The lights are on
This console generation has become known for its plethora of remasters. Some, like The Last of Us and Grand Theft Auto V, have been solid updates to last generation's brightest games. Others haven't fared as well.
Right now, EA is the last big publisher to be staying away from that arms race. When I spoke with Patrick Soderlund, executive vice president for EA Studios at E3 2015, he emphasized that the company was looking ahead to new projects instead of dipping into the back catalog for remasters.
In the year since, that position has been reversed, as EA is now strongly considering a move into the remaster space. Of all the publisher's games, one series that stands out as having strong demand from fans: Mass Effect.
In our conversation at EA's Gamescom welcome event, Soderlund stopped short of confirming the remasters are coming, but he strongly hinted that they might be in the offing when we asked about BioWare's sci-fi trilogy specifically. Here's that segment of my interview:
Game Informer: One of the things I asked you last year when we sat down at E3 was about Mass Effect. At the time, there were two publishers that hadn't really dipped into the remaster world: you and Activision. Activision has since released a number of remasters or ports, and now they are working on a full-on remaster for MW. Revisiting this as the last man standing on remasters, has anything changed? Like a Mass Effect trilogy remaster?
Soderlund: What's changed is that there is proof in the market that people want it, maybe more than there was when we spoke. There were some that did it before, but I think there is even more clear evidence that this is something that people really want. The honest answer is that we are absolutely actively looking at it. I can't announce anything today, but you can expect us most likely to follow our fellow partners in Activision and other companies that have done this successfully.
Despite the strong desire from the market for remasters of popular games like Mass Effect, the decision isn't an easy one. Soderlund told me that there are a number of factors EA is considering so it doesn't make a mistake.
"We have to be careful in choosing the right brands for the right reasons at the right time," he explained. "A remaster is something that you can just do or do it really well. I want to make sure that if we were to do it, we would do it really well and that people feel that it's the same game but it feels so much better in this new shape and form. There have been titles that have come out that have done it really well, and there have been others that maybe haven't done it so well. We just want to make sure that we stay in the 'done it really well' camp."
With Mass Effect Andromeda on the way, the timing seems like it might be perfect to revisit Commander Shepard's adventure. EA says that Andromeda is still on track to make its current release window, though fans have expressed concern since the public hasn't seen gameplay yet.
"You'll get [your first look at gameplay] in the not too distant future," Soderlund said when I inquired about the game's absence from E3 and Gamescom. "I get people want to see gameplay and I just came back from a short vacation and I played through the first three hours of the game. It's very playable, and there is no alarm about, 'Why aren't they showing it?' It's strictly that the game will get the right type of exposure at the right time and that we can the right voice for it. Right now we're focused on our big titles for [October through December], and when that's done, we'll shift to Mass Effect. You'll see a lot more very shortly."