Game Preservation and the Failure of Publishers to Honor Their Legacy

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Let’s set the stage: 

You own a Nintendo Switch and, along with it, a copy of “Pokémon Violet.” Having not ever played a Pokémon game before, you find enjoyment in it. After completing it, you go online and see that many people are insistent that the older Pokémon games are better. 

Curious, you become interested in seeing just what the big deal is about these older games. You decide that you want to try “Pokémon Heartgold” for the Nintendo DS, so you look online to begin the search for it. You find a copy of the game being sold, but the price looks ridiculous. Assuming it’s a scam, you go to another website. 

Again, you see that the game is being sold at a price far beyond any reason. Annoyed, you continue to go through websites, but the price remains the same, Only $120.00 for this 15-year-old game. That’s on top of the $50.00 you have to spend for a DS system to play the game (assuming you don’t already own one). 

The best part? There’s no guarantee the game will actually run, considering it’s pretty old.

This is just one example of game companies failing to preserve their old games. Since games are made to run on specific consoles, a newer console can’t play games that weren’t made for it unless the console supports backward compatibility. Even still, a PlayStation 5 that supports backward compatibility can’t play any games made on PlayStation consoles from before the PlayStation 4. That means that if you want to play a game that’s only available on the PlayStation 2, you’d better be willing to shell out the money for it. 

Past consoles used to have backwards compatibility with the system prior (the Wii could play Gamecube games, DS could play Gameboy Advance, etc.), but it seems like companies are starting to move away from this. That all being said, there is actually one way you could experience these games in the modern world.

You can just pirate the games.

Okay, so I’m not actually encouraging you to break the law here. Pirating these games is 100% illegal, and I’m not going to tell you that you should do this. That being said, many people have resorted to piracy because there is no other possible way to play these games without destroying your bank account. All someone would theoretically have to do is download an emulator on a computer (this basically puts the code for the console on your computer’s memory), and download the game files to play on the emulator. It’s free, and since the games are usually old, many low-end computers can run them.

I have a problem with game emulation, though. It’s not the legal part that annoys me; it’s the fact that people have to resort to breaking the law in order to play certain games. Companies create games for their consumers. That is how the video game industry (or any business) thrives. Just because time has passed and new technology exists doesn’t mean that the games created in the past should be left behind. The success of past games is what built the current video game industry. Yes, the older games won’t look as nice as games made today, but that’s expected. Rarely will somebody ignore a game from 20 years ago because “the graphics don’t look good.” 

I think companies fear that older video games won’t sell well because we’ve moved on and want the next big game. Considering that companies have to take time to polish their ports and get new contracts with other companies, I can see why they’re scared. It’s a big gamble whether it’d be worth it. However, many companies also probably don’t want people pirating their games. 

Nintendo is a big stickler with this. They do not like it when people don’t play their games the way that they intended them to be played. They have tried to stop pirating by releasing some of their most popular games on their current system, The Nintendo Switch. Sadly though, there are still some games that are still unplayable unless emulated, mainly Gamecube games. There are many amazing Gamecube games that I wish people would be able to legitimately play, but there just isn’t any reasonable way to do so. 

My exigency for writing this actually stems from the Nintendo 3DS. The online 3DS store is closing in March of 2023, and many great games are going to be lost with it. While physical versions of 3DS games are already at a ridiculous price, their digital counterparts can be bought for their normal prices. The 3DS has some amazing titles, like “Kid Icarus: Uprising” and “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds.” Once this shop closes, however, these games will be all but lost. As far as anyone knows, nothing is being done to preserve this system’s exclusive games. After realizing this, I started to consider that there are so many amazing games out there that I haven’t been able to play because companies have failed to make them reasonably accessible in the modern world.

While I can’t say I condone game piracy, I won’t say that I’ll necessarily judge you if you go down that route. Game companies create games, and they have an obligation to carry on their legacies should they prove popular. In fact, there are some popular franchises out there that are spread over multiple consoles. The “God of War” series is a good example of this. The third numbered entry in the series is available on current PlayStation consoles, but the first two aren’t. Considering that the games are direct sequels to one another, a player can’t currently experience the full story. It’s hard being forced to start midway through a story because parts are inaccessible. 

On the other hand, “Persona 4 Golden” and “Persona 3 Portable” were recently ported to modern consoles. This was due to an outcry of fans who wanted to experience these amazingly crafted games but just didn’t have the means to. If we, as the fans, are loud enough, companies will hear us. Even if it seems like some games will never be playable again, continuing to show appreciation could go a long way.