Rereleases and remakes have absolutely dominated many aspects of media over the last… forever. For many years, movies have been reimagined, characters have been given new purposes, comic book heroes have been given new arcs, and games have been recreated with newer and more modern gameplay mechanics. Doing all of this isn’t cheap, and it definitely can’t be done with free labor but it’s a trend that we have seen time and time again; especially more recently. In the year 2023 alone, we have received seven different remasters and remakes including Rise of the Triad, GoldenEye 007, Like a Dragon: Ishin!, Metroid Prime, Resident Evil 4, Advance Wars 1+2: Re-Boot Camp, and Dead Space.
Most of these titles did spectacularly well, with Resident Evil 4 being only one of many remakes of the original games in the series. This is also the same with the Like a Dragon series as the Yakuza series as we know it on modern consoles are remakes of the PlayStation 2 versions.
What is the difference between a remake and a remaster?
Sometimes, the difference between a remake and a remaster can be a bit confusing. A remake is any game that carries the same (or a similar) name, themes, and most if not all of the characters of a previously released, original game. In some cases, like with the 2018 Prey, the remake could have nothing at all to do with the original game save for a few, thematic aspects. A remaster is the same original game, but with added features to fit with modern audiences such as revised music, recolored textures, and so on. Some might even refer to remaster as a rerelease, which is also technically correct.
One of my favorite, albeit confusing, examples of a remake is the 2018 God of War. While it isn’t really a remake at all, it defines a new chapter in Kratos’ life that is deemed worthy of essentially restarting his journey to newer and older fans. The very first game in the series, God of War, was released in 2002 and discusses Kratos’ story from a Spartan warrior who was betrayed by Ares, the god of war, thus defeating and becoming the god of war himself. This story spans across six games, with three of them being main installments to the franchise: God of War, God of War 2, God of War 3, God of War: Ghost of Sparta, God of War: Chains of Olympus, and God of War: Ascension.
The PlayStation 4 God of War takes the same name as the game that started the series, but moves forward with a completely established character rather than a new one. In this game, Kratos’ previous family, his journey through sacrifice, and the suffering he has endured are evident from the very beginning, and even more so for longtime fans. However, players can enjoy the 2018 God of War without having played the previous ones at all, which is partly why I consider it a remake.
A remaster is something more along the lines of what we received when Age of Empires released again in the early 2010’s. It was the same game, but with updated visuals and features.
Do More Players Want Remakes/Remasters Over New IPs?
It’s hard to really answer that question. In many scenarios, including television and film, the discussion tends to start off with whether or not the idea will work based on previous experiences. We tend to see a lot of sequels or prequels for that reason because it was already established that the original was well-received and worth creating something more out of. So, releasing something that is already known to have done well seems like a no-brainer.
However, over the last decade, it seems that players themselves have been interested in older IPs that they are more familiar with. Whenever a showcase or direct happens, it seems like more and more developers are reviving older classics either as sequels or remakes/remasters. That, and the amount of fans that are excited about something familiar instead of something new, is hard to ignore.
My gut tells me that yes, players want more remakes and remasters to show that the only thing that can limit a game is when it was released. It also grants an opportunity to recreate the entire franchise again, like what Capcom is doing with Resident Evil or Sega with Like a Dragon! Lastly, remakes and remasters bridge the visual gap that some players are faced with when it comes to having to play through titles that aren’t easily accessible in order to understand lore or context.
I also feel as though game development is just too difficult to risk creating something that players won’t instantly love. In most cases, the community is right there, filled with excitement from the moment of announcement whereas newer titles need to wait for gameplay footage or community testing before someone feels like they can have a valid opinion on it. That being said, there are also a ton of brand new IPs that have absolutely stolen the year as game of thee year for countless players.
What are your thoughts on new game releases versus remasters/remakes?