The ESA Says Its Members Won't Support Plans For Online 'Game Preservation' Libraries 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

Despite it being the biggest entertainment medium on the face of the planet in terms of revenue, efforts to properly preserve the history of video gaming continue to face opposition – even from those organisations that you'd assume would be in favour of it.

The Electronic Software Association (ESA) is sadly one of those groups. In a recent hearing on the topic of game preservation, lawyer Steve Englund was quizzed on the possibility of online libraries being allowed to preserve vintage games. Englund replied in the negative, saying that there's "[no] combination of limitations [ESA members] would support to provide remote access."

Englund adds that, in his opinion, physical buildings housing collections of vintage games aren't the answer. He claims that an online archive with "few restrictions" would be "insufficient progress" when it comes to properly preserving video game history.

However, during the hearing, other speakers made it clear that something has to be done to make sure game preservation can continue, irrespective of the interests of ESA members and rights holders – otherwise, gaming history is at risk of being lost forever.

Technology lawyer Kendra Albert made the point that the ESA has thus far been unwilling to work with preservationists, with proposals apparently "never enough" to pacify the rights holders of the games in question.

Meanwhile, Video Game History Foundation library director Phil Salvador argued public libraries lacked the resources or knowledge to create and curate meaningful collections of video games.

The ESA has previously stopped attempts by the Library of Congress to create a framework for game preservation and has stated that this work is best done by publishers.

As noted by Game, a recent study by the Video Game History Foundation revealed that 87 percent of games released before 2010 are "critically endangered".