art by rob

about that rob

dare you enter the tomb?

Punching Robots 2084

With Your Host, Rob Remakes

Videogames, you don’t have to invent ‘problems’ out of whole cloth.

Really, it’s fine not to.

It’s been nice being anywhere that isn’t Twitter and not having my head stuck in the perma-toilet of unflushable takes, rampaging fascists and terrible opinions on a daily basis.

It’s so quiet these days, it’s nice! I really recommend finding a quiet corner of Mastodon and having some better social media stuff.

Mind you, videogames still continues its quest to be a culturally weird place to exist within and a place where so so many people should not be allowed near numbers (never mind the atrocity that is often videogame business graphs) without supervision.

This past week I’ve read two (2) articles on mainstream sites that have a frankly weird idea of the place of remakes and remasters in games. The more inane of the two bringing this silliness comes courtesy of Kotaku. Headline: “2024 Is Filled With Video Game Remakes And Remasters

There’s a lot to be said about the way videogames goes about underfunding and failing to adequately support any attempts at preserving its own heritage, a real lot, and certainly the way remasters sometimes make a complete balls up of a game can be saddening.

This is absolutely not a problem unique to videogames, of course. Films, books, music, art in general all contend with this problem. I have some absolutely atrocious remasters of albums about the place, the new effects (thankfully always optional) added to Doctor Who re-releases are really not my bag, I’ve got crap editions of books, ‘who thought that was a good idea’ re-issues of comics. It’s a thing.

Remakes and remasters being made though? That’s not really a problem, is it? And in videogames, the number of them is way, way smaller than it needs to be to really support the breadth of stuff that disappears as tech progresses, licenses expire, companies fold and all the rest of it. The bulk of our history is unavailable to play legally, remasters and remakes are a part of the solution to that.

The article points out that in 2024, there’s going to be over 30 remakes and remasters released by the end of the year. The implication is that this is a lot. A flood, even.

For some perspective, there have been over four thousand games released on Steam in the first three and a bit months of this year alone and an incalculable amount on Itch. Console releases get nowhere near that, obviously, but there’s no shortage of the things. Whatever machine you look at, 30 or 40 is a negligible amount of videogames over the course of a year. These days, it’d be a miniscule amount over the course of a few months, never mind.

At least Yak games don’t give me the hump.

The other claims in the article as to why 30 or 40 remakes or remasters is potentially A Problem are equally bizarre.

No, working on a remake does not stop a developer from working on something new. That’s not how anything works! Digital Eclipse putting The Jeff Minter Story together does not come at the cost of another game existing, Night Dive and all the rest of the folks who dedicate whole studios to this stuff aren’t replacing original works with remasters. This is not either/or, that would be very silly indeed and working on a remaster isn’t some sort of purgatory developers get sent to.

It’s really not ‘saddening’ that people would ‘rather spend money on’ archive games than new games. It’s normal for people to want to experience a selection of old and new things. Nobody is lamenting that I’m sitting here watching The Rockford Files and reading some old 2000ad strips with the cat right now when I could be watching the latest episode of Eastenders and reading this week’s Beano instead.

Besides that, I can promise you that the bulk of remakes and remasters are absolutely not selling in enormous numbers and they certainly aren’t cutting into the sales of new games in any way, people still seem to be buying new games just fine. Either that or I’m hallucinating a whole bunch of headlines celebrating some rather large sales numbers for some videogames, anyway.

I know videogames has a long history of “there’s too many […]” and it’s an easy thing to lean into and complain about. Nothing the article draws attention to is a problem for developers, players or videogames – often the opposite! And the numbers! 30 or 40 is nothing. Fancy even suggesting it’s something of note in these times of abundance, much less suggesting it’s a flood.

For once, it would be nice not to invent problems out of whole cloth. And, y’know, retain some perspective.

Share this post?