Yesterday, a report came in from gaming news site Mp1st that a remake/remaster of Horizon Zero Dawn is in development. While this is not officially announced by PlayStation, Lords of Gaming can confirm as well with our sources that this is true. Since this news broke, it sparked yet another debate on whether or not games that have been recently released, should be remastered or remade.
But while this might not seem like a touchy subject on the surface. This comes off the heels of many negative situations for PlayStation. Such as:
- Pay-walling Limited Time Games Trials behind the new PlayStation Plus Subscription.
- Console price increases outside of the United States.
- Not honoring the original free PlayStation 5 upgrade path for Horizon Forbidden West.
- The collector’s editions of The Last of Us Part 1 being damaged while in transit in mail services due to mediocre packaging.
- PlayStation’s CEO Jim Ryan making contradictory public statements on unfair exclusivity possibilities after the Activision/Blizzard acquisition.
- PlayStation Stars rewards service locking priority customer service behind a tedious trophy acquisition task. As well as having to make multiple full-price purchases. Alongside a new report for an “invite only” tier for PlayStation Stars before its full rollout.
The list could go on. But in a time when people should not need more of a reason to discuss anything PlayStation related in a negative light. This report opens yet another can of worms. One that I believe exposes a bigger problem surrounding the company.
What the Horizon Zero Dawn Remake/Remaster is
According to the report what is currently told to them is:
It is to our understanding that the Horizon Zero Dawn remake/remaster will bring it closer to Forbidden West, from improved textures, draw distance. character models, to even new and improved animations, and much more. Whether it’s on the scale as The Last of Us Part 1 Remake, is not known at this time.
So what can be confirmed is that this project could be like The Last of Us Part 1. Lifting the whole of the game to newer heights with modern technology. But this is where the problem lies. I am not a game developer but I am sure that some game developers look at their game and wish they could do more with it after a period of time. Technology improves, you get more resources and you gain feedback from your fans. There is no problem with that philosophy. But that is why sequels to any game, book, show, or movie exist, to begin with.
Horizon Zero Dawn objectively is flawed, like every game is. Something could always be better in every game. So when Horizon Forbidden West was in development. It was their opportunity to improve upon the idea for not only their fans but themselves. Guerilla Games even went back to the original game and patched it to look and run significantly better on the PlayStation 5. So why does this remake/remaster exist? Simply put, failure.
The Missed Opportunity of Forbidden West
Earlier this year, Horizon Forbidden West launched to critical acclaim. But how was it a failure? Well, two elements factored into its failure:
- Online Influencers across social media platforms, especially YouTube, pointed out that the game was a “same-y” open-world game. Youtuber Video Game Dunkey even stated:
It’s a market tested, risk adverse product that most people will enjoy but only a few will truly love or despise.
- It launched dangerously close to Elden Ring. A highly anticipated game before it launched and a potentially industry-changing game in the future.
Both of these situations dampened the noise that the game could have made. At the moment, if you try to buy a PlayStation 5, you will most likely have to buy a bundle with the game included. Indicating a push for its sales numbers to increase from the popularity of the console itself. For critics, a success, for the general gaming community, a failure. Despite the fact that bundling software is a common practice. Just too coincidental after its launch.
Horizon Forbidden West is a cross-generational title as well. Meaning owners of the PlayStation 4 can play both games just fine. Which defeats the purpose of the remake/remaster of Horizon Zero Dawn. If both games are playable on both generations of consoles, what is achieved by making a current generation version of it? But if the aim is to make the game much prettier and improve on every detail, why not just go play Horizon Forbidden West where these improvements were made? The leap in quality can create a fantastic first impression.
Another possibility for improvements is accessibility features. But these could be patched into the game considering Forza Horizon 5 recently added a sign language overlay for the hard of hearing. This project just does not make sense. Leading me to worry about the creative decisions behind it and wonder if there is creativity driving it.
The Path to Creative Bankruptcy
PlayStation has been making very questionable and negatively received decisions going into this generation of consoles. The last discussion this company should have is one centered around whether or not they should be remaking or remastering games that are not even a decade old.
All of this just seems like PlayStation is front faced on being just a business. Squeezing blood from a fresh stone while being stern and cold in their decisions. Whether that is the increase in console prices in less fortunate countries or waiting a full twenty-four hours collecting pre-orders from consumers, not in the know, to honor the originally promised free upgrade path for Horizon Forbidden West.
Of course, every corporation is a business. However, how they portray themselves matter just as much as the products they produce. The image should be, creating very unique or incredible experiences with the business focus in the background. Not the other way around. Nintendo is an example of the former. Where every main Direct will have representatives go on screen with a big smile ready to sell you products but do it in a respectable way. There are no faces in the image of PlayStation, just words.
If this trend continues, they will eventually just be seen as a company creating a few “safe bet” games from their catalog. A rapid decay that we saw with Xbox during the previous generation where the mantra “Halo, Gears, and Forza” was as ever-present as the consistent mistakes they made.
I can only hope we do not start having discussions about a remake for Ghost of Tsushima or God of War 2018 in a year or two. As no game release should have its possible excitement diluted by a consistent justification of its existence.