After years of waiting, at the 2016 E3 gaming conference, Bethesda finally confirmed that the remastered edition of Skyrim will be available on PS4, PC and Xbox One later this year.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition will contain the original game as well as add-on content, with improved visuals and in-game mod support. The PC version will be available for free for Steam users who already own the original game and expansions. With Call of Duty, The Last of Us, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls all receiving re-releases for the latest consoles, it seems that remastered editions of video games are steadily on the rise. Despite the excitement surrounding this, there has been some controversy over whether producers are shamelessly money-grubbing by rehashing new editions of existing games.
Whilst I understand the view that developers are simply cashing in on past successes, I firmly believe that a lot more goes into creating a remastered edition of a video game than simply improving graphics. Developers have to create additional content, which takes time and creativity to put together. As well as being mindful not to make too many changes to something so previously well-received, but still taking advantage of technological advances available and making the re-release different enough to be worth buying. With The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim selling over 20 million copies, it is a clever sales move on Bethesda’s part to re-introduce such a well-loved game.
Nobody complains when a film is re-released as a blu-ray disc, yet fans are annoyed by producers remastering popular video games. Some avid gamers believe that all remastered editions of games are unnecessary because they lack anything of substance that sets them apart from the previous generation, but I believe this is a very misguided view. There is a huge difference between a film being re-released and a video game being re-released, because when remastering a game, it is not as simple as just improving the graphics. The popularity of a game is determined by how the player can interact with the gameplay, as a video game is based on having an actual experience. So to suggest that remastered editions are simply just improving aesthetic attraction is reducing video games to nothing more than looks. Games such as Minecraft prove that graphics are not the most important aspect of a game. Developers dedicate time to upgrading popular games so that fans can have additional gaming experiences, such as incorporating elements of virtual reality for users of PlayStation VR.
With childhood favourites like Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon receiving remastered editions, there is also the aspect of branching out to attract a new generation of gamers by re-releasing older titles to be compatible with newer consoles. Many new consoles are not backwards compatible so without these remastered versions of classic games, many of these would become obsolete. Whilst it is true that some remastered video games don’t contribute to the industry (in terms of creative development) at large, being able to legally purchase copies of games to suit new gaming models still supports the publishers and developers involved with creating the product.