As someone who grew up when video games first got popular, I love that I can play old games. But one thing that worries me is that games that exist mainly online wont be preserved for the sake of video game history. Are there any plans in the retro gaming community or among game developers to figure out a way to preserve online games and give future gamers a chance to enjoy them on some level? Or when these games’ servers get shut off are they just gone forever?
It’s a case by case basis. Depends on how popular the game, how cut throat the company is, if there are community volunteers. etc. You can look up City of Heroes for a game the is being kept alive after it was closed down.
There are even some non-multiplayer, no online component games that were built with server connection requires DRM(digital rights management) that have their servers shut off when they lose popularity and can’t even be played at all. Fortunately that seems to be an quirk of the past after people realized what bullshit it is, but Dark Spore is an example.
Hellgate: London went offline in the summer of 2008. A single-player version arrived about a decade later.
Cool. Yeah, it seems like there would still be money to squeeze out by reissuing an old online game as a single player.
also, look up EverQuest’s project 1999
its one the reasons why world of warcraft brought out classic because they knew if they didnt the fans would (and they were trying to ) … but blizzard did it right as you dont have to have a out of print version to use it unlike project 1999 (maybe the new studio will address this )
There are private/free services like city of heroes and ultima online and even one started for starwars galaxies(tho last time i looked that was still in infancy) i think more companies will pay attention and either back the fan projects or start offering it on their own once there’s a demand for it
If an online-only game is popular enough, it will be reverse-engineered and a fan-made copy will be available for play after the original is toast. But that won’t be most games. As it stands now, the vast majority of online games are or will become unplayable forever at some point in time. They will be completely lost works of art like the missing passages in the Satyricon - we’ll know they existed in some form and might know something about them, but we’ll never be able to re-experience them.
Even now, it’s hard to play a lot of old single-player games legally. PC games can for the most part be re-licensed for modern platforms and reissued on GOG or whatever, but for console games it’s a lot harder. As long as one copy of the hardware and software survives it might be physically possible for playable copies to be made, but it’s less likely that these will survive until they become public domain compared to other media.