Games Inbox: What did you think of the Red Dead Redemption II trailer?

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Regarding my last letter referring to the shutting down of emulation and ROM sites, I take issue with your response that older games aren’t ‘lost’. The fact is that most publishers have already lost the source code to many of their older games – Konami’s loss of the source code for Silent Hill 2 and 3, for instance. That’s the kind of callous disregard for gaming’s history I was speaking off.

It’s getting harder and harder to find original games and hardware for a reasonable price, and there are only so many physical copies to go around. Also, many games are never going to get re-releases on any kind of modern distribution since apparently those who hold the IPs would rather abuse their power because there’s no profit in re-releasing modern games. And that’s if anybody knows who even owns the IPs. That’s exactly where all this copyright nonsense got us.

There are many games where the original creators want to see them re-released, but the IP holders refuse to allow it. For instance, we’ll never see a re-release of Plok. While the Pickfords clearly have the rights to the character (hence the comic revival), the game seems to be stuck in Activision or Warner Bros.’ copyright vaults.

The sad fact is that, as legally dodgy as it is, emulation is the ONLY way for many otherwise paying customers to play so many forgotten gems these days, but even that option is now limited because probably the only website with ROMs that weren’t loaded with viruses and malware is out of business.

I deeply appreciate the efforts of groups like the Video Game Museum in Nottingham, or the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, but the law itself needs to fundamentally change.

If it was up to me, then once it was clear an IP holder was not interested in re-releasing any old games either physically or digitally, then those games should be declared abandonware and made publicly available. Gaming, despite what some might say, is a creative, artistic medium and deserves to be studied as such. I’m fed up with corporations making that far more difficult than it needs to be.
Andrew Middlemas

GC: Downloading a ROM doesn’t make it any less lost than just owning an original copy. You don’t have a right to own games just because you want to, but publishers do have a legal right to maintain ownership of their products. And besides, how would you know when a game was abandoned? We repeatedly see franchises return after decades in the wilderness, in terms of both sequels and remasters.

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