SBox Soapbox: Buying the Remaster of a Game You Already Played

Yesterday saw the release of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection, a next-gen remaster on PS4 containing the original trilogy from PS3. The major draw of the set is the enhanced graphics and higher frame-rate. Other than that, there’s nothing new here. No new features, no changes, nothing. This collection mainly exists as a means to introduce prospective fans and build hype for next year’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.

As a fan of Uncharted who owns and has beaten these games before, I know this and therefore told myself I have no reason to buy it. So why do I want it so bad?

There has been a debate in the past few years regarding next-gen remasters of previously released games. Should people buy remasters at full price? When is a remaster necessary? What does it say about originality in the game industry? It’s hard not to have the conversation when these ports are a dime a dozen these days.

However, that’s not the conversation I’m trying to have. Instead I want to pose a question and encourage you to leave a comment telling me your take. What is your etiquette for remasters of games you already own/played?

What I mean is what would it take for you to buy the same game twice. Are the technical upgrades enough to sell you? Does it depend on how long ago the game was released? Perhaps it depends on the game in question. Would you at least consider it at a lower price? I’m sure this is different for everybody, so let me know.

Personally, I never cared about remasters of games. I don’t own many of them, but when I do its a game or set of games I never got around to playing prior. The ones that come to mind are the HD Collection of Jak & Daxter (PS3) and Metal Gear Solid (360), Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix (PS3), DuckTales Remastered (PS3), and Super Mario All-Stars (Wii), which is a port more than it is a remaster. I bought/received those games for the purpose of playing them for the first time, with the exception of the Mario collection. In that case, I just wanted to have a physical copy.

Never had I bought a game I already owned for graphics alone. Remakes are a different story, because they’re complete overhauls of the original game. I’ve always been a proponent of playing the game with its original graphics whenever possible. It’s part of the charm. Granted, when I haven’t played the game before, I’ll obviously go for the newer version unless the price is that much more expensive.

Now I bring about the question: what would it take for me to buy a game again? I’ve been tempted in the past with some games, but I never acted on it. Lately, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, Injustice, GTAV and Uncharted were games I owned that have been remastered. Haven’t bought any of these yet, but the temptation was there in some cases.

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, for example, I wasn’t as keen on getting over the original. The game looked nicer, but not by much. It certainly wasn’t enough for me to jump ship even with all the DLC intact. But how could it have been that much better hen the release dates were only 10 months apart?

That’s another factor to consider: timing. How much time should pass before you consider picking the same game up? My thought process has always been this. I’ll consider it only if enough time passed to make a great visual difference. For instance, Jak & Daxter HD Collection had 10 years between the release of the first game and its remaster. Even if I had the first game, I’d be more willing to buy the HD Collection due to the time gap. I guess that’s one of the things that made the Tomb Raider remaster unappealing to me.

Ironically, I came close several times to buying The Last of Us Remastered, which did the same thing Tomb Raider did. (The release was 13 months apart). The only explanation I could come up with is that I just liked the game more. The Last of Us is my favorite game of all-time. Perhaps that had a hand in my temptation.

So, maybe it’s not all about the timing of the remaster, but the game itself. When I think about it, there are certain games I own that I would instantly buy again. If Crash Bandicoot gets an HD Collection, I’d buy it because I love the series that much. Granted, timing would make me more comfortable in that decision. As far as 7th gen games, maybe I would buy a remastered Max Payne 3 or Super Mario Galaxy. Even if no gameplay was changed, it won’t matter… to a point.

I mean, I resisted the temptation for The Last of Us Remastered, which makes my point moot. So sentiment may not be as strong a factor as I thought. Is it financial, then?

I think that’s what made me shy away from TLOU. I bought that original game Day 1 for $60, so asking me to pay full price for the prettier version is a bit steep for me. If I have $60, I’d rather pay for a new experience than the same one again. Now suppose the remaster was cheaper. Maybe Naughty Dog gave every previous owner a discount; would I buy it then. Probably yes. The most I would pay for the remaster is about $40 (justified for the inclusion of Left Behind DLC). It’s getting close to that price now, but $50 is still steep for me.

In fact, I own Injustice: Definitive Edition despite owning the original for one reason. It was free with PS Plus.

But there’s one last factor. What could a remaster include to convince you? Some remasters try to include something slightly extra to entice previous adopters. Someone who does a good job at this is Nintendo with their Zelda remasters. In fact, I own The Wind Waker HD (for free, but still). Those remasters benefit from enhanced controls brought about by the console they’re now on (gyroscope, Miiverse connectivity, touchscreen, etc). Super Mario 64 DS is similar, but also added new characters.

Other companies do this, too. However, not all additions make a remaster worth it. Can I be the first to say that Photo Mode is the most worthless new feature to include? Behind the scenes stuff are also fairly common additions, but not everyone’s into that sort of thing. You need something substantial to make the experience more worth it. A demo or beta is a substantial (albeit short-term) addition, for example. Perhaps alternate cutscenes or a downloadable soundtrack. There are small things that can make a remaster worth it with minimal effect on the actual game.

I think that’s the key to the whole thing. I’m sure many people will agree that additional features are the primary incentive that will make anyone buy a game again. Hopefully we’ll see more remasters try this method to get both newcomers and previous adopters buying your remastered game.

So when considering my remaster etiquette, I think I can see myself buying Uncharted: the Nathan Drake Collection one day, but only at a lower price and after enough time has passed. By then the beta will mean nothing, and all I’m left with is a dumb photo mode. I’m still willing to do it, though, since Uncharted means a lot to me.

Let me know your answers to my questions in the comments.

I’m SBox180. Thanks for reading!

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