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Video Game Preservation Crisis: 87% of Classics at Risk of Extinction

Video Game Preservation Crisis: 87% of Classics at Risk of Extinction

Video Game Preservation Crisis: 87% Of Classics At Risk Of Extinction

As classic video games reach their 40th and 50th anniversaries, the threat of their disappearance looms large. A new report from the International Digital Preservation Network (IDPN) pinpoints the crisis, concluding that 87% of digital video games created since the early 1980s are at risk of extinction. It’s a tragedy that has been years in the making, and one that has serious consequences for the future of video game history.

The report outlines two main causes for the preservation crisis. Firstly, many classic video games have not been re-released, leaving them only available to be played on older or out of production hardware. Secondly, in many cases, the original source code for these games has not been kept in an accessible form, or the rights to the intellectual property have been lost, meaning that in-game elements are not always able to be rebuilt without spending considerable time and money.

What’s most concerning is the lack of open access to vintage video games, with the IDPN finding that only 13% of these titles is are available and playable. Without open access, researchers are not able to acquire the resources to properly study the industry and how it has evolved over time. This poses a problem for present and future generations who are interested in learning about video game history.

However, the situation is not without hope. Over the years, many organisations have established initiatives to protect the longevity of classic video games. These include work by museums and galleries to piece together collections of original software and hardware, the actions of archivists and curators to gather copies of old video games, and the efforts of organisations such as The National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas.

Though immense progress has been made, there is still far more work to be done. It is essential that we do not forget the trailblazers that pioneered modern gaming, and that we protect the history of the industry for future generations. With that in mind, all who can help in aiding the cause of video game preservation should do so – it is a cause that spans centuries, and the fruits of our labour will be enjoyed for many years to come.


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