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VGC: The Electronic Software Association has shot down the idea of supporting libraries in the preservation of defunct online games

As reported by Game Developer, last week, ESA lawyer Steve Englund was asked about a theoretical scenario in which public libraries were permitted to preserve online video games after official support had concluded.

In response, Englund said there was currently “[no] combination of limitations [ESA members] would support to provide remote access.”

The ESA’s members include virtually every major game publisher, including Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, EA and Take-Two.
Currently, video game developers and publishers have no legal obligation to maintain access to online services beyond their official support.

It’s also not currently legal for fans to resurrect online games that have been abandoned either, although this hasn’t stopped several fan efforts for older titles.

This has led dozens of games to become completely unplayable, a number that only grows due to the prevalence of titles requiring an online connection, and in some cases, servers.

Englund suggested that Ivy League schools (a collection of eight universities in the US) could assist in the preservation efforts or perhaps develop a type of research-focused home for these titles.

However, following this, he said that a physical location housing these games and allowing easy access isn’t a solution in his opinion either. He called this kind of access to the titles “insufficient progress.”

Mike Ayes, an Advanced Access Content System (the post-DVD era piracy protection standard) attorney took Englund’s side, looking for “more substance,” in any adjustment of the rules.

Ayes said he would have concerns about verification when it comes to establishing physical locations that would preserve online titles, saying that it’s “not clear” if the idea would be effective.”
In response to this, Video Game History Foundation director Phil Salvador said that public libraries are not best suited to the preservation efforts due to a lack of manpower, and the scale of the issue.

Last year, the Video Game History Foundation, in partnership with the Software Preservation Network, claimed that 87% of classic video games released in the United States were “critically endangered.”

Technology lawyer Kendra Albert condemned the ESA’s attitude, especially in regard to concerns that the games could be accessed for non-academic purposes, against the wishes of rights-holders.

Albert said it “doesn’t feel fair, to discount the preservation efforts of academic institutions when it comes to preservation purely because players would be able to access the games for non-research purposes.
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'nuff said.
The issue would be getting everyone to agree to do the same thing (and spend money on it). Not really a signal that none of those companies are opposed on principal to the idea of game preservation. Nintendo certainly preserves their stuff internally and has everything dialed in. But publicly preserving everything, eh 🤷‍♂️. NCL does what they do.
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