The Problem of Preservation in the Games Industry (Among Others)

On the other hand, if I wanted to buy the original Persona, I couldn’t do so through an official channel and I would have to own a working PS1There are of course plenty of classics being released on the new consoles (but not nearly enough), and things are a lot better on PC, but if the current trend continues I can only see it hurting the industry. Games haven’t really been around that long and the attitudes of those currently in positions of power are worrying, to say the least.

The main reason that games must be preserved is for educational purposes. The game designers of tomorrow must have access to older games in order to gain an insight into the foundational principles of design. There is much to be learned from the games of days gone by that is readily applicable to the games of today. A student of game design must have access to games of all genres styles and eras, that’s given.

But with console exclusivity and no backwards compatibility this process is needlessly difficult for an aspiring designer, and things are only going to get worse as the years go by. What we need as an industry, at the very least, is some kind of archive, a place where people can play any game they feel they need access to, you could even charge a fee for this service if you really felt like it.

As I eluded to earlier though the problem at present is not specifically the fact that it is impossible to play a given (older) game. The problem is the attitude of what appears to be many executives within the game industry itself. Some of them don’t even seem to like making games, as demonstrated by Konami’s continual reduction of once respected franchises to nothing more than pachinko machines. Anyone that would do that to Silent Hills or Metal Gear clearly does not have the respect for games that someone so involved in the industry should have.

 

Stuff like this, unfortunately, is not that uncommon. Another fresh example is the recent debacle concerning Gearbox and G2A. You can find the details elsewhere, but bottom line, a company like Gearbox should have been aware of G2A’s reputation. Someone at Gearbox is either ignorant or morally bankrupt, neither of which is a particularly good look.

On top of this I’m sure anyone with an interest in games could reel off several examples of A-grade cock-ups from Ubisoft, EA and the usual suspects. I still haven’t quite gotten over EA’s marketing campaign for Dante’s Inferno. What all of this points to is an industry run by individuals who are not gamers and  do not care about gaming as a medium. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that is a serious problem.

When you actually stop and think about the situation, its completely absurd. The biggest players in the game industry, the AAA sector, is apparently run by people with no passion for gaming. No passion for gaming. That’s not fair, it’s not right, and it’s certainly not sustainable. I do not trust large gaming companies to preserve the history of gaming and that is a disgrace.

My worry is that with the desperate push for higher sales, pre-orders and mircotransactions, the industry will simply forget or stop caring about the preservation of older games, something I hope never happens.  Console exclusivity and the abandonment of backwards compatibility can only hurt us in the long term and don’t want to look back in ten years time and lament the decisions this industry made.

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