What is the difference between a game remaster, remake and reboot?

The difference between a game remaster, remake and reboot is mainly in the experience. So, nowadays, many people still have doubts when a game is released with some of these definitions.

To end these doubts, in this article we will explain the difference between remaster, remake and reboot.

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Using nostalgia for new experiences

Today, many industries have learned that playing with audience nostalgia is often a great idea. Two good examples of this are movies and games. While many old films gain new elements and improvements, others gain new versions, more modern and with new characters.

The same goes for games. Therefore, it is increasingly common to hear about releases of remaster (or remastered), remake or reboot games. In addition to the sentimental appeal of nostalgia, it is also a safe bet, as making a remaster or even a remake saves time and money, as they already have something practically ready.

And exactly for this reason, it is also common for the public to end up being a little confused by all these nomenclatures.

Today we are going to differentiate these types of games so that you can know what each one means.

What is remaster?


Remastering or remastering is without a doubt the most popular option these days. A remastered game is a game that has been improved from an aesthetic point of view, mainly. That is, companies take an older game and modernize the overall look and sound to make it feel like a newer game.

A remastered game is an improved game from a graphical point of view, mainly. It becomes better adapted to the most modern components like processors, screens and audio players. Most of the time one of the most notable changes is in the look of the characters, which become more realistic and with a higher quality.

But they do everything from the original game without changing the gameplay or the story of the game. It’s the same game, the only thing that changes is the look and sound. In some cases there are content changes, but they are very basic and smoother things, such as fixing a bug or technical error, an error in items such as translation or even when the studio removes some content that is inappropriate.

When the game undergoes changes in the narrative aspects, this is called rescripting, where they adapt the story but do not change it, that is, the game remains the same. Often the improvement is just a scene or another that improves the understanding of the story or even when they add some feature such as translation for some dialogues that were previously seen as secondary.


A recent example of remastering was the Spider-Man game, and from the images you can see how some things have changed, especially the look of the protagonist, Peter Parker.

What is a remake?

While the remaster only changes the overall look of the game, the remake means remaking the game from scratch. In this case, they take an already-made game and remake it from the beginning, but keeping some inspirations such as parts of the story, characters, setting and names.


However, for those who have played the original, playing the remake is a practically new experience, as they change a lot. It’s as if the studio made that game again, only as if it were made today, with the most modern elements available. The remake can bring new views of the game, the story, as well as new content such as stages and challenges.

They often even add new plotlines that improve the original story (or make it worse, depending on the player’s point of view). In addition to remaking the game, they obviously also include support for the most modern technologies such as new control schemes, improved visuals, all thinking about the most modern devices such as next-gen consoles.

An example in this case is Final Fantasy VII Remake, which is considered one of the best remakes in the gaming world today. Square Enix managed to greatly expand the story, separating it into episodes for the next-gen consoles, and bringing in more plot and more happenings.

What is a reboot?


A reboot game is a new game, that is, it is not based on any game already made, but it comes to bring a previous story of a game that is already consecrated. Usually a franchise. It’s like a restart of the franchise, at the same time keeping its basic characteristics, but bringing a whole new story, without being a continuation.

It’s a way of revamping a franchise that ended up becoming lukewarm, bringing something new to the public. A very recent example of a reboot is Saints Row. It arrives after Saints Row IV, but takes place before the events of the other games in the franchise, with totally new characters, although the essence of the game remains the same.

Sometimes the game doesn’t even need to have the exact same name as the franchise, just use its most important elements. This is the case of DmC, for example, released in 2013, which arrived as a totally new game and a reboot of Devil May Cry, belonging to the franchise, but with new aspects.

Other terms that may also be used

There are still other terms you can probably hear in the gaming industry. One of them is Demake, which is the inverse of Remake. While Remake reimagines the game on more powerful devices and technologies, Demake does the opposite. It takes current and modern games and reimagines them as they would have been if they were released in the past, with older platforms. These are usually experimental projects.

Some also use the term “soft reboot”, it is when the reboot is done keeping a little of the origins of the original franchise, that is, it is not a completely new game and still uses some aspects of the old franchise, such as the continuation of a plot, but with new clothes.

A term that has emerged nowadays is that of rebuilt, which ends up being a middle ground between remaster and remake. In fact, the rebuilt focuses on improvements to the game, but they end up going a little beyond just the visual and sound part, and can add some gameplay improvements. Generally it offers more serious graphical improvements, being able to change even the models of the characters and even rebuild a whole scenario, adding new information. Gameplay changes are very few yet, so it would be a beefier remaster.


Summary: difference between remaster, remake and reboot

So, in summary, we have the following:

One remastered game has practically the same gameplay experience as the original game, so it goes through graphical improvements, in the look of the scenarios and characters, in the sound, in the compatibility with more modern devices, but there are no changes in terms of story, plot and missions.

One remake game is completely changed, taking just the idea of ​​the original game and changing practically everything, from the graphics and visuals to even the plot and the stages and missions of the game. It can also change a point of view, particularly for older games.

already one reboot game it is also a completely new game, but that uses the brand and characters of an already known franchise. Most of the time it brings a game that takes place before the events of the original franchise, or tells a parallel story. In many cases, studios use this to renew and restart a franchise.

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