Since there are currently rumors that Bethesda is make a "remastered" Version of one of their games(most say Skyrim), I was wondering what exactly is "remastered"? And what's the difference to a "remake"? Same thing?

Or are there certain criteria for either one of them?

What kind of stuff would be expected in such versions? Most of the time the title now contains an HD for HD textures, but I always found that to be a rather weak selling point if that would be the only thing. Are there other improvements too?

Maybe some examples from different games?

For example, related to the naming problem: we have Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster and Age of Empires II Remake.

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    I doubt there is any standard. It's mostly marketing. – DJ Pirtu Jun 7 '16 at 10:36
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    @h0ch5tr4355 for me it's the opposite. In music, remastered means the mix was redone with newer technology, thus improving the quality of the sound. Remake to me seems like it's been recreated like the original game, but with features added and/or changed. – Chippies Jun 7 '16 at 10:50
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    @Chippies According to the answers and I recherched also a bit (e.g. dispatches.cheatcc.com/1073) more people see it like you. Nevertheless a highly-subjective topic imho. – h0ch5tr4355 Jun 7 '16 at 10:57
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    @Chippies I can see your point, but I do not trust whoever names video games to adhere to these very strictly. In an ideal world, this this would be true, but I fear that the reality is a coin toss. – DJ Pirtu Jun 7 '16 at 11:00
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    @h0ch5tr4355 If we suppose that words remake and remaster are transferred from music industry, the meaning is oposite to your explanation. Master is in this context the recording that will be copied. If something is remastered the master is repaired (suppressed noise, better balanced) or made from scratch with as few changes as possible. When remade the whole recording is made from scratch differently. So I understand remastered game using new engine, having better graphics and soud quality and remade as a new game based on same story telling. – Crowley Jun 7 '16 at 15:58
up vote 49 down vote accepted

Although it seems like the terms are often used interchangeably within the industry and marketing, there IS a technical difference between the terms:

A remake typically shares very little of the original assets and code with the original game, distinguishing it from an "enhanced port", partial remake, or remastering.

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_remake

In essence, the difference comes down to just how much of the original game code and assets are used, with a "Remastered" title only updating graphics, whilst a "Remake" could, potentially, include radical changes in gameplay.

An example of a game that has had its graphics redesigned is Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,[11] while the core character and level information is exactly the same as in Halo: Combat Evolved.[11][12][13]

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remaster#Video_games

To use the Bethesda example, Skyrim with updated graphics only would be considered a Remaster, whilst (and good god I personally want this to happen) a version of Morrowind with both updated graphics and a Skyrim-esque combat system would be considered a Remake.

Hope that helps.

UPDATE: Having asked a friend who used to work within the industry (on several remastered titles), he confirms this is the way it is supposed to be used. He also said, however, that even within development and testing the words were often used interchangeably both verbally and on documents.

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    +1 Remake, meaning "to make it again" versus remaster, meaning "to produce a (higher fidelity) primary recording". The very definitions, found in a dictionary, give us an idea of which word we should be using for which case. – phyrfox Jun 7 '16 at 17:12
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    Resident Evil is an example of a game that was remade, then remastered. The 2002 Gamecube version of Resident Evil was a remake of the Playstation original. The 2015 HD version was a remastered version of that remake. – Carl Fink Jun 7 '16 at 20:17

TL;DR: remaster=close to original, remake=close or far from original, depending.

These words are meant as analogies to the equivalent in music and films. In music, a remaster specifically means to put together a new "master copy", a recording from which all CDs, Tidal tracks etc will be made. When a song was produced, the vocals and instruments may all have been stored on different tapes, before being edited and processed into one single "master". remastering redo this job.

A "remake" on the other hand, is a new and independent recording of a film, based on an earlier film. When this happens to a brand, such as star-trek, we talk about a "reboot".

In games, a typical example of a remaster would be the new releases of Monkey Island. Gameplay-wise they are exact replicas of the old games, so much that you can switch between new and classic modes at a keypress. A "port" of a game to another platform would also be a remaster. An example of a remake would be Prince of Persia, where the basic concept of a jumping and slashing guy dressed as lawrence of arabia was kept, but the storyline and gameplay otherwise altered.

So.. Crystal clear? Unfortunately not. :-) These words are just analogies that people do with as they please. On wikipedia the article Video game remake use "remake" as I've used "remastered" here and use "reboot" for what I've called a remake. (Being part of a franchise is why you remake old stuff, hence the "reboot"="remake")

You can see the confusion in that Wikipedia has a List of video game remakes and these include several games with the word "remastered" in them, such as "Day of The Tentacle - Remastered" and "the last of us remastered".

"Remaster" would mean they took the original game (code+assets) and improved it somehow, usually by improving the graphics and/or adding compatibility with new hardware/OS, but possibly also adding features.

"Remake" means just what it sounds like, they completely remade the game from scratch.

The same applies to things like movies and music also.

It's easy to tell between Ramake and Remaster when thinking of movies.
they're either completely Remade or Improved on new technology.

Remake: Female Ghostbusters
Remaster: Ghostbusters 1984 Blu-ray

If DVD/Blu-ray players had become available/affordable back when they were only releasing movies on VHS, they'd have Remastered the best for DVD/Blu-ray release, not Remade them again with the same actors.


With video games, Remasters would typically mean the same engine/glitches with improved graphics/audio.

Remastered games:
Assassins Creed The Ezio Collection (II / Brotherhood / Revelations)
Burnout Paradise Remastered
Fable Anniversary
Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut / Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D / Majora's Mask 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD / The Wind Waker HD

Sometimes Remasters are so improved that they feel like Remakes:
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Halo 2 Remastered
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

This is just because today the standards are so improved.
They've Remade all the graphics, but not Remade the core engine. It has to be from scratch to be a Remake.

If they ever Remake WaW though, they're definitely gonna need to Remake it. (that old engine sucks)


GTA V and BO3 are also Remasters in comparison to their old gen releases. Same game, enhanced output. (But of course that isn't the typical example of Remasters, since there's no time frame between their releases)

Remade games:
Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
Resident Evil 1 and 2


Also Majora's Mask 3D has added features, like the Fishing Hole's. but it's still a Remaster if it has the same engine. Updates are just as much apart of the ~improvement. Otherwise Remakes would be easy.

Call of Duty also recreates multiplayer/zombie maps. Those maps themselves are Remakes.
They wouldn't be able to use old low poly/resolution data for today's standard.

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