Thursday, June 1, 2023

Enough of profiting from nostalgia for classic video games, please

SEGA confirmed that next June 23 will arrive sonic origins, a compilation with the first four games (remastered) of the blue hedgehog for PC, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. So far, everything normal. After all, this release had been announced in May of last year and since then the news had been conspicuous by its absence. However, when the prices were known, it did not take long for the criticism to appear, and with good reason. Is that the packs will be available only in digital format, and to get the “full experience” you will have to pay 45 euros for the Deluxe version. Thus, the question becomes unavoidable: To what extent do companies have free rein to profit openly from nostalgia for classic video games?

Unfortunately, in recent years this has become an increasingly common thing to see. What at first seemed like the ideal way—or the perfect excuse—to celebrate the legacy of titles, characters, and consoles of yesteryear has quickly become in the new goose that lays the golden eggs of the video game industry. And that is not good because it is not only played with the players’ pockets, but mainly with their feelings.

There will be those who say that my approach is naive or innocent, but what is nostalgia without that share of naivety or innocence? What is the point of yearning with reliving the experiences that made us happy during our childhood or youth, then? It is more than clear that everyone does with their money what they want; And those who consider that it is not worth paying a significant amount for this type of relaunch have a point as valid as those who do choose to do so, even though they know that what they obtain will surely not differ too much from what they could experience with an emulator like the MAME on any PC.

What the public is looking for is the added value that — at least in theory — only the original developer can give a historic game remaster. The problem is that many times this added value is scarce, poorly focused, or does not exist at all. And when that happens, not even nostalgia as such is enough to avoid discomfort.

Nostalgia for classic video games is the new goose that lays the golden eggs

nostalgic |  classic video games
Image: Nintendo

Let’s take the case of Nintendo, to analyze one of the most recent. In September 2021, the Japanese company announced that would add titles of the mythical N64 to Nintendo Switch Online, your subscription service. Among the video games there were classics like mario kart 64, Super Mario 64, The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Y Star Fox 64, among others. However, the big impact was the inclusion of a selection of games from SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive -with Sonic 2 Y Castlevania: Bloodline to the head-; as well as the launch of new controls for the Switch inspired by those of the aforementioned consoles.

But the prices of this so-called Expansion Pack many did not like them. It is that those who wanted to enjoy Nintendo 64 and SEGA Genesis games on the Switch had to pay from 30 to 45 dollars on top of your existing annual subscription. And to that they added another 50 bucks for each allegorical command that is desired to obtain.

As I indicated before, it is clear that this is a business and that everyone is free to be part of it or not. Nintendo and SEGA, the companies involved in this case, are free to charge whatever they see fit for their intellectual property. And if they put such high prices it is because they know there are enough nostalgia-hungry people interested in paying themregardless of the reviews.

The problem appears when the experience with the final product is severely different from what is promised to the users. As soon as the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack was released, social networks were plagued with complaints because the emulation was simply a disaster. The graphic section did not even resemble that of the original games (the most emblematic case was that of the absence of fog in The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Timewho shot a separate discussion), and in some titles it was practically impossible to play without the controls that were sold separately.


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