Video game preservation continues to be a hot topic as we move forward with each new console release. It’s especially relevant now with the releases of the PS5 and Xbox Series S consoles that are digital-only. Backwards compatibility is a thing of the past, so you’d think it would be easy for these game companies to just add their already massive library of titles from previous console generations to their new digital storefronts. Sure, I get that there are those of us who would rather have a physical copy, but with older games going for ridiculous prices on eBay, it’s hard to relive your nostalgia without it costing a fortune.
If you thought you might be alone on this, fear not, because video game developers feel the exact same way. In an interview with VGC, PlatinumGames’ developer Hideki Kamiya (Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry), mentioned that he is an avid retro gamer and collector. He says that he understands the appeal of nabbing a particular physical title, but states that people who simply want to play games are often missing out:
“As a collector myself, I understand the lure of wanting to have that game in the sealed package. People want the value of that package and not necessarily of the game itself. But as a fan, it’s a problem if somebody wants to play a game but they can’t get it because it’s being traded in these ridiculous marketplaces.”
This is completely understandable. There are those that would love to have something sitting on their shelf, never to be touched again. This is the way of the dad gamer after all. However, there are others that want to play these games again but don’t have the means to do so. We’ve even discussed before that classic video games have been auctioning for millions of dollars and baffling the game creators themselves. I can understand the value of a collectible, but we need to be able to play these games digitally. This is where game companies could help out:
“And the responsibility for keeping those games available belongs to the company that owns the IP. If people want to play a classic game and they can’t, because it’s not available on new platforms and can’t be found in its original form either, that’s like a threat… it’s holding game culture back. The people who own the rights to these games should be actively making moves to preserve game culture and making games available to everyone who wants to play them.”
I love Nintendo, but they’ve made it increasingly more difficult over the years to gain access to their games. The only way to play a lot of classic NES and SNES games was on the Wii and Wii U, but Nintendo closed down the Wii shop back in 2019, and now all we have is the Wii U Virtual Console. It has become so bad in fact, that they had a timed-release for Super Mario All-Stars on Nintendo Switch. This game included Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and Super Mario Galaxy. Once it was no longer on sale (or “The Day Mario Dies“), you weren’t able to buy it. Nintendo isn’t all bad though. We do have some NES and SNES games currently on Nintendo Switch Online, with N64 and Sega Genesis titles joining the online service later this month. It’s a step in the right direction, but there’s really so much more they could be doing.
On the other hand, Sony made it clear that with the PS5 release, they were leaving the PS4 behind. Surprisingly, they did take a step back and have made some of their PS5 exclusives available on PS4 as well. In terms of their PS1, PS2, & PS3 games, they’re nowhere to be seen. It’s brutal because all your PS1 games were compatible with PS2. The PS3 launched and then Sony charged $10 for a selection of PS1 games. They would even start releasing “collections” of their PS2 games like Ratchet & Clank and Jak & Daxter. I understand that from a business perspective it makes sense, but whatever happened to the good ol’ days of backward compatibility?
The only company really doing anything about this is Xbox. They have said that they are fully committed to preserving the classics. Xbox Game Pass already has a ton of games, new and old, with more on the way. It’s this commitment that will hopefully drive Sony and Nintendo to start releasing more of their retro games. I would absolutely pay for a Playstation subscription that was like Nintendo Switch Online. Give me access to PS1 games on my PS5 and I would be one happy camper.