The nostalgia economy has been booming for a while. As millennials entered the workforce and found out that capitalism seems to have a special kind of hatred for our generation, we sought comfort in old brands that used to soothe us when we were growing up. Or more like brands decided to throw 90s nostalgia our way in a bid to try and make us feel better given how our rates of anxiety, depression and general mental wellbeing have gone into free-fall. The nostalgia economy has been marketing at its most ruthlessly efficient.
We’ve had endless reboots, remakes and reimagining of 90s brands and that has extended to the gaming industry through remastering. The biggest titles thus far have probably been the Yakuza series, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot and of course, Spryo. Yakuza showed that remastering for Playstation really could work in any game format and Crash and Spyro highlighted just how nostalgia in particular seemed to suit the remaster. We get classic kids games that make us feel good as adults. What’s not to love?
Apart from the fact that all Xbox fans everywhere are laughing their heads off right now at our shoddy customer experience. I game on multiple platforms but PlayStation has always been the console that has given me the best memories. But being a PlayStation customer is a complete rip off.
Gamers generally get an absolutely shoddy customer service experience. We are bled through the nose by an industry raking in billions each year. When customers are treated so shockingly, the animosity between gamers and developers starts to make a bit of sense. Complaining about not getting the ending of a game is completely low and out of order but this arguably has been a problem that executives have helped create by making gaming so inherently exploitative and capitalist to everyone who isn’t a CEO.
Gamers are constantly paying out – and not just small change either. There’s an inherent devaluing of gaming customers. We have to pay huge amounts for consoles which in a few years will become obsolete anyway, then there are games that can be up to £80 but then expect DLCs to be bought on top of that for the game to really be any good. There’s the subscription service to be able to online play which can be around £90 a year. There’s limited storage space on console and so you often have to buy extra space and there are no real perks to even pre-ordering. The gaming industry depends on pre-ordering and yet this doesn’t mean early copies of physical discs. It means getting it exactly the same time as everyone else (not even a day early) and the only bonus we might get is a free skin or player which would only be accessible through microtransactions, therefore encouraging us to start making in-game purchases. Long story short, gaming is incredibly expensive. It’s particularly insulting that there are no perks to pre-ordering. This isn’t a DVD. The games industry needs pre-orders and pushes them, and yet offers little value for that.
It’s in that context why it is difficult to get excited about remasters from PlayStation. One of my earliest gaming memories was of playing the third Spyro game. I had a bad head cold, which wasn’t nearly as bad as I pretended it was to my parents, and I basically spent a week off school gaming. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that it was an inspiring moment in my life, and a crushing one as I realised all I would ever want was to game but sadly, it is impossible to fake a permanent cold in life. I can’t even get time off with my chronic pain.
Spyro was amazing. I loved everything. The world was magical, the skateboarding remains one of the most fun levels I’ve ever experienced and I adored the euphoria of charging around as a purple goofball. I should be excited for the remastered trilogy, and I can barely manage a shrug.
The PlayStation 5 is likely to be out in the next couple of years and to be honest, I don’t think the PS4 has come close to its potential. It’s a great platform but I genuinely don’t believe it’s been given enough time to build up a great catalogue of games. A lot of the best PS4 games are remastered, because the PS3 games aren’t compatible. PS4 has had some great titles, the recent Spider-Man game included, but it also will feel a bit of a waste of time when the PS5 has not yet been confirmed as backward compatible. Xbox has already smashed this. Yes, it can be a convoluted process but it is possible to play old games on a new console. Right now, we don’t have that on PS4 which means I have three PlayStation consoles out to be able to access the games I want to. On top of that, PlayStation are engaging in yet another gimmick by creating a ‘PlayStation classic’ to be able to play old games right in time for Christmas. Oh, how thoughtful of them. We get a new old console to play the games that won’t work on their biggest console. The nostalgia economy is getting absurd.
Yes, Spyro might be a great trilogy right now but what about two years from now when the new console is out? Will we actually be able to play that? Or, in ten years from now, will we be getting a remastered remaster of Spyro? PlayStation have hinted backward compatibility may be coming but it is just a hint, and not a promise. All of the games companies make us pay out, but it does feel like Playstation are the most cynical of them all. At least Nintendo gives you wholesome content and a light box, even if they can’t sort out online play still. Xbox is looking at accessible gaming and controllers, and already allows people to play old games on the newest consoles. PlayStation is undoubtedly leading the way right now with titles, but the experience as a whole just leaves me feeling hollow. I love gaming, but I really don’t think the industry cares about gamers.