IMHO: Easy Profits for HD Remakes
As a fan of the HD remakes of some of my favorite games, I am usually the first to purchase my favorite older games with new graphics. But as I was complaining about all the remakes from Hollywood, I realized the dark truth about HD remakes: Adding an HD gloss on an old game guarantees good sales with minimal investments.
With few exceptions, most HD remakes deliver the exact same experience as the original launch, but the game sees 720p visuals, instead of the standard definition of its original launch. Fans enjoy the opportunity to play their favorite games with a face lift, but they continue to ask the same questions, “Why doesn’t Final Fantasy VII get an HD remake?”
By looking at the majority of HD remakes and the few exceptions to the rule, it will become abundantly clear why your favorite old games will never see the graphical updates they deserve.
How to Make an HD Update
The first rule for an HD remake is playability. All games getting their graphical remakes are still relevant.
And the reason for this is because they follow the second rule of HD remakes: They all come from the last generation of consoles. So far all HD remakes come from the PlayStation 2 or Xbox. When the God of War HD Collection launched, people were still playing and buying God of War and God of War II for the PS2.
Following these two rules, making an HD update becomes a cheap endeavor with a small staff. The game itself remains unchanged. From gameplay to sound, Ico and Shadow of the Colossus are the same games on the PS3 as they were on the PS2. Then, as long as the game sells around 100,000 units at $50, the game makes a profit and looks good on the company’s budget reports.
This is important to note: HD remakes are for publishers, not gamers. Square Enix knows that you will buy Final Fantasy X HD, so the updates that fans want will never happen. Shinji Hashimoto, producer of Final Fantasy X, claimed that the game will be more of a “remaster” than a true remake. Now, when Tidus and Yuna stand at the ledge and shout, “Ha ha ha ha,” you can picture them laughing at you for buying a game that looks only slightly better than its PS2 release.
Breaking the Rules
Few HD remakes of classic games have actually put a full production into the game. But just because an HD gloss is the rule doesn’t mean it can’t be broken.
To prove it was ready to take the Halo franchise, 343 offered a major update for Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary. While the plot and level designs remained the same, all the art was reworked for modern gamers. More than that, though, the game added a Halo: Reach-esque multiplayer. No other HD remake delivers robust additions to the gameplay like this one did.
Rather than capitalizing on fans’ tendency to buy what they already own, 343 Industries used Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary as a way to prove that it was ready to take the franchise before Halo 4 launches. Fans buying this HD remake not only got to scratch their Nostalgic itch and get a taste of what to expect from the upcoming title.
Show Me the Money
Fans clamor for the HD launches of favorite games, especially if they are hard to find today. And without fail, fans continue to beg for HD remakes of certain games that did not stand the test of time.
More than once, I have stated that Final Fantasy VII is not playable any more. Who wants to save the world as a spikey-haired Popeye? If any game needed an HD remake, it would be the most beloved Final Fantasy of them all.
But the investment to making an HD remake would be comparable to a new game. In other words, the budget to remake Final Fantasy VII would be equal to a God of War: Ascension or Grand Theft Auto V.
And that is an awful excuse. Companies spend millions of dollars developing and advertising new games and get moderate sales. Square Enix claims that it would be too expensive to remake Final Fantasy VII in a way that would give the game a lasting feel.
Millions of fans, including myself, would spend $60 for an updated version of Cloud’s adventure. By using voice acting, real-time action and improved graphics, an HD Final Fantasy VII would be a completely new game. It would be a hit, selling more than the original launch.
But companies want a sure thing, and investing millions on a game is a risk. Like remaking favorite films or turning national best-selling novels into movies, HD remakes are about investing the least amount of risk for the most profit. Square Enix sites the amount of money it would take to remake Final Fantasy VII as an excuse, not a reason.
If Square Enix is too afraid to take the risk in remaking Final Fantasy VII, it should give the opportunity to someone else. A fan-made Chrono Trigger HD remake delivers beautiful graphics and strong promise, but whenever a fan-made game makes any headway, Square Enix threatens lawsuits to keep it down. Fans are more than willing to give their time and energy to the development of a remake without earning a dime for their efforts.
Of course I will still buy Final Fantasy X HD, but as I look at HD remakes, I understand that these games are only to make a quick buck, as opposed to bringing me what I want as a gamer.