The Dilemma Behind Buying Re-Releases

It’s only natural for people to want to extract as much value as they can out of their work. We all do it in one way or another, but as far as gaming scene goes – milking is something we all dread. However, we’ve been put up with it for quite a while now. Franchises that should have been left alone have withered and fallen into obscurity when developers/publishers decided that the brand needs to be furthered. One example of milking that isn’t quite too extreme is the Crysis series. The original title was not only a gameplay masterpiece but also a game that moved the graphical boundaries of games to unseen heights, all the while we gamers cringed over its system requirements. Crysis 2 was mediocre at best, while the third game felt exactly the same as its predecessor. The franchise didn’t need to exist, really. We would have been perfectly happy with Crysis and Crysis Warhead but the devs/publishers felt the need to go ahead and milk the name for money. Who could have known what would happen, right? Well, we gamers had a vague idea the series would fail, but who listens to us anyway?

I’ve been nudged into writing this article after seeing that Dark Souls 2 is getting a next-gen re-release, similar as to how Tomb Raider and Metro: Last Light have gotten. I really am having a hard time understanding why these ports are necessary. I mean, it’s the same game with slightly improved graphics and a couple of additional bells and whistles at the ready – not to mention the fact that the price we’re asked for is often that of a brand new game. If a game was released on X360/PS3, why do we feel the need to transfer it to the new generation consoles and play the damned thing again, just a tad shinier? Truth be told, all three of these are great in their own right and should be played by just about everybody, but is this really how it should be done?

In truth, these “re-releases” are little more than what we called “GOTY” packs back in the day. These games-of-the-year would come pre-packed with all the patches, additional content and be wrapped up in an especially nice package. Also, they usually cost 60 USD/45 pounds, so we had to pay full price regardless of the fact that some of us indeed had the “vanilla” version of the game already. So it’s not really a new practice, it’s just that the publishers have renamed it and started feeding us these “re-releases” of games that haven’t been out for a whole year anyway. Let’s take a look at what was done with Last Light, shall we?

Metro Redux was a project that revitalized the brilliant-but-troubled Metro 2033, updating a relatively old game with a new engine, better gameplay, nicer graphics and such, and even though it wasn’t a free update, the owners of the original 2033 got a hefty discount anyway. This isn’t an issue in and of itself, but the problem lies in the fact that Last Light, 2033’s successor, was updated also. Instead of releasing a free update since the game wasn’t that different a couple of months after its release, it got the same treatment as 2033 did, bundled together with the exact same discount. And people bought it, sure, because we gamers feel a slight OCD when it comes to keeping our games up-to-date. And make no mistake, this was little more than a priced update. As it seems, the same thing is going to happen with Dark Souls 2. While it is relatively justified to re-release the game on next-gen consoles (I say relatively because I still think it’s a stupid notion from a vanilla buyers’ perspective) should it really be sold on PC? Can’t all versions of the game on Steam simply be updated to DX11, while DLC would be priced as usual? Because technical updates are the most important to those who disliked the additional content anyway, and the devs/publishers seem really intent on selling those to us as DLC too, which is bonkers. Not to mention that it basically confirms the fears we all had when Oblivion charged too much for horse armour back in the day. Are we looking at the future where the end user, the gamer, has to pay extra just to keep his game up-to-date? It’s a dreadful yes, at least as far as some developers/publishers go.

Instead of re-releasing games the same year they come out with nothing but minor patches, it is my opinion that effort should be made into reworking and adapting older titles. Then again, this would require much more work, so it’s obviously out of the window, but I digress.

Thankfully, some developers “re-release” their games properly. Take a look at CD Project RED. Their Witcher series is one of the most well-known and beloved RPGs today. And both the first and the second game got Enhanced Editions completely free of charge. With arenas, additional adventures and whatnot. Optimizations, fixes and such included, of course. I’ll also mention the fact that the games also shipped with virtually no pirate protection at all. So you see, this is a company that doesn’t have to milk its customers for money, as they love and appreciate its hard work. Two sides of the coin, right?