Michael Blaker’s Video Game Tuesday: Digital Preservation

Michael Blaker
Game Industry News is running the best blog posts from people writing about the game industry. Articles here may originally appear on Michael's blog, Windborne's Story Eatery.

Hey all, I’m back with a look at the future of gaming. It’s all about digital preservation.

Digital Preservation?: So many games we buy these days are only available through digital storefronts and while that’s fine for as long as that store is operating, it’s not okay when said storefront closes. When that happens, the ability to keep playing those digital storefront games goes away. Because of that unique aspect of ownership for some video games, many titles are becoming unplayable. This became really apparent for a lot of players last year when the Wii U and 3DS stores were closed. For the first time for some gamers, they learned that they don’t actually “own” some of the titles that they purchased digitally.

cover_artLike which ones?: There are quite a few, especially in the last year, but some of the key ones include Pokemon Snap, Pushmo World, and Dr. Luigi among others. Pokemon Snap was probably the highest profile one to suffer this fate. Pokemon Snap was very popular, and the GiN Lounge hosts devoted an entire show to talking about how much fun it was at the time.

What can we do?: Well, personally we can’t do much except try to pressure publishers and operators of digital storefronts to make or allow some person or company to operate the servers where you can buy said titles. But that’d probably take laws being made to make them do so, and that’s not an easy thing. Laws need to be fair, and that takes time and effort.

The only other thing we can do is just be aware of this issue when buying digital storefront titles. If a game is dependent on an online digital store or server operating, maybe consider not getting it, or try to buy it in a physical format where it would keep operating even if the digital storefront closes. Not every title has that option, but some still do.

This may just be an issue that we need to be aware of in the coming years because as this issue becomes increasingly common, we are likely going to be hearing a lot more about digital preservation.

That’s it for this week’s Video Game Tuesday!

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