'Cyberpunk 2077' And How We All Got Conned into Endlessly Rebuying Games

One of the great traditions in video games has been The Cycle. No medium moves alongside the advancement of technology the way games do, which is very convenient for companies who sell gaming hardware, because it means they can sell you a new box again. And shucks, it turns out that the new box can’t play your old games. Hey, would you like to buy them again? We’d be happy to bring them over, they say, so long as you'll pay again.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4agq49/cyberpunk-2077-endlessly-rebuying-games-xbox-ps5
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Whilst I know people do this… I have barely ever, mainly due to my tendency to not have consoles.

I rebought one or two old games from the 1990s on Steam whilst they were super-discounted, just to avoid having to copy them from CD or floppy disks all the time. But I am pretty sure that every other game I have bought on an earlier platform (mostly Amiga) I just got floppy images for. After all, I already own the data on them…

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<Insert obligatory Skyrim joke here>

I like Patrick a lot and I’ve followed him from Kotaku to here, but I think I disagree with this article for two reasons.

  1. Upgrading your game to run on a new console isn’t free. I’m sure there are examples that were very cheap, but it’s still a business proposition. The company did new work on the game and it is running on a different service. That’s a new product. If they want to charge for it I have trouble begrudging them that. They’re also delivering you convenience, which I again think is reasonable to charge for.

  2. If you want to play old games, as ever, you can play them on the console you used to run them on. My Wii still works, so I don’t need a re-release of Mario Galaxy. But even if my Wii didn’t work and I want to play Mario Galaxy, I don’t think I deserve to get a hypothetical Switch version for free because I bought it 11 years ago. It’s inconvenient to play my old game, and a remake is a product serving my need for convenience.

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From what I’ve heard and experienced, with regards to the Xbox side at least, it’s absurdly easy to port your game to all modern (and future) iterations of Xbox.
Hell, even with XCloud stuff, MS has been showing games working on xcloud to devs who have put zero effort in to making it work.

It’s almost the same packaging for bringing games to the Windows 10 store. I don’t know how they did it, but it probably involved sacrificing a goat.

It’s still not completely zero effort in the end because you still gotta make sure it works in a variety of situations, but the work they’ve put in to help the devs out is unbelievable, honestly.

If publishers don’t want to put in the effort for any game released on the Xbox one to also be up-ported to the new Xbox, more and more it sounds like that’s a simple business decision and not actually a problem with the development team.

I can’t speak for how that’ll work on other systems, but I haven’t heard anything even half as promising.

As someone in the middle of writing software that is supposed to run on multiple flavors of hardware, pulling that off costs a not-insubstantial amount of money. I can understand if you don’t want the consumer to shoulder that burden, but that money has to come from somewhere.

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I think I especially take issue with the word “con.” It isn’t a con, it’s a new / iterated upon product.

Thanks for your perspective.

@AxelAodh

If it’s really easy on MS I can understand frustration from consumers if you’re getting charge full price, but porting still requires a bunch of testing (as you said) and it’s a non zero sum.

There’s also some gray area between a full-scale remake and a port. In the case of Bayonetta or Darksiders 1, they have backwards compatibility support on Xbox One, but are still constrained by render resolution* and/or framerate caps which can be adjusted for the remaster version.

Even if the PS5 has full native backwards compatibility with all the hardware enhancement features of the XBX, a game like Bloodborne will still have a cap of 30 frames, and will probably require putting out a new version to remedy that. They could put out that version for free, but that’s paid labor for not much benefit.

*the BC version of Darksiders has an XBX enhancement but that’s 4K upscaling rather than an inherent render change

The other side of the story is labor. As folks in this thread have mentioned, the creation and testing of compatibility updates isn’t easy, even between similar platforms. An excellent and under-reported example is the ongoing decimation of the iOS App Store. When incompatible changes are made to the iOS platform, developers are forced to decide whether to spend possibly months reworking each old game, or let them drop off the store and lose whatever income they were still making. For games without perpetual monetization it’s often not worth the expense.

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Right, and this a big problem for even maintaining the availability of the history of video games. [At least, on consoles, which tend to be closed systems which are harder to legally emulate than historical general purpose computers].

I’m a little mixed on this. I think there’s a pretty significant difference between something like Cyberpunk 2077 where, to greatly oversimplify, it’s a matter of compiling the medium-settings version for XB1 and the ultra-settings version for XBSX. Charging full price to “upgrade” in that situation does feel pretty sleazy. Contrasted with something like Resident Evil 4, which was originally made in 480p for the freaking Gamecube, and I think is pretty reasonable to charge for a PS4 version as if it’s a more-or-less new game. (Worth noting that remakes like this usually aren’t priced as if the are brand new games.)

Then there’s things like The Last of Us Remastered. I have no idea how hard it was to port something that was spec’d very specifically for a confusing mess of a console.

The thing I always try to consider is whether these things would even exist under a different model. Fortunately, there already is a model - PC exclusives. How many PC exclusives have gotten free graphics and/or performance updates for 15 years? Any? Would there be a 1080p/60 version of Resident Evil 4 available now if everyone who had ever bought it before got it for free?

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With regards to The Last of Us Remastered, it’s a little bit more complicated because it was a tech loss leader for Naughty Dog to get them set up for Uncharted 4. But suffice it to say it wasn’t free.

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Well, those PC games where there’s a modding scene have gotten various updates over the years (and often still work on modern hardware, as opposed to console exclusives).
In cases where their creators did the moral thing and open sourced their engines after a suitable period, they’ve also been supported by the community and even have updated engines and assets (just look at, say, Doom, Quake (1 through 3)…)