Some music fans, particularly those that prefer older bands and artists, can be regularly found criticizing the fact that modern musicians regularly borrow ideas and sample sections from existing songs.
Those that say this will often use this as proof that modern musicians are not as good as ones that created famous tracks in the past.
That’s not an overly fair representation of the facts though. In reality, the practice of reusing musical elements or taking inspiration from older works is nothing new. In 1997, The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony sampled from an orchestral version of The Last Time by The Rolling Stones. Similarly, in 2004, Madonna used a synthesized version of the melody from ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, while four years earlier, Robbie Williams sampled a 1977 Barry White song to create Rock DJ.
This reusing old existing content has been going on for decades and makes perfect sense, because musicians can use the same melody or riff to create something that is entirely different.
This same practice is commonplace within the gaming industry, with developers now regularly rummaging through their back catalogs to find something to remake, remaster, and re-release. And just like in the music industry, video game publishers receive the same criticism for “not making something new”.
The Rise of the Remaster
Remasters and re-releases have always taken place to some degree, but their prominence has increased drastically in more recent years.
The trend began during the PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 era, when developers began to experiment with backward compatibility for old titles. Sony was one of the early pioneers in doing so, creating God of War HD and The Sly Trilogy.
After the success of these, just about every publisher in the industry has jumped on the bandwagon. And for good reason.
A Game Doesn’t Need to be New to be Fun
People play video games because they’re fun. They’re fun when they’re first released and they can continue to be fun for years after that.
Titles that have more variety are likely to have a longer shelf life as the different outcomes from each round will be more novel and entertaining.
Casino games are the perfect example of this since they continue to offer fun and entertainment to players, many years after it was created. In the late 1990s, iGaming pioneers decided to bring classics like roulette and blackjack into the digital age by letting players place wagers on them through their computers. Today, billions of pounds are spent on them in the UK alone, with even more wagered in the rest of the world.
More than 20 years later, online casinos continue to be popular. This is because the games they offer remain as fun as they were when they were first offered to internet users and because developers have continually introduced new and innovative features. On top of this, new online casinos are launching all the time just to keep up with demand, so players will often turn to sites like OLBG.com to point them in the direction of the one that’s right for them.
Remasters Have a Guaranteed Audience
If a game was a success the first time around, then there is a good chance that it will be successful when it is remastered. There is already a large audience that loves it and will likely be willing to pay for it again.
Compare this to the risk that comes with creating something entirely new and the cost of marketing it aggressively to create demand, and you can see that it makes a lot of commercial sense to polish up an existing product.
Remasters Are Cheaper to Make
Developing a new video game can cost millions with production times running into several years. A remaster is typically faster and easier since much of the hard work has already been done.
Many developers also turn to specialist companies that are experts in remastering to help them. One of these is Bluepoint Games, which has remastered several titles, including Shadow of the Colossus.
This outsourcing means a developer’s in-house team can focus on new content while they have a third party working on a guaranteed success.
Customers Are Willing to Buy Remasters
In the music industry, artists and record labels wouldn’t continue to sample old tracks for their new songs if consumers didn’t like the finished products. They make their money from music sales, streaming, and concerts, so music keeps producing content that fans want to listen to.
The same is true in gaming, the supply of remastered video games matches the demand. After the recent announcement that the Grand Theft Auto Trilogy would be released as the “Definitive Edition”, many fans took to the internet to talk about how excited they are for the prospect of being able to explore Rockstar’s three cities with modern controls and enhanced graphics.
If these players weren’t willing to buy and play these games, then publishers wouldn’t commission and release them. Gaming remasters are likely going to be here for a while longer, at least while there are older titles that can be improved up to the modern standards that are set by the high-spec PS5 and Xbox Series X. And like with music, some may criticize it for being a product of laziness, the reality is they are a repurposing of old content into a new product that people enjoy.