I have noticed something recently. I guess I always knew it but with the push to game streaming, I have been thinking about it more. That is the countless video games that are no longer available for one reason or another. Games lost to time that we will never enjoy again.
It makes me sad that a big part of our history and culture is vanishing and few seem to care. There are already countless games that have died. We will never be able to play them again thanks to the many reasons listed below.
One issue is games that are exclusive to hardware that is no longer made. I was cleaning my home office over the weekend and packing boxes getting ready to move. That is when I notice some old PlayStation games. My original PlayStation went missing years ago when I let someone borrow it. Now I have these games with no way to play them and no way to share the joy I had playing them with my son as he gets older.
Sure, I could probably find an old PlayStation on eBay. But for how long? They do not make that hardware anymore and it will only become more and
Most old Arcade games not only run on custom hardware that you can no longer get. But a lot of these games were designed to kill themselves with a suicide battery if they detected something wrong.
There are already arcade games that have vanished from the face of the earth as far as we know. But there are people trying to preserve old arcade games and they have had some success!
Game Servers Going Offline
Another tragedy is when a game requires some form of internet connection to run. It is not a question of if the server will go offline just a matter of when.
The list of dead games because of offline servers is huge. I am not even going to try to list them. You can probably think of a hand full of them off the top of your head. The first ones that I think of are Warhammer Online and City of Heroes. But it is not limited to just
DRM Service going offline
I have seen a few game developers release one last patch to disable DRM or online requirements before they end support. But most do not. So when that server is gone the game is as well.
Lost access to game downloads
I remember buying a few games on the Nintendo Wii store years ago. But if I fire up my Wii now the store no longer works. As far as I know, there is no way to regain access to those games. This is the reason I stop buying games from the build-in console stores.
But the same thing can happen to any online store. I use Steam a lot and it has been very stable. But it is a private company owned by Gabe Newell. What if something happens to him or he decides to retire and sell off steam? Will the service keep running as it is?
What about the developers? Are there any plans in place for if a developer closes down? Like Telltale Games going bankrupt and all its games vanishing off Steam?
Lost Games to Legal Issues
Sometimes it is not even the online store’s fault. Sometimes licenses expire and the game can not be legally sold anymore. This happens way more then you might think.
The first example that comes to mine is the Deadpool game that is no longer available.
Lost Games Because of Developers and Publishers
Sometimes the developer decides to pull the game for one reason or another. Maybe 5 years from now someone decides your favorite game is no longer politically correct. So it is taken down. Crazier things have happened and I am sure they will happen again.
Why do I think about this stuff?
I don’t know. I was fortunate enough to be born in a time where I could grow up with video games. So I have developed a lot of memories around them. So that is why it seems kind of sad to me that so many games I got to enjoy are gone.
It would be nice if our gaming history could be preserved like other parts of our culture and history. I know https://archive.org/ is working on this. But there are legal barriers that hinder what they are able to do.
What can we do to save lost games?
I am not sure what we can do to save old games. But for starters, I try to support DRM free games and stores. I also stopped buying games from console stores. They always go offline when the console support ends.
I also try to support games that let the fans host their own servers. That way the game can live on if the company dies or decides it no longer wants to support the game.
Open source games are not really a thing but what if developers released source code before they abandoned a game? Then the community could keep it running. I think it is a cool idea anyway but I am not sure if that will ever catch on.