The CEO of Antstream Arcade calls for greater industry co-operation on game preservation and for every game to be available on every device.
Gaming has been part of my life since I was a kid. First as a player and then as someone who runs a games business, while still playing at the same time – but now with my kids. Put simply, I love games, always have and always will. And I am not alone. According to Statista, by 2023, there are predicted to be 3 billion gamers globally. Originally a niche pursuit that has transformed into a mainstream hobby and, for some even, a profession. So recent chatter about preserving both video gaming and its history strikes a massive chord.
It’s not that easy though. For preservation to be successful, the industry needs to come together and invest. It’s not good enough just to talk about it, games companies need to put their money where their mouths are – they need to do. Remembering that the gaming community is the real unsung heroes is integral. Without them, so much would have been lost. This is something we should never lose sight of, as we continue to innovate and bring new games and new hardware and software to market. So supporting those fans needs to form a central part of our thinking, always.
Accessibility is key. To make a game in today’s world, that some gamers cannot access because they don’t have the right platform, will no longer cut it. Ultimately gamers should be able to find any game ever created and play it instantly wherever they are, on any device. This doesn’t mean I am saying don’t go buy an Xbox or a PlayStation or forget about your Commodore 64 – these all form part of the journey and the history of video gaming.
What I am saying is that there are ways that games can be accessed without the pain of having to own the original hardware. And this is cloud gaming: a market on track to exceed the $5 billion mark in 2023 as technology and infrastructure continue to improve and whose serviceable obtainable market will reach just short of 200 million users this year* (Source: Newzoo, Cloud Gaming Report 2021).
Easy for the gamer, not so easy for the companies that make the games. Unlike the music industry, video games are much harder to transpose to newer formats. To make the Spotify of video games, it isn’t just the game media that needs to be converted, we need to emulate the original hardware too. Tracking down the rights is also a far from straightforward process; finding out who owns the game, the artwork, the music and recognising that, in all likelihood, the rights have changed hands multiple times over the last four decades.
But these shouldn’t be a barrier to not providing a service or a platform where gamers can’t have it all. Services like Antstream, Xbox, and PlayStation Now are making the right moves but they are just scratching the surface with what is possible. For us to truly preserve gaming, we need to come together as an industry.
IP holders need to get better at maintaining their databases of what they own in addition to embracing new services that can help keep their games alive. Cloud services must support as many games as possible and platform holders need to abandon the walled garden approach so that gamers can play with their friends regardless of the device they have chosen to invest in.
In parallel, we should be promoting where gaming started in a more obvious way. And there are companies already making the right moves. The Embracer Group is creating a huge physical software and hardware gaming archive; MobyGames has a vast community driven database and authority on video games, holding a vast amount of metadata about almost every game; in the UK we have the National Video Game Museum and retro gaming events are continuing to grow.
If we want games to be remembered, we must make them accessible to everyone!
By Steve Cottam, CEO of Antstream Arcade
GameCentral was contacted independently for this article and it is not the result of any advertising or financial commitment.
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