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Survey of the Video Game Reissue Market in the United States

Authors: Phil Salvador;

Survey of the Video Game Reissue Market in the United States

Abstract

This study examines the current extent of the video game reissue market in the United States. While the video game industry and cultural heritage institutions agree that video games should be preserved for both entertainment and study, there is disagreement about whether the commercial market preempts the need for libraries, museums, and archives to expand their preservation activities. To better inform these discussions, we gathered evidence about what portion of historical games are actually still in commercial distribution. We believe this is the first major study to analyze the availability rates for a broad sample of historical games in this manner. The results are stark: Only 13 percent of classic video games published in the United States are currently in release (n = 1500, ±2.5%, 95% CI). These low numbers are consistent across platform ecosystems and time periods. Troublingly, the reissue rate drops below 3 percent for games released prior to 1985—the foundational era of video games—indicating that the interests of the marketplace may not align with the needs of video game researchers. Our experiences gathering data for this study suggest that these problems will intensify over time due to a low diversity of reissue sources and the long-term volatility of digital game storefronts. Our results question whether the commercial market alone can adequately preserve the medium of video games, particularly for the needs of researchers. While this study does not make specific recommendations for improving the state of game availability, it instead offers statistics that can guide future discussions about the role of cultural institutions in video game preservation.

The results of this study are accurate through April 15, 2023. Changes to game availability after this date were not recorded. Version 1.1 of this report includes fixes for various minor typographic and information errors.

Keywords

game preservation, software preservation

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download
citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
views
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