Kojima released quite a somber tweet commenting on the state of current video game preservation compared to how movies get treated. And it does make you think about the future of our favorite pass time/hobby.
You really don’t have to look far for the problems with replaying gems from years past. Two weeks ago we discussed Ubisoft Shutting Down Servers For Their Older Titles And Possibly Blocking Access To Single-Player DLC. Situation that is still ongoing and confusing more, and more people.
And shortly before that, I discussed how impossible it feels to legally play Shin Megami Tensei games. And how much of a relief it is that Atlus is actually working on porting their games, starting with the Personas, to a variety of modern hardware.
Kojima’s Perspective On Video Game Preservation
“It was the dawn of the game industry when I entered the industry. Games were disposable toys. In this environment, I hoped to create games that would be supported for 50 years, just like classic movies,” stated Hideo Kojima in the first half of his tweet thread. “However, unlike movies, software, hardware, and tastes have a short life span. Even if the images and objects survive, they cannot be played. Still, it has survived as a MEME”.
There’s a clear divide on how video games and movies are preserved and made accessible to new audiences. Say you wanted to play Super Castlevania IV, original Mario Cart, or Donkey Kong Country for example. You need to either buy the Nintendo Classic Mini “console” for Castlevania and Donkey Kong Country.
Or you could subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online membership for the original Mario Cart and Donkey Kong Country, no Castlevania. Or you could buy Castlevania Anniversary Collection on Steam for a collection of just Castlevanias. But what if you want just the Super Castlevania IV for some “reasonable” price? Well, fuck you is the answer to that.
Now how does that stack up against movies? Let’s say I want to buy Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino, his first big film. A film that came out 1 year after Castlevania IV mind you in 1992. To get that, I would google “Reservoir Dogs” and click the shopping tab, and buy a physical DVD for 40 PLN, which is like $4.
And then I can stick that DVD into my PS4, a Blu-Ray player, or PC… if my PC had a disc drive in it. Not to mention that any streaming service or online movie library will have Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino.
Not to mention that the game is available in the country of Poland hassle free, with regional pricing appropriate for my weaker currency. Something that just doesn’t happen with a huge chunk of video games.
The Gaming Preservation Is Getting Better… But…
There’s something to be said about Nintendo and the mentioned Classic Mini “console” and their Switch Online Membership. They are technically really great at preserving their classic titles, like I mentioned, bunch of ways to play that Mario Kart, right?
But at the same time, they dangle it like a carrot in front of your face to buy their mini’s and services that suck. Because Nintendo Online absolutely blows, but now there is a reason to buy it if you are into classic games. And that’s a big reason why companies do not invest in things like backward compatibility, or the unified way to redistribute their older products. Because they can then carrot and stick us till they make some money, forget about those games for 8 years, and rinse and repeat on the new gen.
But it could be worse than that! I mean, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is STILL. INACCESSIBLE. ON. MODERN. HARDWARE.
As a gaming enthusiast, I just cannot feel anything but bummed out about the state of game preservation. I do believe games will eventually catch up in some way. At some point, someone will have enough of this.
But so far, things are going frustratingly slow, and many great games are at risk of being forever lost. So I’m with you Kojima, video game preservation right now is in quite a sad state.