87% of Games Released Before 2010 Have Been Found Near Impossible To Access

/ 10 months ago

Have you ever thought about a classic game and felt that urge to play it once again just to find that you’ve no way of playing it unless you fork out for the classic console it was used on? I know I have and a study has been conducted to find out how many of these classic titles have been lost to time.

Classic Games ‘Endangered’

as shared by The Verge A study that was conducted by the Video Game History Foundation and the Software Preservation Network has found that 87% of classic video games released before 2010 are “critically endangered”. The full study has been conveniently condensed and explained on the gamehistory.org website. The study was conducted with a big sample of games released before 2010 with a random list of 4000 games and also separated the games into three categories:

  • Abandoned ecosystems, with low commercial interest and few games available. The study used the Commodore 64.
  • Neglected ecosystems, where there’s a lot of commercial interest but still not many games in print. The study used the Gameboy family from the original Game Boy through to the Game Boy Advance.
  • Active ecosystems, where games for these platforms are being re-released all the time, The PS2 was chosen for this category.

The Results

With a sample size of 4000, the study kept the research simple with a yes or no answer to “can you get it or not?” which turned out to be difficult to decide upon. The researchers had to take into account remasters, remakes and re-releases as the original may not be available but these versions may still be available. To combat this problem they decided to base the yes or no on whether the remake version was substantially different from the original release and if yes then they were treated as different games. With this established the results found were quite disappointing for classic game fans. Currently, only 13%, with a 2.5% margin of error, of classic games released in the United States are still in print with none of the study groups rising above 20% availability with the PS2 only reaching 12%. This score was compared to the availability of pre-World War II audio recordings which are only slightly under at 10% or less, bringing the question as to how so many games of the last several decades have been lost.

Game Boy Lost In The eShop

One part of the study focused on GameBoy titles which as of April 2023 only 5.87% of Game Boy games were still in print which is bad but it only gets worse. Back in March Nintendo shut down the eShop for its 3DS and Wii U which featured an additional 6.5% of games which are now no longer available. Below is a pie chart that was provided to visualise the full results.

Unfortunate For Gaming

This is quite unfortunate as there are many great classic games that people enjoyed but to try them again you have to jump through so many complicated hoops. Unfortunately, this isn’t something that the foundation believes will get better over time and actually is looking to get worse, especially with other digital storefronts shutting down following the Nintendo eShop including the Xbox 360 and PS3 stores. It was also pointed out that change to copyright law can help this problem in providing options for preservation in libraries and archives though this may take some time to come into fruition.

Are there any games that you’d like to pick up again but is lost to time? Let us know in the comments.

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