Is there anything fans could realistically do to get dormant game series rereleased or remade? Especially ones from small companies that have long been subsumed by larger ones. Is there any way for us to increase legitimate accessibility to the history of games?

It feels to me like you’re asking two different questions here:

  1. Is there a way for fans to signal to game publishers that they really want more games in a particular franchise?
  2. Is there a way to force an IP owner to grant public access to historic games?

These two questions are asking for very, very different things! It’s super important to have clarity for what it is you want! I’m going to assume that you asked #1 and not #2. For an answer to #2, you can check [this post]. Otherwise, read on.

So you're telling me there's a chance?ALT

I have good news and bad news for you. First the good news: yes, there are absolutely things that fans can do to signal their interest in the remastering or revival of dormant franchises. Most publishers keep eyes on these signals, so if there is significant community interest shown in reviving these games, the publishers will take notice. Now the bad news: these signals only work if there’s enough interest shown, and that usually means a significant amount of money changing hands. Even if these signals are received, it won’t guarantee that something will happen and it certainly won’t guarantee any kind of time table.

Show me the money!ALT

The kind of signals that game publishers are interested in seeing are typically financial. If, for example, old copies of games from the franchise sell very quickly on the secondary market for high prices, that is a signal the publisher will pay attention to. Another attention-grabbing signal is really good sales for remasters of games from the franchise. If there are really large engagement numbers for the game or franchise on social media, streaming viewers, etc. then that’s an attention-grabbing signal. Capcom green lit the development of Street Fighter 4 in large part because of the strength of the sales of SF2 HD Remix and SF3 Third Strike Remastered.

I should note specifically: Piracy numbers are not attention-getting in the way you want. Publishers want to know they can make money. Piracy will not encourage them reach that conclusion.

Four guys jump through a rolling hula hoop with careful timingALT

The unfortunate reality here is this: for the publisher to react favorably, you must show that large numbers of players are interested, and you must prove that these players are willing to spend on the franchise. If the numbers and money aren’t shown to be there, the publisher probably won’t bite. Even if these conditions do line up, it still isn’t a guaranteed deal. Other ducks must also line up favorably - the old games probably need to have been preserved reasonably well if there’s to be a remaster. The IP rights for the franchise must not be in some kind of legal purgatory. The publisher must have funding, a development team capable of doing the job, and a slot in their release schedule to put the game out. Then the project has to begin and we have to hope that the development manages to deliver within the schedule and budget.

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