So… is there even a point to buying physical discs anymore, especially for the purposes of preservation and keeping an inalienable collection? If all discs do is set up a download, when the servers go dark, your options for playing that game get severely curtailed. If not, are the options for preservation fully out of the layman’s hands, or are there things regular folks like me can do to keep games available outside of corporate whims?

Not all of them do this, but many of them do now. It’s been this way for a long time already. Games today get patches quite regularly. Console certification even has a “conditional pass” result where the submitted version of the game passes cert, but requires the publisher to submit a day 1 patch to fix a bunch of additional issues (e.g. Cyberpunk 2077, where they actually failed cert on their day 1 patch, leading to a post-gold delay). If those patches are no longer available, even a physical disc with all of the launch game data will likely have some major problems when trying to play them (assuming you have everything needed to play like functioning hardware and display devices).

Old dev kits stacked up on a deskALT

Beyond this, there’s still the consideration that you can’t really patch a console game yourself either - you either need the console OS and the PSN/XBL networks to still exist and support the game and patch in order to get the patch binary onto your console and apply it, or you need to emulate that environment externally. If backend network support for the old consoles goes down, you’ll be unable to patch those games, even if you did somehow manage to preserve the patch binaries.

Several characters from Destiny act out a memeALT

You should also realize that preservation of some game titles have always been out of the question. There is no way that players could have ever preserved the launch version of Ultima Online (or any other MMOG) no matter what they did. The only way for external groups to preserve the game would be to reverse-engineer the data and game server, but that’s still just an approximation at best. There’s really no chance for people to preserve a game like Destiny or even client/server mobile titles like Dragalia Lost which just ended service earlier the week of this post.

DJ Ruby Rhod sighs angrily.ALT

Preservation of games is… difficult. Personally, I don’t think it should be up to the regular person to preserve games - we literally cannot in many situations. I think that the best way to preserve games is to lobby lawmakers and pass some kind of legislation that offers game publishers some kind of benefit for preserving old and historic games and making them available to the public, similar to how donors can get major tax writeoffs for donating artifacts to museums. Publishers likely won’t do anything to help until there’s something in it for them, and they’re the ones we need to convince to preserve games.

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