Given that video games now generate more revenue than books, music and films, it's odd that the industry as a whole doesn't do a better job of making sure its history is readily available to all.
A recent study showed that almost 90% of classic games aren't physically or digitally available for purchase, which is a significant problem when it comes to preservation.
Speaking with our friends over at VGC, Q-Games boss Dylan Cuthbert – who has worked at Argonaut, Nintendo and Sony during his long and glittering career – has shared his own personal vision for what the future of retro gaming should look like.
Cuthbert has prior form when it comes to going that extra mile to ensure his own studio's games remain accessible; when Sony shut down Q-Games' The Tomorrow Children, the studio purchased the IP so it could re-release it as The Tomorrow Children: Phoenix Edition.
However, Cuthbert feels that this kind of thing shouldn't be necessary in the first place and that the games industry has to do more work when it comes to preserving the legacy of key titles:
Well, I think every game is a legacy, right? So it’s like a book or a movie. I wish the games industry was a bit more like that. So for example, you could go and watch Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and you don’t have to worry about someone having to remake it so you can watch it again – you can just go and watch it. And I think in the games industry, we’re still at a bit of an early stage for that legacy building side of things.
Cuthbert – who worked on the original Star Fox in his younger years – feels that the industry should be doing more with the technology it has to make sure classic titles are always within legal reach:
With virtual systems and cloud technology there should be a way to just basically set up a place where, at least by emulation, all the stuff can be run. And they could even charge for it. It could be on a PlayStation service or anything, but somewhere that you can just go in and say, ‘I want to play the Spectrum version of Bugaboo the Flea, or the C64 version of Spy vs Spy’, and you just bring up the emulator and you just play it.
We’ve got modern streaming technology. It would be great, because you’d just have everything there, including all the obscure games that were around. I mean, there were some really crazy ideas that are just fun to go in and explore – even if they weren’t quite finished as ideas, you still get some inspiration from all that.
Of course, such services do already exist – Antstream Arcade being the most notable – but Cuthbert admits Q-Games is still mulling over its options when it comes to preserving more of its own back catalogue.
In the same interview, Cuthbert discusses Star Fox, Q-Games' DSiWare titles and much more besides. It's well worth a read, so head over to VGC right away.