Video Game Publishers want to Stop Museums and Collectors from Making Defunct Games Playable Again

Monday, April 13, 2015
Mario Kart for Wii server was shut down in 2014

When you buy something, you’d like to keep it as long as it’s useful to you. With videogames, however, you get to keep them only as long as the manufacturer lets you.


Game manufacturers often cut off server access for games they no longer want to support. Game enthusiasts sometimes put up their own servers, or modify games so that don’t need servers, to continue playing, but game companies have fought this, comparing it to piracy.


The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), with law student Kendra Albert, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions to enable enthusiasts and collectors to continue playing abandoned games.


The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is fighting the request. “[A] prohibition on the hacking of technological protection measures controlling access to protected works (even if the hacking does not result in any copyright infringement) [is] necessary in order to encourage innovation in the online distribution of copyrighted works,” ESA Senior Vice-President and General Counsel Christian Genetski told a Congressional hearing last year. In other words, if people can play old games, they won’t buy new games.


Also stuck in legal limbo by server shutdowns are groups such as the Internet Archive, museums like Oakland, California’s Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, and researchers who study video games as a cultural and historical medium, according to EFF.


The request covers games where single-player or multiplayer play is no longer possible because the game’s servers have been shut down or abandoned.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Videogame Publishers: No Preserving Abandoned Games, Even for Museums and Archives, Because All “Hacking” is Illegal (by Mitch Stoltz, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

EFF Seeks DMCA Exemption to Preserve Abandoned Games (by Andy, Torrent Freak)

An Exemption to the DMCA Would Let Game Fans Keep Abandoned Games Running (by Kendra Albert, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

In the Matter of Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies (Electronic Frontier Foundation) (pdf)


L-DOGG 9 years ago
Gotta protect those old games so they can create new console after new console -without backwards compatability- and sell us the same games we've already bought, over, and over, and over again.
Jack 9 years ago
Just another example of corporations screwing people over with DRM. If I buy a game I should be able to play it whenever and however I want. If you really want me to buy your new games you're gonna have to try harder to make better products.
Pen Dragon 9 years ago
Just another example that we own nothing and have no true freedom.

Leave a comment