This is a great GDC talk. Go watch it and be amazed:
What the GDC speaker wonders about is why does the movie industry re-release all its movies but the video game industry doesn’t? I know why.
The truth is that no one wants to compete against the classics. What game maker today wants to compete against Pac-Man, Super Mario Brothers 3, and the rest of the greats? A huge revolution would occur if old games remained in print. It would force the game industry to make DIFFERENT games and/or make BETTER games. The game industry doesn’t have the talent to do this. It is extremely hard to make a video game, let alone a fantastically great video game. If gamers find out that the old games are better, they stop buying the Game Industry crap and become a bunch of Malstroms.
Also, emulated old games makes the audience want to get the actual hardware. It leads them back to the old consoles. Retro game stores will confirm this. When a game is re-released through emulation, sales spike for that game in its original form. Emulation sparks sales for the retro versions. I, myself, would not have bought a Turbografx 16 had it not been for playing Turbografx 16 emulated games on the Virtual Console. The Virtual Console led me to the actual hardware.
Preserving online games and online communities is an interesting question and requires a very interesting answer. (I do not know the answer.)
I also like his idea of preserving more than just developer commentary but including the marketing and even consumer reactions. I wonder if 20 years from now, when the Wii turns thirty, if someone tries to contact me to talk about the Wii’s market splash. (yeah right) I do think the spotlight should be on the gamers and not the developers though. The gamer’s context is what fascinates me, not the developer’s context. In the end, the game is defined by the gamers.