Are ported games bad for the industry?

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Are ported games bad for the industry?

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I recently “went next-gen”. It took me some time to decide which console to get but having finally plumped for the PS4 I set about choosing what games to purchase with it. Suffice to say I wasn’t exactly inundated with options. The library of games available for the next-gen consoles is still pretty threadbare, and it looks set to stay that way until the end of this year at least.

One of the games that I completely ignored during my search was the PS4 version of last year’s Tomb Raider. Why would I buy a game that I’d already played? I just bought a new console for crying out loud! But that hasn’t stopped Square Enix releasing it again. Their reasoning being that this is a brand new edition of the game with improved graphics, gameplay and features. But is it, really? Of course it isn’t. It’s simply a lazy port of a game that will only be bought by those who missed out on it first time around.

Porting happens all the time, whether it’s from PC to console, one rival console to another or in this case from a last-gen console to a newer model. It’s the latter which raises concerns. At a time when consumers have forked out hundreds for their state-of-the-art machines it can be pretty galling to see old, rehashed games come out instead of new, exciting IPs. You could be forgiven for wondering what the point is in buying a next-gen console during its first year of existence.

And why do developers waste valuable time and resources porting over a game like Tomb Raider when they could spend it working on something new? We want original experiences, ones that weren’t available in the last-generation. Experiences like Titanfall, like Infamous: Second Son and like, erm. And if games are to be ported over then don’t insult our intelligence by offering “new experiences” when all we’re getting is the same game with a fresh lick of paint.

 

 

The Orange Box, now that was an example of a ported game (Half-Life 2) done correctly, and even today, seven years on, it’s fetéd as one of gaming’s greatest ever packages. It had extra content, an improved version of the original game, and retailed as a standard edition into the bargain. So even if you’d played Half-Life 2 on your old console you were still content to fork out for this new version. I can only hope the forthcoming PS4 edition of The Last of Us (a game I haven’t yet played) offers half that kind of value for money.

The fact is though that we are likely to see quite a few more ported games during the early years of this current generation. GTAV? The Mass Effect series? Dark Souls II? Some will be more well received than others, that will depend on whether they’re shameless cash-ins or not. And gamers, frustrated at the lack of new content on their new consoles, will buy these old games merely to tide them over until the trickle of blockbuster titles turns into a flood. Developers know this, they’re determined to squeeze every last drop out of these old games before providing us with the new stuff we’ve been waiting for.

You could argue that this doesn’t really hurt anyone, after all if you don’t want to buy these ported games then you don’t have to. But until we see more next-gen exclusives these ported titles are going to be viewed with no little suspicion by a gaming community starved of new IPs.

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