Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Opinion: Re-Releases, No One Understands Them

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dt_remasteredThis weekend I sat down and spent some time with Fahrenheit: Indigo Prophecy Remastered and while the responses were mixed, it dawned on me that no one – publishers, developers, gamers – has a clue as to what they want out of a re-release.  It sounds funny and foolish at first, but the concept of the re-release has, in recent years, become quite the quandary.  As a fan of the past and games of those time periods, I can’t say that I even know what I want and this shines light on the daunting task of trying to make sound business decisions around it.  Furthermore, the vocal minority don’t often account for the way sales work out, and often times, are the exact opposite of what actual sales data states.  Couple all of this with the stubbornness, and I do mean that term specifically, of gamers who would rather a publisher waste time to bring an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 game to the Xbox One or Playstation 4 simply because they didn’t hang on to their old system is – in an exaggerated overstatement – a sin.  To be clear I’m not even talking about games like The Last of Us Remastered or Halo: The Master Chief Collection, because at least those games were redone and improved upon visually, but rather direct ports of simple games like the arcade port of Double Dragon on XBLA coming to Xbox One.  It’s a waste of time and it won’t generate more than a few thousand sales, stop wasting everyone’s time asking for it.

rygar_ps4This all stems from an interesting call to action marketing e-mail I received from my Japanese PSN account, asking me to visit this link, log in, and tell Sony what arcade classics I would like to have brought to PS4.  Keep in mind that it’s all from Japan’s PSN, which has seen a slew of arcade games ported to PS4 (known as Arcade Archives) from the Hamster Corporation including Rygar, Wonder Boy, Double Dragonand quite a few more.  Now so far the only games of this series to come to the US was Rygar and it has been said that when Gradius releases that we will see it too, but for the most part this is a Japan-only series.  The meaning of this poll is twofold for us in the US: it will probably only be for Japan and it is limited to 80s and potentially 90s arcade ports.  This is clear from what has already released and from knowing a bit about past deals involving Virtual Console, PSOne PSN releases, Xbox’s Game Room, licensing rights, and various other factors.  Of course that doesn’t stop plenty of gamers, including a bunch of English speaking and presumably US gamers based on the requests, from flooding this thread and plenty of others on sites covering this thread with unrealistic and frankly stupid requests.  I’ve seen it all and when you break down the reality of some of these requests it’s laughable.  Here’s my breakdown of some of the more unrealistic and completely thoughtless requests and why they won’t happen.

Licensing Nightmares: WWF Wrestlefest – there’s no way the title or the now sadly deceased personas that make up a brunt of this list will ever come out, furthermore it wasn’t that popular in Japan.  Robocop – this is a justified heavy request but if it didn’t happen in the Data East Arcade Collection on Wii, I’m betting it’s a licensing nightmare.  Aliens – this little known arcade port from James Cameron’s fantastic action follow-up features some goofy graphics, a giraffe-like queen, and the notable flamethrower…it’s also never going to get through Ripley licensing, trust me.  The list continues with movie licenses, comics, and even licenses that have come and gone like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The crowd doesn’t care it came out last gen, they want it in this gen now too, who cares if the games are now pulled from their respective stores due to license agreements pulling them down.

t2-afterburner-2

How: There’s nothing funnier than people wanting a game but having no idea how they would play it.  Here are few of my favorite examples.  Time Crisis: uh, how are you going to get the light gun to work? Don’t say Move or new hardware, either, they tried that on PS3 and it was a critical failure with either attempt. T2: Judgement Day – licensing issues aside, people seem to desperately want this game and they want it intact with light gun support.  I’ll give it to them, Move can be an option for the 100 people than own them and want to take the time to get it all synced on a PS4, but in all reality you’re shooting yourself in the foot and all for a game you can’t get past level 2 on.  Time Traveler – so you want Sega’s holographic arcade game that was a pure crap FMV title save for the hologram?  How in the world do you expect Sony to integrate full holographic visuals at a price people will pay?  Afterburner II – in all fairness this may actually happen, but you aren’t getting a flight stick or vertically rotating chair and the guy who requested it only seems to remember that about this game.

battletoads_arcadeAre You Even Paying Attention: As a decent student in school, following the directions and answering the question I’m asked, especially when it comes to product marketing free research, is important.  These people obviously were just dreaming in the clouds and figured what the hell.  BattleToads, Donkey Kong, Popeye, Killer Instinct, Mario Kart, etc – all of these titles have a simple problem that will prevent them from ever coming to the PS4: they are owned by a competitor, ain’t gonna happen.  Rival Schools, DoDonPachi, Golden Axe, Street Fighter (any of them), Darkstalkers (any), Mortal Kombat (any), etc – I don’t know if these are US people that don’t know better or if they are really expecting Sony to do triple duty, but all of these games (and many other requests) are available on the PSN right at this moment either as a download or as a PSOne classic, most of them also working on PSP and Vita.  You already have them, they aren’t going to port them again, even for the PS4 only crowd.  Resident Evil 1-6, Gauntlet Legends 1080p HD Remaster, Black, Spawn (PS2 version, not arcade, he specifically states this), and too many more to count – the fond memories I have for playing the original Resident Evil in the arcades are too many to count, not to mention my love for the cabinet version of the PS2/Xbox title Black, and let’s not forget the fantastic HD Remastering of Gauntlet Legends.  Oh, you don’t know these versions or ports?  Well that’s because THEY DON’T EXIST.  At this point I was rolling my eyes at how far fetched people were going to answer a simple call to action on arcade games.  Guys, Midway is dead, Gauntlet Legends, especially after the terrible sales of the recent title, is never getting an HD Remaster and it  wouldn’t sell well if it did.

So there you have it, clear indication that gamers have no idea what they want and wouldn’t be able to properly communicate that to developers/publishers even if they did.  If I ask you what fruit you want for breakfast and you say “lobster”, I can’t work with that.  This isn’t to say publishers are clear of this either.  Look at Square, who has issues HD remakes of every last gen western game they released near the end like Tomb RaiderSleeping Dogs, and even a slew of Final Fantasy titles.  They aren’t alone, the same goes for Capcom, Sony, Microsoft, and even Nintendo at this point, but I think I isolate Square the most because no one really asked for the updates whereas I admit to being a sucker myself for at least one or two of these other publishers’ titles.

And finally we get to developers.  I’m worried most about these teams for two main reasons.  The first is that it’s lazy port work for a game that most of these dev teams want to put in their past.  That’s not to say they aren’t proud of their work, but even George Lucas put Star Wars to bed after two decades of tweaking and tearing the lore apart.  Not only that, but it’s not uncommon for these updated ports to perform not as well as planned and have the whole studio shelved with only an HD remake as its swan song.  We also see the breakdown of studios, people leaving, and a lack of new ideas coming out of a team that’s churning nothing but remakes and sequels, although to be fair this is an iceberg tip in a much larger problem that’s irrelevant to the re-issue/remake.

black_cover

At a certain point I want to remind everyone that gaming is not dead, it’s very much alive, and so are the consoles that play your favorite games.  I understand we want a world of convenience and space is limited – few people have an entire game room with ancient consoles sitting around nor should they be expected to – but some of the requests above seem a lot more lazy than anything else.  Please keep in mind people that for every off-the-wall request there is an entire team of people who need to work out the logistics of time, business, work, compatibility, and market performance that’s being wasted on Streets of Rage while a timeless classic sits buried in the pile.  I mean seriously, you can buy the entire Resident Evil franchise (1-6 and Code Veronica) on PS3 for around $65 and that’s if you don’t have Playstation Plus, shouldn’t we not spend time to get this all ported to PS4 (oh and Playstation Now actually does close that gap in a lot of instances).  Black on PS2 and Xbox is selling on eBay for under $5 and can potentially work on 4 different consoles with backwards compatibility, do we really need to waste time on it?  No, we don’t.  So if you don’t mind, keep your wishlist to a simple personal blog post and only chime in to big companies with worthwhile answers to the questions they are asking, not the questions you wish they had asked.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the writer, Fred Rojas, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Gaming History 101 or its other writers, guests, hosts.

Written by Fred Rojas

February 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

Posted in Blog, Remakes

One Response

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  1. The biggest problem is that most HD remakes are inferior to the original version, with higher resolution vectors and widescreen support being their only saving points. And trophies RUIN a game experience. I say emulation is the best, if not only choice.

    Andrew

    February 12, 2015 at 12:47 am


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