Why HD Collections are Doing More Harm Than Good

High definition “collections” have been all the rage lately, with a plethora of developers “remastering” some of the most beloved games of generations past. There are a number of older titles that many gamers missed out on for whatever reason, and providing the consumer with the opportunity to experience the magic that they missed out on several years ago is absolutely fantastic. A prime example in this case would be the Team ICO Collection, which packs together two of the most highly regarded PS2 titles. Both of these games didn’t get a whole lot of attention at release and, as such, many gamers didn’t get a chance to experience the unique artistic approach to gameplay and design that has yet to be seen in another game since.

There is of course always a downside, and in this case, one that outweighs the benefits. The industry is slowly becoming bogged down with ports and remakes, encouraging not only gamers but also developers to occupy their time with works of the past, rather than progressing forward to create an experience that is new and innovative. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy taking a trip down memory lane just as much as the next guy; however, I would rather play something entirely new than revisit the relics of years past.

It sure looks good, but this could be bad for the industry.

Let’s take the example I provided earlier. There is no denying that Shadow of the Colossus and ICO are phenomenal games that have played a role in shaping the future of the industry. I would go even so far as to say that gamers should make it a priority to experience these games in order to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the industry as a whole. However, I don’t believe it’s worth occupying the time and resources of development teams simply to bring the game into high definition. While Team ICO may not be working on the collection directly, other internal development studios are busy taking the time to spruce up the graphics and add 3D support. I would much rather see these guys direct their efforts in a different direction, namely to work on a new project, rather than pour their time into games that are over five years old.

All in all, these collections end up impeding developers from creating something new. If gamers really would like to experience these games, they’re better off playing them in their original form, the format in which they were intended. Plus, the collections we’ve been seeing lately contain games that are still relatively cheap and easy to find, so all this effort on the part of developers and publishers to bring these classic titles into the current generation really isn’t necessary.

Another side effect that stems from these collections directly hurts the consumer. Gamers are getting nickel and dimed on these collections when there are alternatives far more favorable. The PlayStation 2 is incredibly cheap and, with online retailers like Amazon providing bargain bin prices, playing these older titles can hardly be considered a financial burden. Not only that, but the myriad of re-releases inevitably waters down the market, providing gamers with more rehashes than actual new properties that provide the innovation necessary to move the industry forward. These “remastered” products lure in compulsive collectors and trophy hounds who simply purchase the games out of a false sense of obligation. Consumers are wasting their money, supporting rehashes over innovation, and, as the popularity of these collections continues to rise, more developers will feel pressured to make them. In the end, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where no one wins. Developers fail to push the industry to new heights, while gamers waste their hard-earned cash on titles they’ve already played or can experience at a far lower price.

How do you feel about the sudden onslaught of HD “collections”, should publishers continue to remaster and re-release old titles, or is the past better left alone, and should innovation and the progression of the industry be the true goal of developers?