Next-Gen Ports – Good or Bad?
A Worrying Trend or A Convenient Feature?
Games that have been ported to the Xbox One and PS4 from their previous counterparts are becoming an increasingly common occurrence. Some see this as simply a quick and relatively easy way to earn cash for publishers or a chance to give a game a second life of sorts. Others, welcome some ports because it allows them as gamers to play a game they may have missed, often also gaining the relevant DLC bundled as well in an affordable package. So are they a bad idea, or not? As is often the case, the answer lies somewhere in between.
One high-profile example of a port to next generation is the acclaimed Playstation title The Last of Us. The re-release has been very popular selling millions and allowing many who may have missed the title to see what all the fuss is about while tempting fans of the PS3 version with improved graphics and a few new features such as a photo mode. Unlike some ports, Naughty Dog chose not to offer a discount for those upgrading from PS3 as some games have done. This is usually a good move because it sweetens the deal for those on the fence about picking up the upgraded version. However, for a game as successful as The Last of Us this wasn’t really a necessity because of its quality and the positive word of mouth that surrounds the game. The PS4 version of The Last of Us appears to be a port done right then, offering not just a visual improvement but new features too for a game that is truly worth playing more than once. Nevertheless, some gamers are very negative when it comes to any kind of port, claiming they want new experiences not just a rehash of their previous experiences from last generation. Do these people have a point?
Well, yes and no. Should they feel entitled to new experiences on the next generation of consoles they forked out for? Absolutely. Most gamers are still waiting for that true next-generation gaming experience. The problem is that developing for a new platform takes time. The developers have to get used to the new systems and maximizing their potential. Consequently many of the games that are appearing on Xbox One and PS4 at the moment are indie titles and ports/re-releases. Not a problem in itself when bigger games are in the pipeline but understandably frustrating for early adopters and those who want more from their new hardware (To see a preview of these games from Gamescom click here). And, to be fair, some ports are genuinely puzzling. Were there many clamoring for a re-release of Sleeping Dogs? Is Tomb Raider a game that greatly benefits from the power of Xbox One and PS4? Probably not. These are examples of publishers likely jumping on the bandwagon. From a business perspective it makes sense: re-releases and ports are not as time-consuming or costly as making a new game and allows a title to gather that extra revenue that it might not have achieved upon its original release. Some, perhaps rightly, claim this is unoriginal and uncreative of developers and publishers.
On the other hand, for a niche of gamers, ports are a blessing. Due to the lack of backwards compatibility of the new consoles and those gamers switching platforms, some people are pleased about this. Having owned an Xbox 360 and planning on purchasing a PS4, I fall into this category and personally can’t wait to play through games such as The Last of Us. Living in Europe, Playstation Now is a long way off and looks to be a fairly costly choice. It is unclear at this stage how easy streaming of games will be or if ports or re-releases are our best bet. And I’m not alone in this desire, especially after Microsoft’s mixed messaging led a significant portion of gamers to move to the Playstation platform. Despite this, I recognize this subsection of gaming is in the minority overall and most gamers don’t want to relive their past gaming experiences.
Whether you like them or not, ports/re-releases are here to stay for the near future. This trend will likely lose some steam once truly next-generation games are released. Upcoming titles such as Destiny and Assassins Creed Unity should help those desperate for new experiences on the Xbox One and PS4 but in the meantime as long as people continue to purchase ports/re-releases, they will likely become a mainstay of this next generation.
But what do you think of ports/re-releases? Have you enjoyed any recently? Do you think they are a good idea for gamers?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments at the bottom of this page.