Art is convenient when housed in digital files. Art survives when given physical form.
The medieval scholars had the right idea. A work of art cannot be lost if it is copied. Though your monastery may be ransacked, though a book may be burned, the art lives on if another copy has been sent across the country, and those who received it have, in turn, made a new copy to send farther out.
A version of the above paragraph has appeared in a previous article. It may not be great art, but it’s now twice as likely to survive a mistake, a glitch, or a failure. These are the odds that art preservation needs to play.
Statistically, very few video games have been in any sense preserved. The video games with the greatest chance of living on for future generations are those given physical form on cartridges and discs. It creates many points of failure: the company may go out of business, but the game lives on; the digital storefront selling the game may die, but the game lives on; a percentage of the games themselves may corrupt, but the number of copies in existence ensures that at least some will live on. Art’s survival is a numbers game.
We live in an era where digital storefronts dominate the market on PC and console. Outside of sites like GOG, which provide the full game for the customer to download and run forever, these storefronts depend (to varying degrees) on a central server and your own hard drive space. Each storefront is a centralized point of failure that could wipe out decades of games that are otherwise unpreserved.
The Baldur’s Gate 3 Deluxe Edition contains the game on disc, and importantly contains it on disc for PC as well. No longer a digital exclusive, one of the defining games of this generation will have a permanent home. Art survives when given physical form. Importantly, the soundtrack CDs mean the OST will be preserved in a uncompressed format, which is useful for preservation as well.
This is wonderful, and I hope this physical edition’s success will signal a shift.
Not every studio can afford to produce an edition as lavish as this, but I hope this opens the doors for more independent studios to offer any kind of true physical release. Even a CD on a jewel case is something I would happily buy instead of relying on a online storefront.
You can obtain your own physical copy of Baldur’s Gate 3‘s deluxe edition here.
Featured Image: Larian
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