Lately I’ve seen a lot of hostility floating around the subject of HD remakes. Many seem to have all kinds of reasons to utterly hate them, labeling them as ripoffs or denouncing them as a waste of resources that should be used to develop “legit” games (whatever this may mean). This, to me, sounds incredibly silly.
Let’s get the “no one is holding you at gunpoint to buy them” argument out of the way. It’s definitely sound and true, but it’s beside the point; HD remakes are not just harmless, but they actually have a positive impact on both the industry and gaming in general.
The first and most prominent positive effect of HD remakes is as simple as their primary function, making older classics available and playable on newer platforms. New gamers are born every day, as they move from Hot Wheels and Barbies to their first Playstation 3 or Xbox 360. Every new generation of platforms counts millions of users that never owned the consoles of the previous generation.
Backwards compatibility is not always available and older classics simply go out of print, but even when backward compatibility is present and there are plenty copies available for sale (preowned or otherwise), vintage titles still aren’t very accessible to newer generations of gamers for the simple fact that they aren’t marketed and advertised anymore, and as such many of them simply aren’t known to those that joined our ranks only recently.
New gamers aren’t the only ones that benefit from HD remakes, as even veteran gamers often break their older consoles (wear and tear happens), lose or damage their old discs, or maybe would like to play a classic, but are turned off by the low resolution on their shiny new Full HD Led screen.
By granting access to older classics to younger gamers or veteran ones that otherwise couldn’t or wouldn’t play them, HD remakes help preserve the history of gaming, extending the exposure and memory of the many games that deserve to be played well beyond the generation they belong to.
What would happen to literature if publishers stopped reprinting the Divine Comedy, the Iliad, the Lord of The Rings or Shakespeare? Timeless classics would slowly but inexorably fade out of people’s memory, and would become a privilege for few that wouldn’t even read them in order to avoid ruining them.
The same applies to games. What would happen if Square Enix didn’t remake Final Fantasy IV over and over with every passing generation? How many younger gamers would have missed the poetic and epic adventures of Cecil and Rosa? That would have become an obscure treat for those that still own a Super Nintendo (and are willing to risk the worn-out integrity of both console and cartridge every time they play with them) or dabble with emulators.
A popular argument against HD remakes is that they help the “evil” publishers make money with little effort and on top of that they subtract resources from the development of “legit” new games. Not only does this not make the slightest bit of sense, but is also illogical as the two parts conflict with each other.
First of all, when did a game publisher making money become a bad thing? And if publishing HD remakes requires little effort and limited resources, what are they exactly subtracting for the development of new games and IPs?
The opposite is actually true. Every dollar, euro and yen made by spending limited resources on publishing HD reviews benefits gaming and gamers as much as it benefits the evil corporations themselves. It’s true that a percentage of those dollars, euros and yen will go to inflate the pockets of executives and investors, but it’s equally true and inevitable that the remaining percentage will be reinvested in the industry, effectively funding and supporting the development of other games, many of which will be new.
An undeniable truth of business is that companies can’t afford taking risks without a solid financial base, and low-risk projects like HD remakes are invaluable in creating and bolstering that financial base. Thanks to those, publishers can afford taking risks by creating new IPs and developing high budget new games.
Again, the analogy with literature still stands. By investing limited resources in reprinting their back catalog of classics, publishers earn low-risk money that can be then reinvested in higher-risk projects like supporting and paying new writers and publishing new books.
It’s exactly the same. Those HD remakes many of you despise so much, contribute to create the solid financial foundation upon which future AAA hits will be built. They benefit the industry because they provide a low-risk revenue to balance high-risk projects that often topple whole companies (and then we get no more games from them, new or otherwise), they benefit gaming as a whole because they preserve the history of our hobby, and they benefit us, the gamers, not only because they grant us access to titles we couldn’t or wouldn’t play otherwise, but also because they fund the creation of those new, shiny big games that we want so much.
I rest my case.