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Publishers Talk Video Game Preservation

by Tim Turi on Mar 11, 2011 at 06:14 AM

Like a record company locking away old master tracks or a movie studio archiving reels of film, the video game companies are tasked with the important duty of preserving their rich history. The process is not as simple as storing shoe box filled with cartridges under your bed, however. Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and other important industry publishers offer insight on the preservation process.

Of the 61 video game developers and publishers contacted by Gamasutra for this study, 14 responded. Among them were the big three console manufacturers, along with Sega, Capcom, Namco Bandai, and Gearbox software.

"The source code and all the materials used to build the products for the games released after 2000 are already stored on highly reliable present-day storage media, in secure, temperature & humidity controlled locations, says Ken Lobb of Microsoft Games Studios.” Retrieving the source code and even rebuilding the games is a part of our comprehensive business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) program.”

"As we highlight in our Iwata Asks [interview] series, Nintendo keeps a wealth of materials related to its past games, up to and including even original design sketches and documents, explains Marc Franklin, public relations director at Nintendo.”  Preserving these games lets us reintroduce them to new players while giving older gamers a chance to relive their glory days."

Sony says that it constantly transfers data into storage for backup. The company cites challenges such as BIOS expiration, changing audio formats, and the task of preserving development kits.

"Capcom does have a procedure for preserving their code,” reveals former Capcom producer Ben Judd. “However, these procedures, like many other Japanese publishers, were not instituted until around the 16-bit days. I have actually seen massive stacks of dot-matrix printer paper that contained game code on them.”

Head over to Gamasutra to learn more about video game preservation.

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