Companies have known for a long time how valuable our memories are to us whether it be adverts showing mothers in aprons giving out cookies or Dave showing perpetual Top Gear repeats, but the phenomena is now slowly becoming common place in the gaming industry.
Whether it be Spyro, Crash Bandicoot or Ratchet and Clank, I’ve found myself saying “god I remember that game” now more than ever, but the question I want answered is why is that? Well it turns out that nostalgia is a very good way of making money.
Take a look at the film industry for inspiration, different area but very similar principles at work. It seems like every beloved franchise over the last few years had had either a facelift or a total reboot; the reason for which becomes more obvious when you think about it. All of these films have pre-established audiences and places in pop culture, which in essence makes them an easy bet if your main goal is to make profit. It also requires little to no creative input, as in most cases the characters and premises are well established.
Now you may be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the gaming, but when you boil it down all of the above applies to both industries. The gaming industry is under massive pressure from its shareholders to keep generating profits at the same rate that it currently is (a rate that some would argue is unsustainable) and reskinning a beloved game is an easy way to do that.
It’s important to say that most of us don’t mind this, seeing old franchises getting love is usually always a good thing, but it has to be done for the right reasons. There’s a difference between cashing in on a licence you own and paying homage to a beloved franchise, a difference that’s not always easy to differentiate.
Instead I see it as an admission by larger game developers that they’re losing the confidence in their ability to make creative and unique games. Obviously there are exceptions such as the fantastic Mario Odyssey that came out in 2018, but publishers seem to be overlooking the talent that their development studios have.
By Ryan Pointon