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Abandonware In A Nutshell: Why Nobody Wins


Nobody wins in the conflict between gamers who want to enjoy out-of-print titles and the game companies who refuse to make them available. Abandonware websites are blatantly illegal, but morally applauded. The IDSA is hated amongst the classic gaming community, but they're just doing their job as an organization, and their duty as representatives. And the game companies don't get any bonus points for dropping entire product lines from their internal systems because "the market has moved on" (an actual quote from a Microprose customer service representative in 1997).

I wish I had some easy answer for how to legally obtain and distribute discontinued games for free, but I don't. While it's possible that game companies may finally have some pity for the consumers that support them and release some of their oldest games as marketing for their latest efforts (as more enligtened companies like Interplay, Activision and Sierra have already done), I'm not holding my breath for anything short of a decade. Until then, I'm making as many backups of my existing games as I can before the disks deteriorate!

For more information on both sides, visit either the IDSA's website, or enter "Abandonware" into any search engine.

Jim Leonard is the co-founder of MobyGames, an ambitious historical project to document, rate, and catalog all PC games ever released.

The Fine Print: Copyright 2000 Jim Leonard and MobyGames. The use of this article in print, online, or any other media or medium is prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

Disclaimer: Jim Leonard is not a lawyer. The information contained in this editorial feature is not intended as legal advice, in any sense of the word. Hell, it may even be inaccurate. If you decide to break the law, you do so at your own risk.

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