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Stop Remaking Good Games And Start Remaking Games That Could Have Been Good

Hello, I’m the annoying guy that keeps asking, “Why do we need remakes of games that are still perfectly playable?” Part of what makes The Last Of Us, Dead Space, Resident Evil 4, Silent Hill 2, and Horizon Zero Dawn enduring classics is that they hold up so well against modern game design, and yet, millions of dollars and man hours are being spent to remake these beloved titles despite the fact that they’ll never make the same impact the original did. I am aware that they’ll keep doing unnecessary remakes as long as people keep buying them, but that the corporate incentive doesn’t answer my question. Why do we need these remakes? How can a triple-A remake ever be better, for players and the industry as a whole, than just making an entirely new game?

The fixation on remakes is troubling. Not only is it a transparently corporate and creatively bankrupt endeavor, but it also stunts the medium. All these exceptional games worthy of a remake wouldn’t exist if the industry had just spent the last couple of decades remaking every big game from the ‘80s. Pac-Man and Galaga are great, but aren’t you glad that games were allowed to keep evolving? The obsession with remakes is taking much of the top talent and resources of big studios away from something original and forward-thinking that could itself one day be worthy of a remake.

But the game industry, like the film industry, is risk averse, and making new things is inherently more risky than remaking things people already like. When you decide to make the first Dead Space again, you know you can develop it quicker than a whole new game, and you also know people will buy it based on the name alone. If you try to do something new, you could end up with Battleborn, Babylon’s Fall, Gotham Knights. In the case of the latter it wasn’t even an original IP, which should tell you how difficult it can be to make new games.

As the time and labor cost of game developments continue to rise, remakes are an unfortunate inevitability. Still, remaking The Last of Us feels like a particularly soulless endeavor, especially for a studio like Naughty Dog that employs some of the best developers in the world. If publishers want to reach into their back catalog for older games to quickly remake, why not choose games that didn’t live up to their full potential instead of games that are already great?

I’ve played Resident Evil 4 at least six times. I played it in VR this year, and I’m going to play the remake next year too. But I’d much rather see a remake of something like Parasite Eve, a fascinating and terrifying survival horror game on PS1 that, despite earning a few sequels, didn't quite deliver the same kind of iconic horror experience Resident Evil did. The same could be said for 2011’s Shadows of the Damned and even Dino Crisis, which has its fans to this day. These are all games with an interesting or unique core premise that, for one reason or another, missed the mark in execution. These are the kinds of games that need a second chance.

I want to see a team that’s passionate about dragon-riding remake 2007’s Lair. Let’s see what a remake of multiplayer co-op shooter Brink could do with modern network and physics technology. Instead of Dead Space, EA should remake Dante’s Inferno and Syndicate. Ubisoft, don’t make Splinter Cell again, that game is already great, remake Red Steel instead. If your reaction to any of those suggestions were, “But those games sucked!” That’s my point exactly. These games have untapped potential and the publishers that own them just want to pretend they don’t exist. In a lot of these cases, it’s easy to see where things went wrong and what they would need to become the game the developers envisioned them to be. Let’s treat remakes like second chances for cool ideas, not just second chances for publishers to make more money.

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