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Remasters, Remakes and Reboots Stay Hot Among Video Gamers

3 minute read | August 2021

The global video game industry has matured incredibly since its early years, but that has not eroded gamer interest in titles that have been around since the early days of modern consoles. Much like we see in Hollywood, the library of remasters, remakes and reboots is continually growing, engaging both gamers seeking nostalgia as well as many who hadn’t even been born when the originals were released.

But game remakes do more than engage adults who grew up with titles that are now household names. They’re big money makers. Digital revenue for the top remakes nearly doubled between 2018 and 2020, and remake earnings surged in 2020 as familiar brands soared in popularity as people spent much of the year at home. Well-known game franchises like Mario Kart, Call of Duty, Smash Bros., Madden NFL, Assassin’s Creed and Dragon Ball were all among the 20 top-selling games last year.

We know that video game engagement skyrocketed last year, but the engagement spread well beyond dedicated gamers. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), there are nearly 227 million video game players across the U.S. And while people 18-34 account for the largest group of players (38%), the ESA reports that 14% of players are 35-44 and 12% are 45-54. Additionally, 74% of parents report playing games with their kids. Not only does this highlight the broad appeal of gaming, but it highlights the engagement among consumers who will be familiar with nostalgic game titles, given the likelihood that they were exposed to them or played them as kids.

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD is the latest offering in the remaster/remake/reboot group, and it hit the market on July 16 for Nintendo Switch. While the original Legend of Zelda dates back to 1986, this offering is a high-definition remaster of the Skyward Sword installment of the franchise that came out for the Wii back in 2011. While the remake is largely unchanged from the original in terms of story and game play, it still landed on the top 15 list of most-anticipated games in the remastered, remade and reboot titles of the past eight years, among those that were tracked in Nielsen Video Game Tracking (VGT) data. The top spot belongs to Final Fantasy VII Remake, which, unlike The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD, includes a significant amount of new game content. The remake came out last year, 23 years after the original Final Fantasy VII debuted.

While The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword HD came in at the No. 12 spot on the chart of most anticipated remaster/remakes/reboot games above, it took the top spot among the 11 titles expected to come to market in July 2021. Coming in with a Game Rank  of 90, the title was more anticipated than an array of new titles, including Sniper Elite VR, Monster Hunter 2: Wings of Ruin and Samurai Warriors 5.


Nielsen Game Rank data indicates where a game ranks in terms of overall pre-launch anticipation from consumers, relative to previous releases on the same platform(s).

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