Opinion

What Do Games At Auction Mean For Game Preservation?

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You can’t have missed the news this week. A sealed copy of Skyrim sold for $600, and a sealed copy of Mario 64 went for more than $1 million. Both of these games came in graded boxes, meaning that they’re preserved in a certain condition. For games preservation purposes, this is extremely important. It means that the game won’t degrade in quality, and future generations will be able to see what a sealed copy of that game looked like when it first launched. With the fact that Skyrim is only $5 from an actual store still today aside though, this trend of people buying games for millions at auction is dangerous for games preservation as a movement.

The whole point of game preservation is that people want to preserve games for future generations. I want my daughter to be able to play the games I grew up with, and thanks to some dedicated individuals, that’s entirely possible. Even if there’s one copy of a game that can’t be played because it’s in this case out there, I’m glad that at least it exists, but only if my daughter can actually see it. I’d imagine that the best place for this would be a museum, but that’s going to happen while millionaires are buying the games to store in their personal collection.

The reality here is that if millionaires keep buying these games, they’re going to end up in collections that no one can enjoy. You’d just have to be a rich person’s friend, and that’s not accessible. Game preservation is about making all games accessible, regardless of who you are. If this trend continues, there will be an elite collection of games out there that no one can ever see again. They’ll be lost until the descendants of those rich people sell them after their death. It’s a crying shame, because after that the value will be even higher, since I’d expect it’s celebrities who own these now.

The bottom line is that game preservation requires the rich to back off or invest in the movement. If someone wants to own a sealed copy of a rare game, that’s great. But give it to a museum on loan. That way you can make a little money out of it while the world gets to enjoy it, and you can still sell it in 20 years.

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