Every day, it seems that more games are being remade (either in remastered or remake form). For console gamers (PC gamers should also know) there is a remake version of the legendary game, Final Fantasy VII (FFVII). Some time ago, there are also 2 remastered version games released in the near future, Mafia II and Saints Row the 3rd.
We still haven’t talked about Skyrim and GTA V being reproduced many times to newer platforms. Skyrim even has 3 versions on PC, Skyrim, Skyrim Special Edition, and Skyrim VR. This reproduction process actually occurs not only in the gaming industry but also in various types of content such as songs or movies / TV series.
Especially if we talk to mobile games, not a few are games that take previously popular characters to be included in new games – be they official or unofficial.
The big question is, why can this be and is happening more and more today?
There are 5 answers from different perspectives that I have collected on this question. So, without further ado, here are the five answers.
- Low Cost and Low-Risk Effort of Business
The first answer here is probably the easiest for everyone to understand and find. All forms of business must have risks because there is capital that must be disbursed but it does not necessarily sell well in the market.
By reproducing existing ideas, the production effort will certainly be cheaper because it does not require all aspects to be done from scratch. For example, in the remastered version, developers no longer need to pay for plot / storyline creators, character designers, game designers, voice actors, music creators, or others because everything is there. Developers only need to improve the quality of textures and graphic features in remastered.
The remake version, on the other hand, does take more people, time and money. Like when FFVII was remade, the developer had to recreate the game from many aspects, but still there is one more factor that makes it less risky, namely the market (audience).
FFVII is one of the legendary games from the first PlayStation era. In fact, you are outrageous if you’ve never heard of this one game – whether you’ve played it or not. That way, the developer / publisher does not need to worry about finding new markets because it has been proven there.
In fact, finding this new market is not that easy. The gearbox, for example, created the Battleborn a few years ago. Unfortunately, their efforts to introduce a new franchise were unsuccessful. This means that the time, effort and capital invested in creating the Battleborn is not worth the material benefits. The gearbox was even more successful with Borderlands 3 (even though it was a sequel, not a remake, let alone a remastered) because the market had been around since BL2 or BL1.
I think this is also the reason why many mobile games offer low scores from the aspect of authenticity (although the concept of authenticity can also be debated further, which we will discuss in the last section). From my experience paying attention to the mobile game industry, in fact most (if not all) of the games here are inspired (or imitated) from other products in one or more aspects, in terms of gameplay or character.
Before we move to the second reason, which comes from the user’s perspective, I would like to say that a remake, remaster, sequel / prequel, spin-off, or anything else that is not entirely original is not necessarily negative either.
I also played it back when Bethesda re-released Skyrim Special Edition (since it’s also free for early Skyrim owners with all the DLC). I also applaud Square Enix’s efforts to recreate FFVII Remake.
Even though things that are not entirely original are arguably cheaper in production costs and safer about business stakes, we cannot necessarily give a negative stamp as long as the implementation is done very well. On the other hand, not everything that is original is necessarily good.
- Nostalgia, Narcissism, and Familiarity
All products will not survive if there is no market either. Likewise with remake products, remastered, spin-offs, sequels, et al. just now. The fact is, we as users also love these products.
There are 3 reasons that I have found from a user’s perspective that make us like these products.
The first reason is of course the nostalgia factor. Who doesn’t like nostalgia, especially for our sweet memories from the past? I also still remember my sweet memories playing Suikoden 2 or Legend of Dragoon on PSX and hope there will be a remake version of it on PC, in the future.
When we listen to old songs, watch old school films, or play classic games, we are also brought back to good memories when we were children – the fact is that childhood was always more fun because I didn’t have to bother making a living. for family, life without the burden of meaningful demands, or reminds me repeatedly of writers who still often typos or write strange sentences … Wokawoakowkaow …
Apart from nostalgia, old products can also be used for narcissistic needs. Everyone is narcissistic, at least to some degree. That’s why social media is always busy because, for one thing, we want to advertise ourselves about who we are in front of our friends or in cyberspace.
Finally, the reason that makes us like classic products is the familiarity principle / re-exposure effect. With the exploding popularity of the MCU on the big screen (which previously took advantage of the familiarity of the comics), more and more people are familiar with characters from the Marvel universe. This is then put to good use (or even too exploitatively) to games on various platforms.
This also applies to other aspects of our lives, not only about the content we consume. When we move offices, for example, there is also a comfort that we get when we already know one or more friends in the new office. 3 factors have made us as users more open to remakes, remasters, sequels / prequels, spin-offs, and their friends.
- Technological Advancements
One more factor that makes more remakes, remasters, or friends come from a different perspective. The third factor comes from the rapid development of technology in recent years.
In 2011, Ray Kurzweil even had time to say, “so we will not experience 100 years of (technological) progress in the 21st century – its development is more like the equivalent of 20 thousand years (at today’s pace).”
One of the things that makes us lazy to play classic games is that the graphics look bad when compared to new games. This also happens because of the rapid development of graphics technology in games. Let’s just compare the 2 games made by Rockstar, namely GTA V and RDR 2. These two games are only 5 years apart on the release date. GTA V was released in 2013 while RDR 2 was released in 2018. Incidentally, I did play GTA V again after I finished RDR 2. So, I saw how far the beauty of graphics offered by RDR 2, compared to GTA V.
In the era before this, for example in the Super Nintendo (SNES) era, the development of graphic technology was not so fast. SNES was first produced in 1990 and stopped production in 2003. So its life span can be up to 13 years. The PlayStation 4 was released in 2013 and soon we’ll be seeing the PlayStation 5, although it’s still 7 years on.
The development of graphics technology is increasingly seen as significant if we look at the PC and mobile platforms. 10 years ago, I didn’t think there were any mobile games that had as beautiful graphics as the games on this list.
On the other hand, technology also facilitates the remake or remastered duplication process. This is also why, in my opinion, Skyrim is more reproduced than Morrowind or Oblivion. Another example, let’s say it like this, music that has been produced in the digital age will be easier to reproduce than music when it is still using a cassette or even still on LPs.
The easier it is, come back again, the cheaper it will be for the reproduction.
- The industry is about Reproduction
If the three answers above do sound more shallow and easier to understand, the last two answers will be deeper or maybe even philosophical …
Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer once coined a theory called the culture industry. This theory says that films, music, and other content can no longer be called a work of art, but rather a product of the industry. Please read for yourself for the full theory as it will be too long to explain all of them in this article.
Adorno and Horkheimer’s theory is a little different in direction from what I want to explain here, however, one thing is certain, for me this theory is a must-understand for people who work in creative industries.
The derivation of this theory, because content products (including games) are no longer called works of art, of course it becomes more legitimate if they are produced repeatedly to maximize profits.
I’m sure not many people protest (with unoriginal reasons) that a light bulb is produced a million times a day. Likewise, the shape of the mouse, keyboard, headset, cellphone, and others, which are mostly the same or similar.
Hence, content products can also be legitimate and it is not surprising if they are reproduced repeatedly because they are both products from the industry.
Regardless of people who want to see a game, music, or film as a masterpiece, in fact the content (original or not) is an industrial product that is made with the aim of making a profit.
- Originality is Overrated
The final answer which may also be philosophical is the question of questioning the concept of originality.
Mark Twain once said something like this, “the kernel, the soul, let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances is plagiarism.”
He believes that there is no such thing as an original thinking because every subject in the world has been written down, written and studied. Please believe it or not, but the story about the struggle of a hero to defend the truth has even existed since Beowulf was written about 1000 years ago. A song about a breakup? I think there are too many songs about such stories in various languages of various ages.
We live in modern times when civilization is 6,000 years old. Too arrogant or it could be naive if you believe that your idea is the first in the world … Even the invention of computers did not come from the idea of one person. All the inventions and technologies throughout human history have come from the collaboration of ideas and efforts between us and our neighbors.
Thus, the longer the civilization of the world lasts, the more ideas for remakes, remasters, sequels, or whatever they are called.
I know that this fifth answer does seem too broad from the specific question that is the title of this article. However, I think there is nothing wrong with realizing that originality is not as shallow as you previously imagined.
Even so, don’t make this theory a refuge from just cheating or plagiarism in order to get an easy way to seek profit or fame too because you will still look banal and shallow if that’s the context …
Those are the five answers that I can find out why there are so many remakes, remastered, and friends in the game industry or even in other creative content industries.
From a business, market and technological perspective, reproduction makes a lot of sense to run, as I have outlined above. Meanwhile, in terms of industry and understanding of originality, I think this remake, remaster, spin-off, sequel / prequel, and their friends is inevitable.
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