177: The Vintage Game Preservation Society

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The Vintage Game Preservation Society

Want to reconnect with the games of your youth? Be prepared to break the law. Les Chappell explores the (not so) seedy underbelly of the online abandonware community.

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Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

Home of the Underdogs has been inactive for quite a while now. Apparently it is run by a Thai woman but for the last couple of she has not touched the site. There have been no updates or uploads since I think the beginning of 2006. It all still works I think (discovered it about a year ago)but I assume if it went down, that would be it.

As it mentions at the end, Abandonware isn't about piracy -- we're talking about things that are no longer sold. Sure we could find the games at flea markets or garage sales, but that's hit-or-miss and won't give any money to the game producers anyways.

The actual people who created the game probably don't even work at the company that would make money if we DID manage to find a way to send the company money for them. (And, based on my admittedly limited personal experience with the actual creators, they're usually just thrilled that people want to play their old games, and could care less about getting the $2 that Donald Duck's Playground might retail for today.)

If the companies start selling the games again, then they're no longer abandonware and the download links are removed and replaced with links to places that sell the software. If this is piracy, then it's the most benign form of piracy that I've ever seen. Much nicer than things like Gameslop, who make their money reselling actively-available software, giving NO money to the original content creators.

chronobreak:

bkd69:

TsunamiWombat:
It's still theft. Sorry.

Just because you say so doesn't make it so.

Nah man, it's deff so. It's theft. It's stealing. After reading through 3 pages of arguments, I still don't get what's wrong with a lot of you people. You're splitting hairs. Call a spade a spade.

The original point of copyright was that it would eventually lapse.

I pause here, while RIAA-types collect themselves.

Copyright law, like patent law, has the ultimate end of enriching society by encouraging people to contribute to the "idea pool". It is supposed to encourage creators by giving them a (time-limited!) monopoly on their contributions, so that they can profit from them and continue to contribute; it's also supposed to encourage others to pick up those ideas after that monopoly period ends and use them to create new works (just like patents) or at least to appreciate them long afterward instead of letting them become lost and forgotten.

The problem is that the period of copyright has been creeping up; originally 25 years after creation, some jurisdictions now recognise 75 years or more. Even more bizzarely, some have clauses setting copyright expiry at a certain period after the death of the creator; which sounds alright at first, until you consider copyrights held by corporate entities which are theoretically immortal. So when do these ideas enter the "common pool"? The question is especially murky for games.

Abandonware sites work to filling in the second half of the copyright goal, hopefully in a manner that doesn't interfere with the first half, by recirculating old games. Smart developers will recognise that and encourage the sites to keep their public profile up at no cost to the developers, long after the developers have stopped expecting revenues. Some even release their copyright hold on old titles with an eye towards the free PR bonanza.

I don't condone piracy of current releases, because that violates the first half of copyright's aims and will eventually dry up the pool of new ideas by making creativity too costly, but I also don't condone the "perpetual copyright" mentality that keeps games in forgotten boxes years after the last obsolete disc was sold. Information doesn't have to be free right away, but we're all better off (developers included) if it does become free after a few years.

-- Steve

I have to admit it: I owe Home of the Underdogs, Abandonia and other abandonware sites for a good deal of relived memories of my younger childhood. Around the time that I had my second computer, when I was about twelve, I played a lot of shareware titles of old DOS games. I had no 3D graphics card; my computer would run little better. I remembered years of fun with these titles, despite the fact that I could never complete them, but they were obscure games, and I never heard anything about them outside my own gameplay.

Fast-forward about eight years, and some of these games have left indelible marks in my mind. However, even at the age of twenty, I suffer from some atrocious memory problems, where I often find myself wondering whether a given memory is simply a figment of my imagination. Home of the Underdogs assured me that I hadn't been delusional - that many of the games that I knew of had existed, and in a surprisingly large number of cases, had been given top ratings by the abandonware players.

With these resources at my disposal, I found myself able to finish games that I'd given up hope of ever finding again, along with brand-new experiences, including the much acclaimed System Shock 2.

But not every game that I downloaded was done under illicit terms. Some of them, particularly the Elite series, which were some of the most technically impressive games ever made, reached my hands through the wonder of freeware releases, much as Bethesda has done with Arena, and EA with Command & Conquer. I'd like to see more of these incentives, because they really do open up the gameplay of a previous generation to a new generation of gamers. I'd also like to see more retro game releases on Steam, because I wouldn't mind paying at all for an experience worth the expense.

I herd so much good about System Shock 2 that I searched high and low for a used copy of the game. When that search turned up nothing I look to the internet to find the game. Finally I found it at some abandonware website, downloaded it and went through the process of making it work for Win XP. All said and done I finally managed to play the game, but after about an hour I realized..."Hey, this is like Bioshock but with blocky graphics and bad guys that move in slo-mo." So I stopped playing SS2 and instead fired up Bioshock again on max difficulty.

On another note for those who still love pinball you can download emulators of your favorite pinball tables complete with the original ROMs.

Half the fun of Home of the Underdogs for me was reading the description of the added titles back when it still updated. I didn't even download the games, but still, I was introduced to titles I'd overlooked or just plain didn't know about.

bkd69:
Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

Pirates will always have more sex appeal than commoners!

I openly celebrate pirates because I do buy games legitimately. Half the time I need a hack to play the game I bought because they don't have a fix for whatever problem ails me. I own Star Control 2 for example, but play a hack/remake because the original will not work on any of my computers (I had to retire The Rust Bucket). Even with newer stuff I find that some retarded protection measure stops me from playing a game I legitimately purchased from the store. I can spend several days troubleshooting with the company with no real guarantee of success or I can go to hackers and pirates and be up and running in a download.

I love hackers and pirates even though I buy all my games. I figure if a game is worth playing it is worth owning. The problem is sometimes I need their help to actually play a game I have purchased, which is totally lame, but at least it is a little more fair to both the company and me.

Steam's release of the X-COM series potentially sounds the death knell for abandonware. The reason abandonware existed was because the maintenance of retail channels was prohibitively expensive, as there's only so much shelf space and formats become obsolete.

Thanks to a third-party handling the technical side of it (DOSBox, which exists only because Microsoft can't be bothered to cook up its own DOS emulator for its advanced operating systems), it is now possible for a publisher to release its entire back catalog for direct download, and the only overhead is a very minimal amount of disc space. All the up-front costs have been paid, and every sale is (almost) 100% pure profit.

Abandonware enthusiasts may celebrate this re-commercialization because it grants them the wish they've made with their sites, which is a good thing; indeed, seeing the swift and gracious deletion of anything that becomes available anew is exactly the sort of goodwill gesture required to avoid the perception of "they're nothing more than pirates." Staying on the copyright owners' good side benefits everyone.

Abandonware will still be up, I should think. A good number of game companies have closed down, after all -- I'm really not sure who would still hold the rights to some of those games. I also can't imagine some of the games that I'd only play for nostalgia purposes to be released for a cash fee -- it's not so much the fee that would be the problem, it's the implied promise that the games would *work*. If I download something from the interwebs, I feel it's my responsibility to make it work on my computer -- if I get it from the game creator, then I expect THEM to make it work, or give me my money back. Are they going to make enough profit to justify that cost?

Gametap is a more likely service to destroy Abandonware -- but even there, it's not going to be able to do much about games that no longer have owners.

foolishnun:
Home of the Underdogs has been inactive for quite a while now. Apparently it is run by a Thai woman but for the last couple of she has not touched the site. There have been no updates or uploads since I think the beginning of 2006. It all still works I think (discovered it about a year ago)but I assume if it went down, that would be it.

the Forum is still active. Still posting strong

bkd69:
Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

Did you read the editor's note? Issue 177 is the dark side of gaming culture.

SimuLord:
Steam's release of the X-COM series potentially sounds the death knell for abandonware. The reason abandonware existed was because the maintenance of retail channels was prohibitively expensive, as there's only so much shelf space and formats become obsolete.

GOG.com is another step in the right direction. Given enough time (and money), these sites could become gaming's "museums", something I think the industry definitely needs.

smallharmlesskitten:

foolishnun:
Home of the Underdogs has been inactive for quite a while now. Apparently it is run by a Thai woman but for the last couple of she has not touched the site. There have been no updates or uploads since I think the beginning of 2006. It all still works I think (discovered it about a year ago)but I assume if it went down, that would be it.

the Forum is still active. Still posting strong

It's still active but posting strong might be a bit of an overstatment.

zoozilla:

SimuLord:
Steam's release of the X-COM series potentially sounds the death knell for abandonware. The reason abandonware existed was because the maintenance of retail channels was prohibitively expensive, as there's only so much shelf space and formats become obsolete.

GOG.com is another step in the right direction. Given enough time (and money), these sites could become gaming's "museums", something I think the industry definitely needs.

There will always be abandonware, some games just didn't sell well the first time round, though a developer can release them again at little to no cost for themselfs on the net and try to get some money for it, alot of them probably wouldn't bother.

I have yet to buy a direct download game from any service, I mainly worry what happens if the company goes bust or something happens and they lose the data telling them what games you have bought.

A few comments from the author:

bkd69:
Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

I think if they (abandonware sites) think of themselves as pirates at all, it's only in the sense of digging up buried treasure.

smallharmlesskitten:

foolishnun:
Home of the Underdogs has been inactive for quite a while now. Apparently it is run by a Thai woman but for the last couple of she has not touched the site. There have been no updates or uploads since I think the beginning of 2006. It all still works I think (discovered it about a year ago)but I assume if it went down, that would be it.

the Forum is still active. Still posting strong

Home of the Underdogs is still active, though posting has been absent from the site. Having acquired System Shock 2 through it earlier this year, I can confirm that the majority of downloads are still serviceable.

SimuLord:
Steam's release of the X-COM series potentially sounds the death knell for abandonware. The reason abandonware existed was because the maintenance of retail channels was prohibitively expensive, as there's only so much shelf space and formats become obsolete.

Thanks to a third-party handling the technical side of it (DOSBox, which exists only because Microsoft can't be bothered to cook up its own DOS emulator for its advanced operating systems), it is now possible for a publisher to release its entire back catalog for direct download, and the only overhead is a very minimal amount of disc space. All the up-front costs have been paid, and every sale is (almost) 100% pure profit.

The key here though, and why I don't believe abandonware's going to be killed as a movement by these services, is that a lot of companies may not see the profit in doing this. Yes, some games are particularly popular (LucasArts taking back its adventure games is feasible) but if you loo

To paraphrase Yahtzee's "Fable 2" review, the mentality for companies may be "You can! But why would you want to?"

Author comments continued:

Anton P. Nym:
The original point of copyright was that it would eventually lapse.

I pause here, while RIAA-types collect themselves.

Copyright law, like patent law, has the ultimate end of enriching society by encouraging people to contribute to the "idea pool". It is supposed to encourage creators by giving them a (time-limited!) monopoly on their contributions, so that they can profit from them and continue to contribute; it's also supposed to encourage others to pick up those ideas after that monopoly period ends and use them to create new works (just like patents) or at least to appreciate them long afterward instead of letting them become lost and forgotten.

And here's the main point of abandonware - it treats these games like they've become public domain, providing them free to those of interest. And the community is fully aware that they're not public domain, so if there's any protest they take them down. I agree with the point of public domain personally, and the argument that if something is left alone long enough and no one's going to touch it others have the right to do so.

RAKtheUndead:
I have to admit it: I owe Home of the Underdogs, Abandonia and other abandonware sites for a good deal of relived memories of my younger childhood. Around the time that I had my second computer, when I was about twelve, I played a lot of shareware titles of old DOS games. I had no 3D graphics card; my computer would run little better. I remembered years of fun with these titles, despite the fact that I could never complete them, but they were obscure games, and I never heard anything about them outside my own gameplay.

Fast-forward about eight years, and some of these games have left indelible marks in my mind. However, even at the age of twenty, I suffer from some atrocious memory problems, where I often find myself wondering whether a given memory is simply a figment of my imagination. Home of the Underdogs assured me that I hadn't been delusional - that many of the games that I knew of had existed, and in a surprisingly large number of cases, had been given top ratings by the abandonware players.

With these resources at my disposal, I found myself able to finish games that I'd given up hope of ever finding again, along with brand-new experiences, including the much acclaimed System Shock 2.

Great to see my experience isn't an outlier in the the abandonware world.

I'm a long time member of Abandonia, so I do love old games. Anyway...

Abandonware is a tricky question. It's illegal but not illegal. It's a kind of a grey zone between piracy, corporate theft and free entertainment. Because, how can you steal something, that is not sold, not in circulation and, well, obsolete in many other ways. Simply put, it's worthless to many people, including the makers of the game, that's why they don't sell it anymore, right? They "abandoned" it. If you see a discarded piece of hardware near a dumpster, but you think you can use it for something, pick it up and take it home, is that stealing? Didn't think so...

The main point of abandonware sites is to preserve and make old games generally accessable and playable. As I said before, companies who don't give a flying V about their old games, generally don't really care what happens to them. Abandonware sites work on that same "don't care" principle, because as long as the owner of the game doesn't care, they can continue to work. If all the old game's owners were to rise up and claim back their titles, that would be the end of the abandonware scene, but that won't happen, ever. Why? Because people don't care. Companies don't care, at least most of them don't. They are both busy with Halo 3, and Far Cry 2, and don't care about Mine Bombers, Shadow Warrior or Commander Keen. But because we care, we preserve them.

People should thank abandonware sites, not condemn them. Those people preserve history, our history, and like it or not, video games are a part of it. I, for one, am proud I was there to witness those awesome games in their full glory when they were released, and I'm proud to be able to play them now and many years later I can show them to my kids "see Junior, this what your gamer Daddy was playing when he was your age" and it will be AWESOME!

I've never understood why any game company would continue to hold copyright on a game they're not distributing anymore. You can't make money off something you're not selling, so how can you lose a profit you're not making? To quote Cary Grant in Charade: "A third of nothing is nothing."

Holding copyright on abandonware is counterproductive for a veritable rainbow of reasons. First off, as mentioned, it doesn't benefit the company in any way, and makes them look selfish, greedy and irrational in the process. But more than that, free online distribution of their vintage game libraries would make an excellent word-of-mouth marketing strategy. Every marketer knows that giving out free samples is one of the most sure-fire ways to stir up interest in your product (hence the logic of game demos), and this presents an even better method for doing that. It's the ultimate free sample strategy: It stirs up interest in your company, makes you look generous, and doesn't cut into your profits at all.

Now, I'm not saying the game companies should set up free downloads for all their abandoned games on their own company websites. That would hurt them, since gamers would think "Well, why don't I just wait for the free version to come out in a couple of years?" among any gamer who has a PC capable of running the ROM, or who will have a PC capable of running it by the time the ROM comes out. Just don't stamp down on sites like Home of the Underdogs.

Sylocat:
Now, I'm not saying the game companies should set up free downloads for all their abandoned games on their own company websites. That would hurt them, since gamers would think "Well, why don't I just wait for the free version to come out in a couple of years?" among any gamer who has a PC capable of running the ROM, or who will have a PC capable of running it by the time the ROM comes out. Just don't stamp down on sites like Home of the Underdogs.

I beg to differ. People can pretty much download any game they want when it is released, even before that. It's not a question of waiting for a free download anymore. For a few years now, it's more like a moral choice, if you want to buy a game or just want to play it. Every major title is available on torrent trackers and warez sites at the time of release, most of them even before it is actually sold.

I had the "pleasure" to grow up behind the iron curtain, so when I was a kid, video games were almost non-existent to us. When you guys were playing SNES, Sega and PC games, all the entertainment we got was cheap, poor copies of game consoles with counterfeit cartridges. I was very lucky to have a second-hand Commodore +4 with a cassette drive, because we could trade the tapes with games on them, which we copied with my old stereo. Piracy was pretty much common then, and we didn't feel guilty about it, because there were simply no games around to buy, they were not sold anywhere. Copying and sharing games with friends was the only way to get new entertainment. Either that, or get out to the flea market and buy poor-quality countefeit cartridges and consoles, which were but a bleak shadow of the real ones.

I remember playing a poor Mario clone, and thought that was awesome. Imagine how shocked and flabbergasted I was when I saw the real deal a few years later. So this is why it's so important to me to preserve these old games, because they are awesome, and these are the childhood memories I couldn't really have...

Playbahnosh:
I beg to differ. People can pretty much download any game they want when it is released, even before that. It's not a question of waiting for a free download anymore. For a few years now, it's more like a moral choice, if you want to buy a game or just want to play it. Every major title is available on torrent trackers and warez sites at the time of release, most of them even before it is actually sold.

I had the "pleasure" to grow up behind the iron curtain, so when I was a kid, video games were almost non-existent to us. When you guys were playing SNES, Sega and PC games, all the entertainment we got was cheap, poor copies of game consoles with counterfeit cartridges. I was very lucky to have a second-hand Commodore +4 with a cassette drive, because we could trade the tapes with games on them, which we copied with my old stereo. Piracy was pretty much common then, and we didn't feel guilty about it, because there were simply no games around to buy, they were not sold anywhere. Copying and sharing games with friends was the only way to get new entertainment. Either that, or get out to the flea market and buy poor-quality countefeit cartridges and consoles, which were but a bleak shadow of the real ones.

I remember playing a poor Mario clone, and thought that was awesome. Imagine how shocked and flabbergasted I was when I saw the real deal a few years later. So this is why it's so important to me to preserve these old games, because they are awesome, and these are the childhood memories I couldn't really have...

Ouch, that must suck.

But my point was, you'd be surprised where people draw the line at being willing to pirate. Yes, you CAN download pretty much any game nowadays (if you have a computer that can run it), but the whole "moral choice" thing really does affect some people, even when the temptation is there. Setting up a "free downloads of our abandonware" section on the site, in THEORY shouldn't affect people's mindset, but you'd be surprised how much it would. It doesn't make sense, but it's the way the human brain works (or doesn't work).

Sylo: They don't distribute because that implies some measure of support, even if it's just rebuffing all the folks who don't read the "Will not work on Windows Vista" warnings it takes up some of their budgeted support staff time. They don't just ditch it because IP is valuable, look at all the retro games coming out for the Virtual Console, for example.

That said, I think the gaming companies are all aware of places like HotU, and because they're also aware that HotU will respect their wishes if they want to start selling it, just kind of look away. Perhaps the best arrangent that we can hope for while the laws remain outdated.

Personally, I've always thought that a better way to handle corporate copyright protection would be to give the first 2-3 years for free, but after that charge fees on a sliding scale for each additional year of protection sought.

I'm still waiting for 7th Guest and 11th Hour to pop up on some abandonware site, or GOG, or maybe even Steam. I miss those games, particularly the latter.

Sylocat:
But my point was, you'd be surprised where people draw the line at being willing to pirate. Yes, you CAN download pretty much any game nowadays (if you have a computer that can run it), but the whole "moral choice" thing really does affect some people, even when the temptation is there. Setting up a "free downloads of our abandonware" section on the site, in THEORY shouldn't affect people's mindset, but you'd be surprised how much it would. It doesn't make sense, but it's the way the human brain works (or doesn't work).

True. At least true for your area anyway. I see you are from the US, so two different parts of the world are communicating here, and it shows. I see your point, I've been reading stuff about this, and I know the western standing on these issues. But people from Central or Eastern Europe are of a different mindset, mainly because of our history. I'm not making excuses here, this was always an issue when talking about stuff like this.

Here, it's not a question of drawing the line at being willing to pirate. More like drawing the line at willing NOT to pirate. It IS a moral choice, just the exact opposite of what you are used to. You may say this is wrong, I say this is normal. I'm not trying to turn this thread into a debate on piracy, but these things are connected. I don't say it's okay to pirate, I just say it was, and is pretty common here, much more common than actually buying a game, the mindset is different. And it's different for abandonware also. See, abandonware is a way to experience games we only heard of back then, but never got to play when they were released, or just some bleak remake. Imagine playing the real Mario, Sonic, System Shock or Fallout for the first time, many many years after their peak, just because you didn't have the chance to get them while they were popular. Most of these games won't even run on modern computers. I only got around to play Fallout 1 two months ago, when I found a copy on Vatera (the hungarian eBay). I'm not alone with this, there are many people from around here and all over the world, who didn't have the chance to see these games, and now they can, all thanks to the abandonware scene.

Kwil:
Sylo: They don't distribute because that implies some measure of support, even if it's just rebuffing all the folks who don't read the "Will not work on Windows Vista" warnings it takes up some of their budgeted support staff time. They don't just ditch it because IP is valuable, look at all the retro games coming out for the Virtual Console, for example.

I didn't mean THEY should distribute it. Check my post, I just meant they shouldn't crack down on places like HotU distributing it, at least not until they want to start selling it again via places like the virtual console. Keep in mind, just a few years ago nobody knew things like the virtual console would ever take off. And there are several games out there that might never make it onto the virtual console at all (Remember how long Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars took to make it up there? And it was one of the most popular games in the franchise!).

Playbahnosh:

Sylocat:
But my point was, you'd be surprised where people draw the line at being willing to pirate. Yes, you CAN download pretty much any game nowadays (if you have a computer that can run it), but the whole "moral choice" thing really does affect some people, even when the temptation is there. Setting up a "free downloads of our abandonware" section on the site, in THEORY shouldn't affect people's mindset, but you'd be surprised how much it would. It doesn't make sense, but it's the way the human brain works (or doesn't work).

True. At least true for your area anyway. I see you are from the US, so two different parts of the world are communicating here, and it shows. I see your point, I've been reading stuff about this, and I know the western standing on these issues. But people from Central or Eastern Europe are of a different mindset, mainly because of our history. I'm not making excuses here, this was always an issue when talking about stuff like this.

Here, it's not a question of drawing the line at being willing to pirate. More like drawing the line at willing NOT to pirate. It IS a moral choice, just the exact opposite of what you are used to. You may say this is wrong, I say this is normal. I'm not trying to turn this thread into a debate on piracy, but these things are connected. I don't say it's okay to pirate, I just say it was, and is pretty common here, much more common than actually buying a game, the mindset is different. And it's different for abandonware also. See, abandonware is a way to experience games we only heard of back then, but never got to play when they were released, or just some bleak remake. Imagine playing the real Mario, Sonic, System Shock or Fallout for the first time, many many years after their peak, just because you didn't have the chance to get them while they were popular. Most of these games won't even run on modern computers. I only got around to play Fallout 1 two months ago, when I found a copy on Vatera (the hungarian eBay). I'm not alone with this, there are many people from around here and all over the world, who didn't have the chance to see these games, and now they can, all thanks to the abandonware scene.

I'm not sure where the problem is between our viewpoints, since I can't see anywhere I disagree. I just came out in favor of people being able to get abandonware for free.

Playbahnosh:
Imagine playing the real Mario, Sonic, System Shock or Fallout for the first time, many many years after their peak, just because you didn't have the chance to get them while they were popular. Most of these games won't even run on modern computers. I only got around to play Fallout 1 two months ago, when I found a copy on Vatera (the hungarian eBay). I'm not alone with this, there are many people from around here and all over the world, who didn't have the chance to see these games, and now they can, all thanks to the abandonware scene.

Abandonia members may be familiar with this, but if Fallout's something you're looking for this site popped up while I was doing my research. Full list of Fallout and Unreal games here, plus Giants: Citizen Kabuto, which while being one of the buggiest games I've ever played had quite an interesting charm to it. So if people are uncomfortable with piracy, here's something to show you can get older games at a price.

The post on Abandonia also says it well, with a heading "Someone finally gets it": http://www.abandonia.com/en/node/24255.

@LesIsMore

Yes, I'm familiar with GOG, (being said that I'm an Abandonia member and all) and been eyeing some titles myself. Yes, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is one of my favorites. I just love the Mercs dialogues.

But GOG seems to be a more commercial effort, than preservation. Just saw the news section, and I don't know how UT2004, FlatOut or even Unreal 2 could be "old" compared to Dungeon Keeper or Dynablaster for example. It seems they are focusing on the more popular titles from not-so-long-ago that has more selling power, but then again I could be mistaken...

Playbahnosh:
@LesIsMore

Yes, I'm familiar with GOG, (being said that I'm an Abandonia member and all) and been eyeing some titles myself. Yes, Giants: Citizen Kabuto is one of my favorites. I just love the Mercs dialogues.

But GOG seems to be a more commercial effort, than preservation. Just saw the news section, and I don't know how UT2004, FlatOut or even Unreal 2 could be "old" compared to Dungeon Keeper or Dynablaster for example. It seems they are focusing on the more popular titles from not-so-long-ago that has more selling power, but then again I could be mistaken...

I think it's more to do with the publishers involved. So far, I think they've got Epic, Strategy First, Interplay, and Codemasters (I might be missing one).

Once you put up all of their old, "classic" games for sale, there's not much choice but to sell some of their newer offerings.

Now, if they got the support of LucasArts, for example, then they'd have a bunch of great older titles to release and probably wouldn't bother with newer games.

Plus, they're only $10 at the most; I don't know if "selling power" means as much with such a low price point. I mean, FlatOut is only $6.

Playbahnosh:
@LesIsMore
But GOG seems to be a more commercial effort, than preservation. Just saw the news section, and I don't know how UT2004, FlatOut or even Unreal 2 could be "old" compared to Dungeon Keeper or Dynablaster for example. It seems they are focusing on the more popular titles from not-so-long-ago that has more selling power, but then again I could be mistaken...

Not really trying to compare GOG to abandonware, just bringing up another way people can play "Fallout" if they choose - a game locked in eternal struggle with "Baldur's Gate" for my title of personal best RPG ever.

bkd69:
Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

Thievery, no. Stealing, no. Piracy, Yes.

Legal, yes.

Please don't muddle words here, copyright piracy and theft are not the same thing. I hate that I have to literally state this, but when I legally or illegaly copy a file, the original file remains in place and in tact. My hard drive does not gain weight or matter. All I am doing is reconfiguring my already purchased ones and zeros in a manner which matches somebody elses ones and zeros.

Nobody is literally stealing anything. It is a copyright infringement issue, plain and simple so lets not get hysterical and mischaractarize file copying as thievery.

BallPtPenTheif:

bkd69:
Thievery, stealing, and piracy.

I'm shocked and apalled that the Escapist would publish an article that so celebrates pirates.

Thievery, no. Stealing, no. Piracy, Yes.

Legal, yes.

Please don't muddle words here, copyright piracy and theft are not the same thing. I hate that I have to literally state this, but when I legally or illegaly copy a file, the original file remains in place and in tact. My hard drive does not gain weight or matter. All I am doing is reconfiguring my already purchased ones and zeros in a manner which matches somebody elses ones and zeros.

Nobody is literally stealing anything. It is a copyright infringement issue, plain and simple so lets not get hysterical and mischaractarize file copying as thievery.

Please tell that to Congress. And the Supreme Court.

Bring Crosley Bendix along with you.

OuroborosChoked:

Please tell that to Congress. And the Supreme Court.

I don't think those people know how computers works, sort of a lost cause.

While it may be illegal, my personal stance on abandonware is this:
I have 3 steps to getting an old game
1. Look for it for sale online (GOG.com, Steam, etc.) And by for sale, I mean at a price that isn't a joke. $60 for a used game from '99, I don't think so. Anyway, used sales don't benefit the publisher or developer, so meh.
2. If I can't find it legally, download off of an abandonware site (except for ESA no-gos of course)
3. If it becomes legally sold again, I'll either delete it from my hard drive and deal with the loss, or delete it then buy it legally. I did this with Freespace 2 when it was released on GOG.com

By the way, I love GOG.com, because I don't feel like I need to worry about what will happen if they go under, due to the lack of DRM on the titles they put out.

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