Are You Part of the Problem?

How many times have you bought Skyrim? Statistically, there’s a good chance the answer is actually more than once. Possibly even more than twice. Bethesda’s epic is over a decade old, yet its most recent release was in November 2021 – just four months ago. A follow-up was announced at E3 back in 2018, but the studio has yet to show us anything of it. And why would they, when we won’t stop buying the last one? Its world is still one of gaming’s best, so how can we resist seeing it through a slightly higher resolution lens just one more time?

At 8 years old GTA V is a comparative spring chicken, but this week saw the release of its third iteration in the guise of a newly remastered PS5 and Xbox Series S/X edition. Less than a day after launch, articles reporting how “pathetic” the port is appeared online – citing minimal visual improvements, glitches, and save-transfer issues. Rockstar has been quick to promise fixes – almost like they knew it was coming… but it’s not good. Still, that £8.75 upgrade price on PS5 is mighty tempting, right?

This isn’t Rockstar’s first rodeo either. The snappily named Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy: The Definitive Edition recently bundled three of the most-loved titles in the series together, dropped them into a vast sea of bugs and glitches and left them to fend for themselves. It was a mess, but I’ve been close to buying it myself on numerous occasions, and at some point I most definitely will. Reportedly, despite the huge backlash it received, 10 million people already have.

Rockstar and Bethesda aren’t the only culprits, of course. Nintendo have a pretty torrid record of treating their library with no respect too. Last year’s Super Mario 3D All-Stars Collection packaged Mario 64, Sunshine and Galaxy together into one neat package – what a thought! But the cheap ports and minimal enhancements left a sour taste. Even worse, Nintendo made it clear at release that the collection would only be available to purchase for 6 months before being removed from sale entirely. Buy it now – they said – you won’t get another chance. Similarly, the Nintendo Switch Online service was met with excitement when it was first revealed, but the selection of NES and SNES games was slim for the yearly fee being asked for, and the simple rom dumps were about as devoid of effort as it gets. In October, the Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pak launched, adding N64 and Mega Drive games to the service – for an additional fee. Paying extra for more content is nothing new, of course, but the state some of these games launched in again highlighted the company’s lack of respect for its own classics. But really, who can say no to portable Ocarinas and F-Zeros?

It’s a sad state of affairs when companies can take advantage of our love by selling us the same games over and over again, and even worse when they are so blatantly lazy about it. But if we keep buying these shoddy versions and cheap ports, publishers will keep making them. And can we blame them?

Ok, confession time; I’ve bought three versions of Skyrim – I’ve never completed it once. I own the Mario 3D All-Stars Collection and I subscribe to NSO + Expansion Pak – what can I say, I love 3D Marios and N64 games. I don’t own the new GTA V or the GTA Trilogy, but I will at some point. These games are classics, and despite already owning the originals I want to play them on modern hardware that’s actually plugged into my TV.

I’m part of the problem. I hate that I am, but I can’t deny it. Given the astonishing numbers these games shift, you probably are too.

This article is an extract from The Week in Games newsletter.

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