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Kotaku Asks: How Soon Is Too Soon For A Video Game Remaster Or Remake?

How much time has to pass before it becomes acceptable to remaster or even remake a game? 10 years? 15 years? What about three-ish years? Is that enough time between the original and the remaster? Well, that’s what’s happening early next year as Naughty Dog is remastering 2020’s The Last of Us Part II. 

How Alan Wake 2 Builds Upon The 'Remedy-Verse'

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Let’s back up real fast. In case you missed the news last week, The Last of Us Part II Remastered leaked online. Shortly afterward, Naughty Dog confirmed the game was real and would be released on January 19, 2024.

After the leak and then the official confirmation from Naughty Dog, there was of course excitement from Last of Us fans—which there are probably more of today than ever before thanks to the HBO show—who couldn’t wait to re-experience the critically acclaimed sequel. But there were also a lot of people who weren’t sure if this game needed to be remastered. Others questioned if this was even a traditional remaster or just a next-gen upgrade. Things got murkier when Naughty Dog revealed that owners of The Last of Us Part II on PS4 could spend $10 to upgrade to the remastered version on PS5. Hmmm…

PlayStation / Naughty Dog

Let’s assume for the moment that this is a remastered game and not just an upgrade, which is how Naughty Dog and Sony are marketing it. The game’s recent release does beg the question of how soon we need video game remasters. I don’t think anybody—outside of purists—would deny that popular games from the ‘90s or even the early ‘00s deserve a fancy remaster. But a game from 2020 being remastered in 2023 seems too soon. Then again, it seems impossible to set a specific time requirement for remasters or remakes (and, unrelatedly, trying to define those terms in 2023 is getting harder and harder, too).

Should remasters only happen a decade or more after the original game’s launch? Then that would mean EA and Bioware jumped the gun with 2012’s Mass Effect 3, which was partially remastered as part of 2021’s Legendary Edition. But was that even a remaster? And are there factors other than simply the passage of time that should be considered?

In that case, for instance, the technical leap between an Xbox 360 game and an Xbox One/Xbox Series X/S game seems large enough to warrant a touch-up. In comparison, a PS4 game being remastered for PS5 doesn’t seem as necessary, though I imagine diehard fans longing for a better-looking version of Last of Us Part II would disagree.

So we leave it up to you in the comments below. You tell us (and other readers) if The Last of Us Part II Remastered is happening too soon or not, and why you feel that way. How long should developers wait before remastering a game and why?

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