Boss Rush Banter: Has the Meaning of Game Preservation Been Tainted?

Video game preservation is a practice in which people look to minimize ways in which a game (or games) become locked or limited to a certain console or other medium. It also looks to allow current gamers to enjoy this game in a modern format. In most cases this is a good practice, but are there limits?

Recently Nintendo released the latest title in the Metroid series, Metroid Dread, for the Nintendo Switch on October 8th, 2021. By the end of that weekend the media outlet Kotaku published an article titled, “Metroid Dread is Already Running Great on Switch Emulators.” The title alone left many baffled due to its highlighting of emulation in a new game. Shortly after the backlash, the title dropped the word great and was renamed “Metroid Dread is Already Running on Switch Emulators.” This also prompted Kotaku to respond as seen below.

An earlier version of this story was understood by many readers to be a direct suggestion to illegally download this just-released game. We regret this interpretation. Kotaku believes emulation is a vital part of the world of gaming, not least when it comes to game preservation, while not directly encouraging anyone to break the law and download games they have not purchased.

What I want to focus on from this statement is when they say that “emulation is a vital part of gaming, not least when it comes to game preservation.” To me, this statement makes it seem as though preserving games is important through emulation, but where is the line drawn to make that call, and how far is too far?

Now, I do believe emulation is a great way to play games from the past, when and if there is little to no option to play it on the original medium. When you say something like this, you must be careful to not seemingly promote newer games in the realms of preservation, especially a game that is in its infancy. This can hurt sales, the company, and the overall value of the series. In the long run it shortens the life span of when it is and isn’t okay to emulate a game. The fact that consoles such as the Sony PS3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii have already been labeled as “retro consoles” for being 10 years or older allows the acceptance of emulation on video games much sooner. While the practice of preservation can be considered noble to the overall movement to keep older games relevant to the latest generation, I believe if the game is no longer sold by the company and is on a system that is no longer supported, the practice of game preservation is a valid process.

How should we determine when and if we should preserve games? Do you think Kotaku should have replied the way they did utilizing game preservation as a way to defend the original articles title? Do you support emulation? Why or why not? Let us know your thoughts on this subject.

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