Being in the gaming industry is a bit like playing chess. You have to look at the whole picture, see what your opponent is doing, and decide your next move. If you make the wrong choices, you’re in for a rough, frustrating ride. One that ends with you losing more than you gain. But if you make the right choices, you just might win.
The only difference is that in the gaming industry, it’s less about opponents and more about obstacles. Everyone should have the right to succeed, but you also don’t want to be left behind.
That’s why trends are so interesting, such as the remake trend. When you see so many development studios putting out remakes of older games, it makes you wonder if you should follow suit.
So. Should you?
Evaluate Your Reasons
First and foremost, think about why you want to jump on the bandwagon. On one hand, it could just be as a way to feel included, or capitalize on something trendy. But on the other hand, it could be that you’ve had an idea to remake something for a while now, and it seems like the best time to do it.
What’s important here is that you’re seeing the bigger picture. Making a game takes time, effort, and money. If you’re looking to capitalize on a trend, the time is now (or rather, yesterday), or else you run the risk of being too late to the party. On the other hand, if you’re looking to remake a game you launched before, and it made good sales at the time—it’s one of your favorites—then you might have more time on your hands. You’re not pressed for time as much, because you’re not trying to do something for the sake of a trend.
Consider Your Brand
If you’ve never remade a game, and frankly, your oldest game isn’t even that dated, then do you really need to remake it? Remakes are perfect for the studios that have been around for a decade or more, because everything changes in that span of time. Suddenly, the graphics are worth it. We’re at a point where graphics can’t really get… that much better. We have 4k, we have powerful consoles, but all in all, it takes a special kind of talent to put out a game that looks terrible.
So, unless you’re looking to remake a dated game, it won’t have that shocking, visual difference that makes it truly shine.
More than that, it makes you bring into question what you’ve created already. If lately, you’ve been putting out compilations or bundles of previously released games, it might make sense to put out a remake. If the last game you created reminds you of the early days of your studio, it might be nice to tap into that nostalgia.
Be Honest About ROI
Here’s the thing, not every game idea is guaranteed to give you a nice return on investment. There are projects where developers barely break even. Other projects where they lose money.
The trick to making sure that you make smart choices is to just think things through carefully. Logically, you shouldn’t remake a game that didn’t sell well back in the day. You should remake the game that is beloved, even now, with older generations of gamers exposing younger generations to it. A game that… will always remind someone of better times. Times when things were simpler and easier.
If you’re an unknown studio that just started out five years ago and you don’t have a game that really . . . would make players excited to play a remake of, it’s probably best to sit on this decision for another few years.
Seek to Improve
Finally, it’s crucial to be honest about your skill set as a studio. Chances are your studio has changed a lot over the years, and you’ve honed your skills along the way. In that light, check out if you have any games that you might be able to improve upon now that you’re more skilled.
For instance, consider Bethesda Softworks. They started off as generalists, working on hockey games, the Terminator series, and then finally launched The Elder Scrolls about 6 years into their careers. With the exception of IHRA Drag Racing in the early 2000’s, they essentially left sports games behind. These days, they’re known for being avid storytellers that create mesmerizing fictional worlds, intricate lore, and memorable adventures.
In other words, they’ve come a long way since Wayne Gretzky Hockey. When players think of Bethesda Softworks, they now think of The Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, and Fallout. They’ve improved over the years, and if they went back to remake an older game, they’d show their improvements.
This is, of course, highlighted by Prey. It’s a reimagining of the original game, developed by Human Head Studios, and it got a 9/10 on Steam, and an 8/10 from IGN.
In other words, as a developer, you’d be smart to remake a game that can showcase how far you’ve come in the last few years. You want to really improve on the game that’s already been made, and to do that, you need to improve yourself.
Play the Chess Game
So, back to the chess analogy: to truly succeed in video games, it’s important to think about your every move. As a developer, you’re not just creating a game or a few, you’re creating a collection. It has to make sense, it needs to flow and genuinely showcase what you’ve learned from previous projects.
If you decide to remake a game, make sure to think everything through, or else you might wind up making poor decisions that leave you in the dust. You want to win, not delay your failure.
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