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Keep 'em coming: why I like enhanced re-releases of games
by Andrew Testerman

Back at Comic-Con, Capcom announced that they will be releasing a new, upgraded version of Marvel vs. Capcom 3, entitled Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, kitted out with additional characters, stages, and gameplay balances. This is the latest in a series of enhanced re-releases to be sold at a discounted price, hot on the heels of Super Street Fighter IV and BlazBlue: Continuum Shift, along with many other DLC compilation releases, such as Burnout Paradise: The Ultimate Box and Game of the Year Editions, for titles like Borderlands. Whilst some consider these types of releases to be publisher cash-ins, designed to take advantage of series fans, I personally love the idea of enhanced re-releases, and want to see more of them in the future.

Enhanced re-releases are nothing new. Capcom released as many as three different ports of Street Fighter II for the SNES (not counting all of the different arcade iterations), and gave the first two Resident Evil games a special DualShock update. During the previous console generation, many games' Greatest Hits editions came with entirely new content and areas, such as Devil May Cry 3: Dante’s Awakening’s rebalanced difficulty and additional playable character, or Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition’s new Tokyo area.

For me, enhanced re-releases are a great way to catch up on an old game. As a well-informed but generally broke gamer, I continually read about games I want to play, but never actually get to purchase. Enhanced re-releases provide me with an opportunity to experience some of the older, better titles released during the year, as well as an incentive to do so; not only do they contain more content than the original title launched with, but they’re often sold at a discounted price, lowering the barrier for entry and making the title seem even more attractive.

Borderlands, the sort of DLC-heavy game to which the enhanced re-release format is perfectly suited.

In particular, I rather appreciate Game of the Year bundles, especially for DLC-heavy titles like Borderlands and Dragon Age: Origins. Fans that have already purchased the game won’t miss out on anything by passing these games by; they’re merely a copy of the original title, with all of the downloadable content previously released included in the packaging. For someone like me who hasn’t had the chance to dive into the original release, though, they’re an incredibly convenient and tempting collection.

But what about editions that add new, exclusive content, like the aforementioned Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3? After all, many fans complained that Super Street Fighter IV should have implemented its changes through a DLC update instead. Personally, I don’t think massive changes are as easy to implement via DLC as some players do, especially when it comes to tricky issues like game-balancing. Plus, with the wealth of content generally offered by today’s enhanced re-releases - new game modes, new stages, new characters - a full release makes more sense, and is likely to sell better than similarly-priced DLC.

This is what it’s all about, after all – selling as many copies of a piece of content as possible, and keeping the company afloat. It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that the video game industry is a business, but that’s exactly what it is, and enhanced re-releases are an excellent business decision, allowing publishers to finance other, riskier ventures in the gaming space. As gratifying as it may be to cry foul over company 'greed' or 'cashing-in', repurposed, updated versions of titles like Resident Evil 5 or Battlefield: Bad Company 2 ultimately help contribute to projects less likely to sell in the millions.

Re-releases of blockbuster titles, like Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (above) are often deemed to be 'cash-ins', but often actually fund the development of new, experimental projects.

Having said that, I can understand why enhanced re-releases can be rankling to certain gamers. Some GOTY editions can bungle their execution entirely, including options even rabid fans may be indifferent towards; Batman: Arkham Asylum’s GOTY edition included stereoscopic 3D and four new Challenge Maps; whoop-de-doo. I also don’t think that every game needs an enhanced re-release, especially story-driven games like Uncharted or Assassin’s Creed, which would likely see their narratives suffer due to the possibility that the extra content may not reach every player. Generally, the games that benefit the most from this iterative form of distribution are titles with a much more mechanical focus, like racing or fighting.

When they’re done right, though, enhanced re-releases can offer some of gaming’s best bang-to-buck ratio. As long is the content is worthwhile, and the price is right, enhanced re-releases will always be a welcome addition to the gaming landscape.

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- Andrew Testerman

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