SofaBlog #4: The Re-Release

The Re-Release

Why I Keep Buying the Same Games

I have a problem. The very first SofaBlog I wrote, the prototype if you will, addressed reboots of comic book movies. It was a long rant about how movie studios rather make a movie using a character that has already appeared in film than use one that has not. The idea is not new, recreating what has already been done. Even before television and movies, book publishers would release “revised” special editions of books that had been ever so slightly changed from their original text. In every form of media, publishers will take what has already proven to be successful and remake the whole product and sell it as new. This is, effectively, the exact same product that was released originally, so why do I have to restrain myself from running out and buying what I already own?
Video game publishers use re-releases of video games largely as a marketing tool. This is done with books and movies as well, but it’s a little ridiculous with video games. The problem with re-releasing video games is that it’s hard to argue that a re-release is to bring a specific title of years past to the younger generations. Really good movies and books are kind of like a bottle of bourbon. After the time and effort has been put into the initial production, the product will remain just like it was the day it was made pretty much forever. Video games on the other hand age more like clothes. When those bell bottoms were first made they were the latest and greatest and while they haven’t changed, other less horrific fashions have developed in the time since its creation. In the same way that younger generations are put off by your hideous 1970’s fashion, it can be hard to convince a kid that grew up with fully 3-D first person shooters that Super Metroid really is a better game than the latest Call of Duty. The only logical reason that games are re-released is so that people like me, who are blinded by nostalgia, will go out and buy a 3DS just so I can have my 5th copy of Ocarina of Time.
The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time, this game has to be the worst offender when it comes to re-releases. This game has been re-released 5 times since it first came out; 6 if you include the variant cartridge it had for the N64. There have been two total changes made to the game in the 7 versions that exist. The Master Quest was added with the third version to be released, effectively a hard mode, and a complete graphic re-mastering with the 7th version. In total the untouched original game is available in 6 different varieties. This is absolutely insane. We aren’t talking about remakes here, this is literally: take the original, make it work on a new control scheme, put in a shiny new box and call it special. By and large the only people that continue to play this game own(ed) the original N64 version that is identical to nearly every re-release that has come out. Nintendo must think their customers are complete idiots if  they think they can just throw another re-release of Ocarina of Time out and gamers will foam at the mouth for it. I should probably mention at this time that I own 5 copies of Ocarina of Time for 4 different systems.
It really doesn’t make any sense. I went out and spent $300 on a 3DS to play a game I owned 4 times over already. Ok so it was portable, that is pretty lame excuse to me. How about my two copies of Knights of the Old Republic II? I played and beat that game years ago, then it was released on Steam and I snatched it up. The game was literally in the next room when I made the purchase. I could stand up, walk 20 feet and being holding my original game disc in my hands! I haven’t even installed the copy i bought on Steam! This is usually about the time I create an argument to answer the question presented in the first paragraph, except I don’t have any good reason to explain this absolutely insane behavior. My home is littered with special and limited edition copies of games that are unchanged from their original or non-limited edition counterparts. I don’t benefit anything from these extra and special copies I have laying around. I can’t explain exactly why I have original print copies of X-men #141 & 142 when I already owned a much cheaper trade paperback containing both. I am completely, painfully, aware of how a special edition Zelda 3DS XL is functionally identical to every other 3DS XL on the market. Yet myself and thousands of other consumer whores keep going out of their way to get these items.
A large number of great video games have been made in the nearly 40 years since home video games first emerged. Instead of trying to create new characters and stories, publishers will instead go to games that were met with acclaim and success in the past. It’s makes sense from the publishers point-of-view. Spend almost no time or money on something great they made 10 years ago, call it a special edition, and use it to promote the new product. As long as mindless consumers, like me, continue pick up each new release of the same game sitting in their living room collecting dust, this trend will continue. This shouldn’t work at all, yet it never fails. Video game publishers can always count on those blinded by nostalgia to needlessly buy a 5th copy of their game. If I understood this behavior I’d probably have a lot more letters after my name. I know that I really don’t need another copy of Ocarina of Time but I know I’ll have to fight myself not to but the next re-release that comes out. It is something that I just try to make peace with lest my head explode from trying to rationalize it. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go pawn my 3DS to pre-order that hot new Zelda 3DS XL.

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