According to a new study conducted by the Video Game History Foundation, games that were released before 2010 aren’t very accessible to modern players, with only 13% of the releases being available to purchase in any form.
The foundation compares older games with the availability and survival rate of silent movies, which sits at around 14%, and pre-World War 2 audio recordings, of which only 10% or fewer can be accessed anymore.
The study revolved around games released in the United States before 2010, and included classic systems like the PlayStation 2, the Game Boy, and even going as far back as the Commodore 64 from 1982.
“Imagine if the only way to watch Titanic was to find a used VHS tape, and maintain your own vintage equipment so that you could still watch it,” said Kelsey Lewin of the Video Game History Foundation in a blog post about the study. “And what if no library, not even the Library of Congress, could do any better — they could keep and digitize that VHS of Titanic, but you’d have to go all the way there to watch it.”
Describing the situation as “dire”, the foundation cites quite a few issues getting in the way of making older titles commercially available to play these days. An example is classic Nintendo 64 FPS GoldenEye 007, which only recently became available to modern players. The game is a victim of complex rights issues, with six separate rights holders.
Classic FPS No One Lives Forever, on the other hand, has three rights holders, with none of them being quite sure who has rights to the IP, leaving the game in perpetual limbo.