for the ride, but was there anything that different between the original game and remaster? Elijah has already pointed out the Uncharted Collection will be shipping without the multiplayer and some other content found in the original games. What is the point of releasing these games if they are missing content or add nothing to the experience?

3. You want how much for this??

Another issue occurs when remasters are sold at the full retail price of $60. This is especially egregious when you consider missing content or bare additions to the original releases. The Uncharted Collection is selling for $60. $60 for a rehash of highly linear campaigns you have likely already played with no cooperative modes or multiplayer with the exception of the limited multiplayer beta for Uncharted 4.

So what in the hell are you paying for here? 1080p resolution? A 60 fps framerate? The Uncharted 4 beta? None of these justify the pricing of $60, especially when you look at remasters that are done correctly, like Metro: Redux.


Consider Metro Redux. 4A Games revisited Metro 2033 and not only brought the game up to date visually, they also added numerous fixes and gameplay improvements found in the sequel Metro: Last Light. For all of their work and improvements made, the Redux version of the games are being sold for $30 apiece and go on sale for quite a bit less. How can you justify asking $60 for an incomplete game with minimal effort invested when developers like 4A are actually pouring time and effort into a remaster and put an asking price of half that?

The same thing applies to Homeworld Remastered Collection. The developers completely remade not one, but two games, included the original, unaltered games as well as multiplayer and only asked $35 for their efforts. Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty is a complete, ethical remake of one of the most beloved games of all time and is being sold for $20.

If a greedy publisher wants to push a shell of an experience for $60, then by all means, please do. As consumers though, we need to speak with our wallets and not allow these hollow, over-priced products to be rewarded with success.


Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty set the bar for remasters. 

4. Can we at least remaster games that deserve it?

Let’s be honest, most of these games released as a remaster do not deserve the re-release. They may be good games or even great games, but do we really need a re-release of the Uncharted series (which is rubbish) or Dishonored (which was good, but so recent)? This E3 has brought news of Gears of War also receiving this treatment as well as Darksiders II.

What about the games which are classics or will be lost to the passage of time unless we set about preserving them?

 What about the games which are classics or will be lost to the passage of time unless we set about preserving them?

The release of the Silent Hill HD Collection and Heroes of Might and Magic III HD should show how important it is to preserve classic games. Both of these remakes suffered because the source code could not be found. Remasters could be a way to prevent this problem by preserving the original experience as well as bringing classics up to speed for modern gamers. Forget Borderlands, Uncharted, and Gears of War, why can’t we get more remasters of things like Thief, Legacy of Kain, or Day of the Tentacle?


I understand there are licensing and rights issues that stem from these projects.

However, we have seen remasters of Homeworld, Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, and Grim Fandango. Classics games can and should be preserved for generations to come. The recent P.T. debacle has shown the problems with a digital distribution system where a publisher can revoke our access to a work of art if they please. Remasters could prevent this problem, but we should be remastering classics instead of rehashing games that have yet to be potty trained, much less hit puberty.

 The recent P.T. debacle has shown the problems with a digital distribution system where a publisher can revoke our access to a work of art if they please.

At the end of the day, I like the idea of remasters, and game preservation is important to keep classics that could be lost to the passage of time. Like all good ideas though, we have seen this great idea used by greedy publishers to make a quick buck and constantly rehash properties. Games are being released with no effort invested or in broken states. These practices are unacceptable and should not be encouraged. Instead of buying the Uncharted Collection or Gears of War Ultimate Edition, we should support worthy remastering projects such as Homeworld and Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty. Until we show we won’t support these practices, they will continue.

Now how about some Legacy of Kain & Soul Reaver in HD, eh?

Published Jun. 18th 2015
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