Gamasutra: when digital dies, where does that leave game preservation?

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Deleted_171835

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This is an old article but I feel it could provide for some interesting discussion.
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/170243/When_digital_dies_where_does_that_leave_game_preservation.php

So what's your stance on this? Do you feel a digital-only market is detrimental to game preservation? Should it matter whether we preserve videogames at all? Do you think that piracy does help with preservation of games and if so, what about platforms that haven't been hacked like the DSi (with DSiWare) or XBLA?
 

Rydian

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The article mixes too much "old technology" into it's "online technology" fears, methinks... but both of them have the same solution. The answer is always "an alternative".

Just like many SNES systems are dying and the thing hasn't been produced in ages, to play the games you use alternatives nowadays. Emulation, flash carts, copycat systems, things like that will still allow you to play the game. "But I don't get the original retro feel of the exact controller and" - Too bad. My dog died, and I'll never be able to get that same exact dog again. There's some things you can't avoid, shit breaks over time (inset nokia joke here).

Anyways, it's not like this has gone entirely ignored. Some of the major companies themselves offer paid alternatives, in the form of virtual console (for Nintendo) and PSX classics on the PSN (for Sony). As for the PC, there's companies out there dedicated to selling digital copies of older games (sometimes bundled with emulators if needed for new systems).
 
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Hells Malice

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What XBL is the dude using?
My xbox is pretty much exclusively kept offline. Sure I can't redownload or update my games...but I can play them just fine. But I get what he means should, say, 20 years from now your hard drive fries...and there's no service to replace those games. That would suck quite a bit.
But 20 years from now I honestly doubt a person would even care.
I love NES, SNES, N64, etc games. I have the carts, hell my consoles even work. But I don't use the original consoles...I just emulate the damn things. Piracy? Technically. But if all you do is download games you paid for originally...I wouldn't have too many moral qualms with doing so.

Didn't read the second quote. Way too damn long.

I like having physical copies of games for the feeling of "I supported this game" in a physical, trophy-like form. I prefer digital, even if some day in the distant future I can no longer obtain the game I bought in a bygone era...I honestly still prefer the convenience.
In 20 years we'll see if I still hold that opinion.
 

triassic911

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The article mixes too much "old technology" into it's "online technology" fears, methinks... but both of them have the same solution. The answer is always "an alternative".

Just like many SNES systems are dying and the thing hasn't been produced in ages, to play the games you use alternatives nowadays. Emulation, flash carts, copycat systems, things like that will still allow you to play the game. "But I don't get the original retro feel of the exact controller and" - Too bad. My dog died, and I'll never be able to get that same exact dog again. There's some things you can't avoid, shit breaks over time (inset nokia joke here).

Anyways, it's not like this has gone entirely ignored. Some of the major companies themselves offer paid alternatives, in the form of virtual console (for Nintendo) and PSX classics on the PSN (for Sony). As for the PC, there's companies out there dedicated to selling digital copies of older games (sometimes bundled with emulators if needed for new systems).
Just wanted to add to your last sentence. Rockstar and Bethesda are offering GTA 1/2 and The first two Elder Scrolls (respectively) for free on PC. Great way for preserving the first games that changed their respective series' future.
 

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I'm a conservationist, and I care about preserving 'stuff' in general. I agree with the author's choice of words, games are a part of our 'digital heritage', a part of human history, and a part of many people's lives.

Personally, I keep my old photos, old emails, and I'd like to be able to keep my old games, too. A reliable way to preserve those things is to make multiple copies of the same thing. They can all be digital copies, as long as I can make backups any time I want, it's fine.

Online distributors need to give control back to the users to make backups, without assuming the servers themselves will be around forever. This is especially true if the game's distributed through a single source.
 
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Rydian

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Steam already grants users the ability to run all the games offline, without an internet connection once they're downloaded.
Also it lets you use a backup feature to move installations to other machines without having to download them again.

That's one of the reasons I jumped into steam without many fears.
 
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Fear Zoa

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I brought this up on the Sony ad's thread but I personally believe that with the direction games are going, cloud based systems, ads in games, mandatory online, etc. It wont be possible to preserve the games of tomorrow in the distant future. In the future an original Nintendo will still work just fine provided it's been taken care of. But games of tomorrow will likely be useless without the servers they rely on, and those servers won't be around forever. Also digital distribution, if we switched completely to digital distribution and abandoned physical media then the games longevity will rely on the servers you can download it from, or the hard drive you've downloaded it to. Neither of those will last as long as a cartridge or a cd because companies fail, and hard drives are prone to inevitably failing. As far as ad's go their impact on preservation games depends on what happens what the game can't reach the server hosting the ad's.

Games are absolutely worth preserving and plenty of people collect old games and game systems, The angry video game nerd and pat the nes punk come to mind.

(sorry if this is formatted terribly)
 

Guild McCommunist

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Steam already grants users the ability to run all the games offline, without an internet connection once they're downloaded.
Also it lets you use a backup feature to move installations to other machines without having to download them again.

That's one of the reasons I jumped into steam without many fears.

This as a whole basically disproves the whole "games will be lost with digital distribution" theory. In fact digital distribution will probably keep games around longer than physical distribution. Physical games can break or be lost. Digital games can be kept around forever by bouncing it around the internet.

DRM as a whole is on its way out, a lot of companies are stepping forward and saying it is largely worse than typical anti-piracy measures. From the bad PR to the cost of setting up an internet-always connection for games, it's more detrimental than it is helpful.

Also digital distribution has preserved older games by just selling them again. Nowadays you can just download a large selection of NES titles, for example, on your Wii. It even gives games a second chance, like Sin and Punishment, which probably would have never seen a sequel (let alone a localized one) without the Virtual Console version.

Plus digital distribution is looking to be the future anyway, I can definitely see physical games dying in the next 10-20 years. Music is already largely digital, movies are starting to go digital with Netflix and a large amount of retail movies coming bundled with a digital copy, and games are halfway there with the PC market almost entirely digital and consoles picking it up too (you can buy retail games on the Xbox 360, PS3, and Vita right now).
 

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Steam already grants users the ability to run all the games offline, without an internet connection once they're downloaded.
Also it lets you use a backup feature to move installations to other machines without having to download them again.

That's one of the reasons I jumped into steam without many fears.

This as a whole basically disproves the whole "games will be lost with digital distribution" theory. In fact digital distribution will probably keep games around longer than physical distribution. Physical games can break or be lost. Digital games can be kept around forever by bouncing it around the internet.
While your last sentence there is true, that doesn't disprove it. Physical media can get lost or broken, but worse things can happen to digital content such as viruses, corruption (due to power failure, faulty wiring, etc...) or things like servers being offline, and these are just some examples. Both have pros and cons, but you cannot have the mentality that games cannot be lost by making it digital. That is wishful thinking, but it's also ignorance.
 

Lube_Skyballer

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Er, what?

Last I checked if a disc gets broken, you're SOL.

Whereas if my harddrive gets wiped, I just download my games again.

You'll have to look at the bigger picture.
In say 20-50 years the Xbox 360 servers go offline. You can't get your Castle Crashers or Fez anymore.
I'm talking no piracy. After 50 years you will have to rely on your HDD of your (then retro) Xbox 360. If it eventually breaks down, you're screwed

Just for comparison; Some Atari 2600 cartridges are roughly 35 years old and still function without a problem.
Discs (and optical drives) are more prone to wear than cartridge-based systems. I've been collecting retro systems for the last 5 years so I know how consoles age.
When the (original) Xbox live servers went down, a part of the console died with it. In case of, let's say, the Xbox 360 it will mean that an enormous part of the console will die if the servers will ever be shut down.
 

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I covered that with my first post. :P Alternative methods (piracy, emulation, ports) are the option in all of the cases. Shit breaks eventually.

EDIT: My point is that's why companies that cater to preservation are often regarded highly.

Yes there's companies that do none of this and just leave you hanging.
So there's shit companies that want nothing to do with you once they have your money, is this news?
 

Guild McCommunist

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While your last sentence there is true, that doesn't disprove it. Physical media can get lost or broken, but worse things can happen to digital content such as viruses, corruption (due to power failure, faulty wiring, etc...) or things like servers being offline, and these are just some examples. Both have pros and cons, but you cannot have the mentality that games cannot be lost by making it digital. That is wishful thinking, but it's also ignorance.

But for an entire network to lose something is near impossible. Yeah, your copy of Half Life 2 might get corrupted or something along those lines, but you can always redownload it from Steam and (if by some odd chance) it's no longer on Steam, get it elsewhere. Games that are over 15 years old are still being sold through digital services. The original Half Life is still on Steam and the original Super Mario Bros. is still on the Virtual Console. There's little reason to stop selling these games since it costs practically nothing to keep them for sale and it's just more profit from games that have probably passed their profit margin. Even then, games that have come up quite short on their profits, like Psychonauts, have gotten second chances through digital distribution.

The only way digital distribution will stop preserving games is pretty much if the internet as a whole dies.
 
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Deleted_171835

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Even with piracy and groups like No-Intro, there are still some games that aren't dumped. DS carts aren't going to last forever and when they break down, that's a piece of our history, gone forever. That's why I think we should have a group dedicated solely to preserving roms.

Steam already grants users the ability to run all the games offline, without an internet connection once they're downloaded.
Also it lets you use a backup feature to move installations to other machines without having to download them again.

That's one of the reasons I jumped into steam without many fears.

This as a whole basically disproves the whole "games will be lost with digital distribution" theory. In fact digital distribution will probably keep games around longer than physical distribution. Physical games can break or be lost. Digital games can be kept around forever by bouncing it around the internet.
Not necessarily. Not every platform is like Steam and eventually you will lose access to the service (WiiWare, XBLA). There are some platforms like DSiWare that aren't hacked. How are we going to perserve those games once those platforms shut down? The second your DSi/3DS dies, you lose access to the games and since the service is down, you can't re-download them.
 

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Steam's backup feature is convenient, but the backup copies will only work for as long as the servers are up, and the user can log into the right account to re-authorize them. Maybe Steam's servers will last longer than Microsoft's and Nintendo's, but the issue still remains: the users can't make (functional) backups of their games independent of the servers.
 

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