The Last of Us Remastered: Why Do We Buy Re-Releases?

Do you like re-releases, but are too scared to admit it? Or perhaps you hate them and wonder why others seem to keep scooping them up. Nick D. takes a look at the old practice of packaging old content as new and tries to make a bit of sense of it.

I bought The Last of Us Remastered. I bought it upon release despite the fact that I owned the PS3 version previously. I, like many people, took advantage of GameSpot/EB Games’ promotion where you could trade in your PS3 version and get the PS4 version of the game for $25. Justifications ran through my head, particularly thinking that this was a good deal and that I generally wanted to move PS3 games over to the PS4 anyway, but the truth of the matter is that I just like buying re-released content. In the eyes of many gamers, I would be considered something akin to “the enemy” for my choice in purchases, since I’m inherently condoning the process of publishers regurgitating content out for a quick buck. Judgments aside, I’m unlikely to curb my tendencies, and I’d like to delve into the reasons why people like me continue to buy re-releases.

The Ferrari of recycled content.
The Ferrari of recycled content.

First off, I think it’s important to quickly cover what I mean by re-release as that covers a wide variety of terms. I mean it in the broadest sense of the word. This includes straight out ports such as games being brought over to mobile phones, handhelds or other concurrent platforms; HD Remakes, which are usually nothing more than ports with a shiny new coating; and full blown remakes, which are rare and glorious, but still re-releases. Pretty much any time the content is repackaged and redelivered to the market can be considered a re-release. Even with substantial modifications like in the fantastic Resident Evil remake, the game is still a re-release under the broadest definition.

Rereleasing games can be a wonderful thing for consumers. Sometimes games are so rare that, despite their quality and legendary status, they are difficult for new gamers to find and experience like with Earthbound, which was only recently released on the Wii U’s Virtual Console after drowning in high-priced obscurity for years. Other times it allows new content to be built in as in the case with remakes and enhanced ports. More recently, publishers have started putting together Game of the Year, or Ultimate editions of games that pack together various pieces of DLC.

The differences are... not so much.
The differences are… not so much.

Nevertheless, there is a certain amount of stigma attached with re-releases, particularly when little time has passed since the original release. This has been particularly the case with HD Remakes, which, by their very nature, are simple upscales from the sixth generation of consoles. Gamers, like most consumers, don’t like to feel like they’re being gouged, and re-releases can grate when the circumstances are iffy. The recently re-released  Tomb Raider on current gen consoles bothered a lot of people. This was due partially because of how recently the original came out, Square-Enix’s insistence that despite selling so well the game under-preformed, and the fact that re-releases on brand new consoles get more scrutiny from those who are looking for reasons not to buy the new machines. I re-bought Tomb Raider too.

It’s not every re-release I personally go for, usually only games I really like and want to play again. For example, I’ve bought every iteration of Final Fantasy IV out there except for the mobile phone ports. Final Fantasy IV is a very special game for me, it being my first RPG and the game that pretty much clinched me as a hardcore gamer. As such, I’ve been willing to repurchase even when I could have easily just placed my SNES cart in, or enjoyed the excellent GBA port’s new translation. The same can be said with Resident Evil 4, a game that I inexplicably own the Gamecube, PS2, Wii, and PS3 version of and would gladly buy another new version.

For the record - not a huge fan of the redone character models for the party.
For the record – not a huge fan of the redone character models for the party.

So, the question remains why do people do it? As with most questions, the answer is varied and imprecise, changing depending on the individual. For some, it is enough that there is added value in the package. Whether it is the ability to carry the game with them when it’s ported onto a handheld, or because the developer added a slew of new content, or even just a tiny bit of gloss to the game. What counts as enough content to be worth the purchase is extremely subjective. To one person, an HD Remake may be the laziest thing a developer can put out and they might think people mad for buying them. To others, the additions are great, and they serve as an excuse to revisit a classic.

That brings me to a less tangible point, which is psychology. I had The Last of Us on my shelf, and the ads for the re-release reminded me that the game existed and made me want to play it again. I could have gone to my shelf, retrieved the PS3 game and played it, but I didn’t. Why is this? The reason is that I also wanted something new. I wanted something that I could spend money on, get that rush of endorphins from acquiring something that I didn’t have previously. That feeds into purchases. I’ve had re-releases that I’ve looked forward to, saying “I really want to play that game” despite the fact I could at any point. But, what I’m really saying is that I want to play the re-release. The game itself isn’t shiny anymore, doesn’t have that feeling of something new. Is this a silly, or downright stupid reason for spending money on a game? In many ways, yes. However, the ridiculous nature doesn’t change the feelings involved with the process.

Other people may have other reasons. Perhaps a person is of a collector-type personality and they feel obligated to collect each new version of the game as it comes out. Other people re-buy games out of an overwhelming sense of nostalgia that intermingles with the modernness involved with the new package. I, for one, can sympathize with that reason as nostalgia tugs at my pursestrings fairly regularly. Still others may have more ridiculous, unhinged, or very reasonable motives that I haven’t covered.

Don't be like a clicker. Be nice, and less mushroomy.
Don’t be like a clicker. Be nice, and less mushroomy.

Should people who repurchase games be ostracized or shouted at in the way that more judgmental parts of the internet would suggest? There is always the argument that by repurchasing these games, you encourage the practice. However, I personally don’t hate the practice. It is often done by a side team, which means it isn’t occupying the main creative development team to put these products out. Some people really enjoy them. And I’m not sure why that upsets people the way it does. Similarly to trophies and achievements, something inherently about people who enjoy these sorts of things seems to rub others the wrong way.

Whatever the reason people buy things the way they do, re-releases are not going anywhere. They’ve been around since the very beginning of the industry as games flitted around platforms and new versions of games were released. I know there will be re-releases I’ll buy in the future when I don’t have to. And I know many other people who will also join me in drinking the Kool Aid. It might not often be a good deal, but I don’t need a good deal to buy something to have fun with.

Published by

Nick Doyle

Nick D. is an avid gamer, who began his polygonal journey back upon the release of the original Super Mario Bros. Now he plays just about everything, though RPGs, primarily JRPGs, occupy much of his time.

  • I also just published an article discussing re-releases; HD re-releases to be precise! This was a good read!

  • There’s not too much to complain about. I know people hate the “if you don’t want it then don’t buy it argument”, but those people are desperate for something to bitch about and someone to boss around. I’d rather gaming companies spend the money, time, and energy developing new properties for the most part, but enough people disagree with me enough to continue to buy rereleases so they’re welcome to it. If people are willing to buy something, there’s no reason to expect companies not to sell it. Not my time, not my energy, not my money, and definitely not my problem.

  • Reblogged this on Game Scribe.