‘I think the age is part of its identity’
The first five years of the current generation of consoles have been littered with remasters of last-gen games. They’re popular, people haven’t played those games in a while, and they’re an easy way to make a buck. They make perfect sense as long as people keep buying them.
Bethesda Game Studios director Todd Howard doesn’t really want to chase that dragon. In an interview with The Guardian, Howard expressed his disinterest in remastering some of the studio’s older games by saying “I’m happy that you can play [The Elder Scrolls III] Morrowind now on an Xbox One, as it’s backwards compatible. I’m really happy that Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and others are making it easier for people to play [older games] as they were played at the time. I actually prefer that over remasters.”
Howard explains his logic by emphasizing that those older titles are a product of their time. They shouldn’t necessarily be gussied up to current standards. He continued “I’d rather you play Morrowind the way it was … I think the age is part of its identity.”
Bethesda has been remarkably restrained when it comes to remasters. As much as people yearn for a Fallout 3 or Fallout: New Vegas remaster, Bethesda hasn’t obliged. The obvious exception is the recent Skyrim remaster which Howard justifies by saying “We had done some work on it but it was already pretty visually close.” As far as more dated games go, his preference is to leave them alone.
Another interesting tidbit from the interview concerns Bethesda using outside studios as primary developers on its properties a la Obsidian making Fallout: New Vegas. Howard states: “I wouldn’t say never. [But] now that our company is so big, it’s always better to keep stuff internal … it becomes less likely, but I could never say never. I thought the Obsidian guys did a fabulous job.”