Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by flu!d, Jul 22, 2018.
Isn't that what I said?
I'd wager it does concern the majority. The amount of press from professional journalists the matter has gotten, as well as the amount of chatter on forums and social media suggests far more people care than you're suggesting.
The etymology of the word is "to ignore", whether voluntarily or involuntarily. I'm concentrating on the latter with my preservation efforts. No different to people putting things in libraries or museums, and the intentions and audiences they have.
There's no "indirect legal threat" to people playing the games, nor emulation authors, nor projects like RetroPie. I can't see the link you're trying to make.
There's also substantial legal precedence to protect emulation authors. See the "Sony v Bleem!" court case.
I was ignorant to your knowledge so I clarified just in case, but I also post in a style that makes it easy for others outside the conversation to follow.
I didn't say there was an indirect legal threat.
It's not the emulation authors we need to worry about, it's the sites distributing roms. We can only hope that Nintendo's efforts fail.
You've lost me. Re-quoting:
Please clarify the bold section.
Ok, by threatening legal action against ROM sites, Nintendo could (and has) shut down ROM sites. What I mean is: the legal threat is not directly or indirectly against end users, however, by threatening the ROM sites they indirectly threaten end user ability to readily obtain ROMS.
OK, yes, thanks for clarifying.
There was some press around that Nintendo lawyers more or less called these sites "low hanging fruit", and admitted that there were still avenues for more technical people to obtain ROMs. I think that's at least some technical maturity on their behalf to admit to the fact that "the Internet never forgets", anything stored on there is forever, and decentralised systems like Torrent and the like are impossible to take down.
So for better or worse, it appears Nintendo's focus is on the masses, and they at least want to remove the "play in your browser" or "download this image and stick it on a $50 computer" type simplicity of ROM hosting sites. That makes a lot of sense, as that is more comparible to their "mini classic" consoles.
Still, of the 714 confirmed licensed NES games, 30 of them being commercially available is a mere 4%. Assuming another dozen or so independently released on other services, and you're up to just shy of 6%, which still means 94% or more of NES games are unavailable to that same audience. And while I'll never argue that Nintendo don't have the current legal right to demand the take down, I still see that as a fault in the design of copyright laws which hurts IP owners as much as audiences. It's not just people missing out on playing these games, but IP owners missing out on profits because it's frequently too difficult (read: expensive lawyer time) to find out who actually owns any given license at any given time.
There are known cases where companies have gone bankrupt, and their IP is sold off in pieces to other companies. Occasionally you get either holding companies or even very odd companies (some company that makes furniture or something equally unrelated to video games) that wants a certain bit of tech, buys a company for that tech, and inadvertently gets a video game license that they (a) don't understand, and (b) don't have any interest in making commercially available. Worse when this happens several times over. Those sorts of situations all but verify the death of that game. And sadly, that's a very frequent occurrence.
The other bit that was touched on in one of the linked articles is that games are often subject to many interlinked licenses, beyond just copyright of the game code. Games that are based on movies, TV shows, real people, sports etc. also had to license those things to be able to go on sale originally, and the details of those licenses can either be lost forever or impossible to technically comply with. So you have eg. Nintendo with platform licenses that applied to all games published on their platforms, who are able to enforce those licenses by taking action against people distributing games, but who legally can't sell specific games themselves.
Same thing has happened with more modern games, where they'll be taken off digital distribution sites like Steam because of an expiring license to eg. a soundtrack or some piece of middleware code used by the game.
One of my favourite indie brawlers, "Scott Pilgrim vs The World", which combines gameplay inspired by the amazing "River City Ransom", and art by amazing Aussie pixel artist Paul Robertson, has vanished from online stores. Not only did the license expire, but because it was digital, you can't even get it second hand.
The "Streets of Rage" series also has licensing issues with its music. "Ancient" own the music, while Sega own the game. That means it often doesn't get included in retro packs because of difficult licensing.
Somewhat related, Bloomberg have an article up today titled "Americans Own Less Stuff, and That’s Reason to Be Nervous"
It talks about the fundamental changes to physical media ownership, and how people are dumping books for ePub/Kindle versions, DVDs/BluRay for Netflix and other streaming services, CDs for Spotify and iTunes, and even outside of media, cars for Uber/Lyft, etc.
The consumer trends are pretty clear. It sounds like anyone whose not making their back catalogue of once-physical available online stuff isn't keeping up with market demands.
the ultimate disposable society.
Is it though? Does having piles and piles of books, DVDs, CDs and games enrich your life? Does owning a car that constantly depreciates in financial value represent a quality investment?
Information is ethereal. We represent it as words or sounds or a bitmask on a ROM, but that's not information. Information is an idea in someone else's head that is put into your head via the physical world in between.
I'm 100% for preserving art of all forms. But I don't see any need to *own* art. I'm happy for information to be a freely accessible pool that people use as they see fit. Digital information especially is much closer to how humans work. If a teacher teaches a child something, that child hasn't "taken" from the teacher in the sense that the teacher is now missing something. Like the analogy of the bowls of pasta - if you take my pasta, I go hungry. But if you take my idea, now we share the idea, and the idea has doubled.
Information is not limited, nor can it be disposed of. When it comes to media, central pools that we can take from as we see fit, without "limited runs", benefits everyone. And yes, there's a commercial requirement to that as long as we live in a capitalist world, but that isn't a mutually exclusive concept (which is why iTunes, Netflix, Spotify and co all work so well).
Owning crap doesn't make your life richer. Experiencing crap does. And you don't need to own crap to experience crap.
i guess not, but if everything in life is a rental how does someone experience a digital download of something in 30 years? If you want to see a great example of this look at mobile stores, try and grab a game that got abandoned by a dev not long after launch. And if you can even download it again try and get a device to run it on.
That's kind of what I mean by ultimate disposable where everything is use once, chuck out never keep for the future. When everything is a once only experience how is it preserved!?
Even though I didn't say it clearly I was meaning the games themselves become disposable.
Obviously the "always online" caveat requires someone to host that content online. So yes, I agree there is a risk that the content could vanish in X years from today, even if the people hosting it today are doing a good job of making it available.
And of course, this is precisely the problem with services like WiiWare and a whole bunch of PSN "time bomb" issue where licenses expire. Physical media helps us get around that in that it is an "immutable time capsule" (right down to the fact that old games shipped with bugs, and never got patched, because they couldn't). But that whole process requires us to all be hoarders in order to circumvent copyright laws that were originally penned to help inventors, and ultimately abused to hurt paying consumers. And I can speak first hand for how inconvenient hoarding thousands of cartridges and discs is.
And my comment is that the only reason information of any kind can be disposed of is when nobody bothers to curate it, and the last person who remembers it dies. And that's precisely why I'm all for (a) public libraries and museums having more funding (and extending their responsibility to digital information as well), and (b) DRM-free online services like GoG existing en mass.
Another interesting article on the topic, this time from Ars Technica:
Some clever bikkie has put all of Windows 95 in an electron app. And as the author points out, very cool, very handy, and 100% illegal.
Anyone keeping track of what gates is saying about intangibles.
Some (biased, ranty) opinions from me:
1) Gates made his fortune from monopolistic abuse, not genuine merit. I don't ever subscribe to his economic theories. What he's sprouting above are already 10 years behind the curve.
2) "Games" and "software" are different. I'm sure that point will be counter-argued, but we can fathom that "CAD Software" and "Financial Software" are tools for different industries. Just because they co-exist on a computer doesn't make them the same thing. Computers are multi-functional devices, and just like pen and paper, or software, their audiences, manufacturers, creators and users differ (a CAD draftsperson is not an accountant). "Games" are art, and their value is intrinsically different to that of a business tool. Despite the medium of "a computer", games share more in common with music and movies, and not other software.
3) Software (not games) in and of itself has no value. I am a card-carrying open source evangelist. The value in business software is not the software. Indeed, the day you put software in place, it is out of date. It falls behind in usefulness, it needs patching. The value is service. RedHat currently have a net worth of US $1.3 Billion, and yet give away 100% of their software. Where's the value? The value is in their support model, and the services they provide. The software is pure commodity, and itself is a living, breathing, evolving thing that is a part of the service they provide.
4) Name for me the current tech giants. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook. Name for me the current media giants - not ironically, Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix - quite the crossover. What do they all share in common? An extreme reliance on software that doesn't cost a cent - Linux, BSD, ffmpeg, Xen, and much, much more. And yet they're raking in the trillions.
5) Modern Microsoft isn't Gates' Microsoft. Gates sold software like a product. He sold it like tables and chairs, licensed per instance, as if it was a limited commodity. Again, not ironically, Nintendo do the same. For Gates to lecture ad nauseam about supply demand is bordering hypocritical, given how he abused monopolistic practices to force demand. More to the point, his model began to fail miserably by the end of his rule, was made WORSE by his protege Ballmer, and has only been recently been turned around by Nadella - a man who has embraced open source to enormous levels (under his rule, pushing Microsoft to be the number one producer of open source on GitHub, eventually buying the service, and taking their Azure cloud service from a truly terrible product to a market force with the help of open source software).
Gates is not who you should listen to. Nadella, and the current market leaders like Netflix, Amazon, Google and others are. What they all share in common is their distribution model - services, not products.
Coming full circle, Nintendo is stuck in the past. They're stuck in a "limited product" mindset. And like Microsoft that started to decay under the old guard of Gates and Ballmer, the only way Nintendo can move forward is with new leadership. So far they're staying afloat thanks more to unique hardware design than anything (indie sales on their Switch product are enormous). But I wonder how long that can sustain them, and more importantly when they realise that their true value is actually the service that their Switch platform provides, and how monetising their enormous back-catalogue of games (art, like music and movies) through a distribution/service model rather than a product model is a real way forward for them.
End rant. Thank you for listening.
I haven't read the article as I generally don't read things authored by BG. He tends to expound on topics well outside his area of expertise. As such, please understand that my comment is related back to the earlier conversation about historical worth and the importance of preserving software as artifacts of the modern age.
I agree that the core values of games and functional software (business tools and the like) are generally different. Functional software is intended to help create an end result, whether that be technical designs, balanced accounts, or a recipe file. Games and a few other categories of software (reference works, for instance), are themselves the end result.
That said, I think it's important to remember that all software is important to preserve from a historical point of view as it will be important in creating a picture of our times for future generations. The nature of software it's intrinsic value in no way diminishes this. I wish more software publishers would consider this.
and to counter keeping the older tools alive means that if anyone wants to create content for an older machine they have the tools available....
Another reason I'm so radically pro-open source: software longevity. You want version 1.0 of something that's now on version 14.0? Easy, just pull that branch from git, and you've got it.