If you’re into video games, you’ve probably come across the term “video game preservation.” While the notion is self-explanatory, there are several aspects to consider regarding video game preservation.
Let’s look at video game preservation, how it’s done, and why it’s so vital.
What Is the Purpose of Video Game Preservation?
Video game preservation ensures that older video games are available and playable in the future. While video game preservation is similar to other types of media preservation, it comes with its own set of obstacles.
Video Game Preservation Types
Let’s look at some different types of video game preservation and some instances of how they work in practice to learn more.
Emulation of video games
Emulation is one of the most used methods for preserving video games. An emulator is a piece of software or hardware that mimics the behavior of another console.
You can, for example, download a Super Nintendo emulator for your computer and play Super Nintendo games just like you would on a real SNES. This, however, raises legal concerns. While emulator software is legal, you must have ROMs (data files) to play games on them.
Even if you manually make a ROM from a game you own, Nintendo is notoriously anti-ROM. This means that downloading or exporting a ROM, even for a 30-year-old title that isn’t easily accessible elsewhere, is illegal.
Official emulation solutions do exist, though. On the Wii and Wii U, Nintendo’s Virtual Console allowed you to buy old titles that operated on those platforms via emulation. Hardware emulation is an example of backward-compatible video game systems, such as the Xbox One’s ability to run Xbox 360 games.
Another sort of emulation that has recently gained popularity is console replications. Among them are the NES Classic Edition and the C64 Mini. These are designed to look like the original system but incorporate modern features such as current display outputs, pre-installed games (which run on an emulator), and controllers.
Migration is the process of re-releasing older games on a newer system, whereas emulation allows you to play the same games on a new console.
Compilations, such as Sega Genesis Classics on PS4 and Xbox One, are examples of this. These packages combine several classic games into a single box, frequently with modern convenience features such as save states and control customization.
Full remakes of older games for modern systems are another example. For example, the original Crash Bandicoot trilogy for the PlayStation was rebuilt for the PS4 generation of consoles as the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. These games’ graphics, controls, and music have all been redesigned from the ground up.
While mostly accurate to the originals, they may correct certain dated or otherwise annoying parts. Some, like Final Fantasy VII Remake, even go on another path.
Other Techniques for Game Preservation
While the above two methods are the most prevalent, fans also find various ways to keep their favorite video games available. They might, for example, take abandoned software and continue to develop it, or they might unearth the source code for a canceled game, finish it, and expose it to the public.
Because video games are such a new medium, their copyright hasn’t run out in most cases, so projects like this are typically legally problematic.
Other methods of preservation are less complicated. Wikis and databases dedicated to vintage games from the early days of the gaming business strive to preserve as much information as possible regarding games that most people are unaware of.
What Is the Importance of Video Game Preservation?
You might be wondering why it matters if people can play a bunch of 1980s video games. Whether you enjoy playing these games or not, everyone interested in video games should desire to preserve them for future generations.
Even though video games have barely been available for around 50 years, many older titles are either impossible or prohibitively expensive for most people to play. This could be due to a variety of factors, including:
The game is extremely uncommon and has never been re-released, making a used copy quite expensive.
It’s tough to find the game’s system due to scarcity or a lack of stock.
The game was withdrawn from a digital retailer for copyright or other reasons.
The physical media on which the game was played is deteriorating, and the console on which the game is available is not compatible with modern televisions.
The reality of Video Game Preservation
Let’s look at some examples of the above that aren’t just theoretical:
Shantae, which was first released for the Game Boy Color, can be found for over $1,000 on eBay and other comparable sites. There was no official method to play the game without spending much money until it was released on Virtual Console for the Nintendo 3DS. Many other games do not have the same luck.
Due to its “virtual reality” gimmick, you can’t properly experience the games for Nintendo’s failed Virtual Boy without the machine. It would cost hundreds of dollars to purchase a Virtual Boy and any games.
Sony announced in 2021 that the PlayStation Store for the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita would be shut down. Over 100 titles exclusive to those retailers will effectively vanish once the store closes. Other digital-only titles, such as P.T., have been withdrawn from digital shops and are only playable if you already have them downloaded.
Some Game Boy Color cartridges’ batteries have already died, stopping you from saving your progress. And it’s not easy for regular people to replace these batteries.
Because modern T.V.s lack an R.F. connection, you’ll need an adaptor to play vintage consoles like the Magnavox Odyssey. The once-common composite A.V. ports (used by consoles such as the PlayStation 2 and GameCube) will gradually disappear from T.V.s, causing a similar issue.