E3 2015 has witnessed a new trend for old things in gaming. Let’s make it simple: nostalgia sells, or at least seems to have a great impact on gamers in terms of announcements. We will see if it will actually work when talking about sales but, for example, Microsoft bets big on the backward compatibility on Xbox One in order to convince Xbox 360 owners to buy a current-gen console.
Sony, instead, looks forward to remasters, remakes and returns of older games to win the console war between the end of 2015 and 2016. And I won’t count in Nintendo, which is used to work on historic IPs and, even though slowly introducing new games from time to time, will keep following this path next year.
So, let’s take a look at a few reasons why I say Microsoft and Sony are pointing on the nostalgia effect for the next couple of years, and what impact will this have on the video
It was Microsoft’s surprise announcement for the latest E3. Backward compatibility allows Xbox One users to play their Xbox 360 games, both digital and on a disc, thanks to a software solution that will bring about old 200 titles on the current-gen console by Holiday 2015. It is now available for Preview Program members, with almost 20 games ready to
test, and as seen on Mass Effect it looks able to improve their performances.
In concrete terms, backward compatibility is Microsoft’s latest move to prevent Xbox 360 users to adopt PlayStation 4 this holiday season as, it seems, is happening right now. Shall it be enough? Well, more than a nostalgic affair, I consider backward compatibility something like a “bonus” being delivered to the loyal Xbox fanbase. What actually brings
you users are new games, new things players can dream about, just like it was with Gears of War with Xbox 360, and third party support. While lacking third party deals such as DLC timed exclusivity, Xbox One is fine with games – many renown franchises will be back in 2015 – and especially new properties for next year.
Just when you thought it was over, here we have an entire new wave of remasters for 2015, filling up at the last minute those holes in first party lineups. E3 2015 wasn’t immune from this trend that has had a huge impact on PS4 and Xbox One and remasters like Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection
will be coming later this year.
Excitement is the right thing when talking about, for example, Gears of War Ultimate Edition: it’s the original Gears for Xbox One, so shut and take my money, ok. It’s going to release already in August, which is great, but I can’t help thinking that a new IP or the very Gears of War 4 could have been in that spot. I mean, what a great world would be if new games could be released just a few weeks after their announcement. Just as Gears of War Ultimate Edition and other remasters, or Fallout 4. But that’s another story, I guess.
FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE
Sony decided not to leave its comfort zone at E3 2015 and wanted to concentrate all of the people’s attention on three announcements that they were sure would have had an impact on us. Final Fantasy VII Remake is the first of those announcements. Fans have been asking for a remake of Final Fantasy VII for years, so here we are, we can’t even complain
that too many old games are invading stores shelves nowadays.
Square Enix has finally decided to go and work on this kind of productions, so we will have to face not only new and more realistic graphics, which could be very harmful to the visual style of the original game, but also changes on storyline and characters. Is Final Fantasy XIII’s Square Enix up to that challenge? I will leave them work and hope everything goes right but, if you want my opinion, I truly believe Final Fantasy VII didn’t need a remake – it needed a proper game to take its heritage and bring it in an entirely new, 2016 production. Unless Final Fantasy VII ends up being a true masterpiece, we will all be busy claiming that “the original was better, I said it”, which is not that great perspective.
THE LAST GUARDIAN
It’s the first time ever or so we have a game being a classic before it’s actually out. The Last Guardian is quite a unique case in the video game industry: it’s back after six years of wait, hype and expectations, but it feels like we already knew it, like the game we have seen running for the first time ever on a PlayStation 4 is the sequel of a title we have already played and loved.
Instead, we know nothing about The Last Guardian: we know it’s going to release in 2016, even though Sony isn’t sure about this, again, and that Ico and Shadow of the Colossus’ Fumito Ueda is back at the game director role he held at the beginning of the development stage. Sony was in the bad position where it couldn’t scrap the project: they had a promise made to PS3 era’s gamers and cancelling it would have shown incoherence with the claim “this is for the players”, negative reactions from gamers included.
It’s amazing, anyway, that feeling of nostalgia the game carries over. It’s something we can only witness with old games getting back to life with new editions or remasters and reboot. Next year we will see if this sensation is positive for The Last Guardian or will end up harming the game on both graphics and gameplay aspects.
After a remake and a resurrection, we have a new game, which comes from an unexpectedly returning series, called Shenmue 3. The nostalgia effect in here is heavy: people has desired and long asked for the trilogy to come to an end, with SEGA disappointing fans because of its lack of interest in the franchise and Yu Suzuki secretly nurturing the idea of a third chapter to be made sooner or later.
Well, the time has come, and the wait of almost 15 years is over. Coming from the past, the Shenmue 3 project has been made possible only thanks to the future of funding, crowd-funding. Suzuki brought the game on Kickstarter where – with the help of Sony, that has contributed to the making of the crowd-funding campaign and will publish the PS4 version – it reached about $3 million in a few hours. It was amazing but, with Shenmue 2 costing a whopping $70 million at the time, it’s hard to believe this Kickstarter campaign is something more than a way to test people’s interest for the game. On the contrary, I would be worried about its quality and scope.
As you can see, the main E3 2015 announcements arrive from the past. This trend, started with remasters, should not scare you until Microsoft and Sony are not promoting it just not to take risks on new tools, programs, game properties. They have both used us to longer console lifecycles, so 2016 could just be the real beginning for this generation, the year when we will check and evaluate how they are working for the gamers. Nostalgia sells, but on the long run people could get tired of it.