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Abandonware In A Nutshell: Why Nobody Wins

The History of the War

We'll begin examining this mess by starting with some brief history.

The IBM PC was released in 1982, along with a handful of gaming titles produced by developers under contract by IBM. Sierra was one of those developers, and in 1984 developed King's Quest, widely recognized as one of the groundbreaking titles that showed the world the IBM PC could be a gaming platform as well as a business machine. (Other PC games had been marketed on the PC at that time, but these were mostly conversions of successful games originating on other platforms.) Once the Tandy 1000 series popularized the idea that extra graphics and sound enhanced gameplay, the PC gaming industry solidified. Today, 15 years later, the PC gaming industry is worth over 7 billion dollars.

Enter Leonard's Law of Pop Culture. LLOPC states that whatever was popular 15 years ago will be popular in present day as the teenagers of yesteryear move into a profitable demographic and get nostalgic. "Retro" is "in", and it applies to all aspects of popular culture -- including computer games. New emulators for computer platforms and gaming consoles crop up every month so that enthusiasts can relive "the good old days", since the original machines are long gone. Gamers pull out their older titles and give them one more run. Some find that their older titles are either non-functional or are no longer available from any commercial outlet, so they turn to non-commercial markets to obtain them. The IDSA, representing entertainment software companies, try to shut down the non-commercial outlets. The enthusiasts become frustrated that they cannot obtain replacements of software they own or have owned, so more non-commercial outlets crop up; the cycle continues.

Consumers not dealing directly with the IDSA are confused as to why the IDSA is doing this. A common misconception is that since the hardware required to play older PC games is still on the market, the IDSA must believe that all software ever released for the PC must still be as useful today as it was when it was originally released over a decade ago. This is obviously wrong, since thousands of new games and applications -- not old ones -- are purchased by consumers every day. If older entertainment software titles were merely stuck on today's software shelves with their original marketing campaign and hardware requirements, they simply would not sell.

If that's the case, why does the IDSA continue to shut sites down? Their attitude seems ignorant of the facts, and it is this ignorance that infuriates Abandonware website proponents, which make them want to put up even more games for free download just to spite the IDSA.

As with any argument, there are two sides to the story.

Continued: The IDSA's Position

Table of Contents: Abandonware In A Nutshell: Why Nobody Wins