Classic video games are an endangered species

Together with

The Future. A study by the Video Game History Foundation and Software Preservation Network found classic video games are going the way of the dinosaurs (or the Jurassic Park Super Nintendo game). If a concerted effort isn’t made to preserve classic games, they may be relegated to the bargain bin of history.

Atari archaeology
Roughly 87% of games released in the US before 2010 are “critically endangered.”

  • Most vulnerable to extinction are those for the Game Boy and Commodore 64.
  • Why? Games don’t stay on store shelves indefinitely — and they get dropped from distribution (only games like Pokémon get re-released).

Shockingly, the study found silent-era films are more available than the endangered games, showing how woefully unprepared the industry has been in maintaining its relics.

Additionally, copyright laws for video games are unique in that they don’t let cultural institutions preserve and share them (unlike movies and books). The rules are going under review next year, so expect gamers to line up to make a public comment.


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