Everyone was sure that Grand Theft Auto V would come to next generation consoles and PC. A lot of people said they’d wait for that. I was among them. The game looked amazing, almost as if it were made for a better class of systems and dumbed down for what was currently on the market. It had to be coming.
Rockstar stayed quiet. We got the same company line everybody gets: “no plans.” They just released their game and did what they should do: promotion and investment. As time went on without any hints from Rockstar, even the holdouts had to give in and buy to get into the action. Over time the online portion was perfected and allowed to grow.
Remasters were getting coverage as they were more or less found out about, well before being announced. Rockstar let things go so long fans were either willing to shell out for the inevitable upgraded version or figured original buyers would somehow be taken care of if they upgraded.
GTA V got the occasional update, keeping it in the news and on the minds of gamers. A fierce debate arose over graphical fidelity of other games vis-a-vis the new consoles. Then with a bang, after so many denials Rockstar crashed E3 (they never even show up) with the announcement the remaster everybody was hoping for was on the way. Not only that, but it would be coming with a bunch of great stuff! Remasters always tout the new graphical fidelity, and often come with the DLC but that’s it.
Rockstar dreamed a little bigger of course. If you’ve been following the news you know that returning customers from PS3 and Xbox 360 would be getting some exclusive activities, weapons, and vehicles as well as the ability to transfer their GTA Online profile over. The game itself wasn’t just upgraded to 1080p, it got some serious hands-on attention that enhanced the weather, the lighting and shading, plus terrain detail enhancements. If that weren’t enough we get an all new first person mode, which is apparently a much bigger deal than it sounds like.
If you watch any TV you’ve probably noticed a renewed commercial campaign. It helps to remember that this is an ad buy (one of the most expensive things a publisher can do) for a new version of an old game.
The preceding account is now the model for how to re-release an old game. I imagine it’s one that publishers and developers will be taking note of. I think what is going to make this a winner isn’t any one or two of the extras or PR moves but the sum of the parts. Leaving people hanging just long enough, incentives for early adopters, and enough new features to get interested in? They add up to a kind of psychological reassurance to get excited again over something already quite familiar. That makes it easy to depart with the required cash to partake in the experience again.
The net effect besides assured sales and greater success: nobody is complaining about the existence of this upgraded version the way they did about other game re-releases.