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Games preservation is an ongoing effort by countless people to try and honor the legacy of an industry that now stretches worldwide – but it’s an uphill battle. The very first study on the current availability of classic games – conducted by the Video Game History Foundation in partnership with the Software Preservation Network – has found that 87% of video games released in the U.S. prior to 2010 are “critically endangered.”



“Imagine if the only way to watch Titanic was to find a used VHS tape, and maintain your own vintage equipment so that you could still watch it,” says the VGHF. “And what if no library, not even the Library of Congress, could do any better — they could keep and digitize that VHS of Titanic, but you’d have to go all the way there to watch it. It sounds crazy, but that’s the reality we live in with video games, a $180 billion industry, while the games and their history disappear.”



No five-year period before 2010 had even 20% of its games available on the current market, with things especially dire for titles released before the NES era. The study aims to expand the ability of libraries and organizations to preserve video games, which are currently far more limited than the current ability to preserve other forms of media. The ESA (the main lobby group of the game industy) argues that the industry does plenty to preserve its own history commercially, but the study seeks to counter this argument (you can read more on the methodology for how they achieved the number).

Hopefully this is a push towards making the legacy of the past more readily available to consumers, and preventing tragedies like the severe loss of countless silent films from the early 20th century. It’s on U.S. lawmakers to change copyright code in consideration of the results.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.