Reviews - Updated on April 15, 2022

I think you remember the Digital Homicide scandal: the company that made the most trashy games on Steam wanted to sue the authors of bad reviews, and as a result received a “ban” from the service itself and closed. Now no one can buy the amazing ET: The Extra-Large Testicle and Not in My Crapper on Gabe Newell’s service, and the creators of incredible “masterpieces” need to look for a new distribution channel. But what if there were real things in place of Paranormal Psychosis or Gnarltoof’s Revenge?

Imagine: as a result of some kind of problem, no one will ever be able to try Inside again – one of the most successful indie platformers in recent times. Or suddenly you wake up with the desire to buy Hotline Miami, which you missed a couple of years ago, and you can’t even find it in the PS Store anymore. This does not happen and can not be? It happens, there is and will be. Even very good projects go into digital non-existence from time to time. Let’s try to understand the problem, find out the main reasons for the disappearance of games and remember those who are no longer with us.

Wyatt Derp is one of Digital Homicide’s lost masterpieces.

Reason for missing: rights issues

Most often, releases disappear from the radar, where some kind of license was used in one way or another, the rights to which have expired.

Let’s take OutRun Arcade as an example: it is from a fairly well-known series, with good ratings, and even multi-platform – released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. But when the license of Ferrari, whose cars were featured in the racing simulator, expired, the project instantly disappeared from Sony services and Microsoft. On the one hand, there are not so many fans of OutRun, and other versions are not very different in essence. On the other hand, it’s still annoying.

Much worse if the game is at least somewhat unique. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans are clearly regretting that they can no longer download TMNT: Turtles in Time Re-Shelled. This remake of the arcade beat ’em up was published by Ubisoft on the seventh generation consoles and turned out to be very similar to the best parts of the series, those that experienced gamers played on the “dandy”. But he is no more, and the chances of resurrection are minimal.

Another misfortune happened to a more modern project: in early September 2016, SEGA, due to difficulties with the Disney license, withdrew the remake of Castle of Illusion from sale. The Mickey Mouse platformer even prompted one game designer to write an angry article on the industry website Gamasutra and scold the Western press for not covering the event. It’s funny that just a few days before the removal, the game was made compatible with the Xbox One.

But the saddest case of an expired license is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game. An arcade action movie in retro style is already a reason to become interested. And if you add an excellent combat system and the ability to fight four, it turns out quite a hit. But Ubisoft lost the publishing rights (they belong to Universal) at the end of 2015, and this work of art cannot be purchased for a whole year. However, this summer, the creator of the original comic, Bryan Lee O’Malley, stated that his main goal in life is to return the game to fans. So let’s believe.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game was also sold as download codes. Theoretically, they can still be found today. Of course, not in the CIS.

In the case of an expired license, everything is simple. Any digital product under a license that is not published by a division of the copyright holder is at risk. And neither sales nor brand popularity can affect the outcome. But the value of these crafts is usually not so great. It is more interesting when a unique project that is not based on other media is closed. So, a couple of years ago, Go! disappeared from the Nintendo online store. Go! Kokopolo, which was recognized as the best DSi game of 2011. It turned out that the publisher was forced to create a separate legal entity in the UK to serve sales through the eShop service. When there were too few downloads, the shell company became unprofitable. As a result, the ersatz firm closed, and with it the opportunity to download this variation on the Pac-Man theme disappeared.

But a textbook example of a complex copyright system is The Operative: No One Lives Forever. Legal science does not know who owns the rights to the Kate Archer game. A potential publisher talked to Activision, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. a couple of years ago, but couldn’t figure out which side the ball was on. So the cult game runs the risk of never being re-released. Fortunately, at one time NOLF was lucky to go retail, and it will not completely disappear from the radar. But imagine if the same confusion happened to a digital-only release…

Reason for loss: Service closure

The nightmare of all Steam collectors is to find that the service has suddenly closed. Does the story sound crazy to you? But at least two digital services went under.

The first of these is N-Gage, a Nokia platform that should not be confused with the two original N-Gage console smartphones. The service was launched in 2008 and allowed downloading games for the most powerful Symbian smartphones at that time. Among the projects were releases of Metal Gear, Resident Evil, FIFA.

Gone, for example, are the futuristic racing System Rush: Evolution, the fun adventure game Dirk Dagger and the Fallen Idol, and the meditative fishing Hooked On: Creatures of the Deep. True, those who are ready to look for pirated “dumps” on the Web and have kept their old N95 still have a chance to try them, but this is not a completely legal method.

Missing: Video games that are no more

The second version of N-Gage lived less than two years.

Another online service that died forever was PS Mobile, which closed in 2015. It was an interesting idea to give indie developers a stripped-down Unity engine to make games for PS Vita and some models of Android smartphones, and set a low entry threshold (only $ 99 per year). Studios of one person could also release their release. But even medium-sized indie companies have chosen to create projects for the portable console using standard methods, and the few that have developed “mobile” versions have only made half a dozen exclusive hits.

First of all, it is worth remembering Tokyo Jungle Mobile, a turn-based version of the post-apocalypse about animals. Other highlights were the Console Saga platformer, where you controlled a “gameboy”, and the wildest reindeer driving and shooting simulator Oh Deer! Of course, none of the trinity can be called a hit for the ages, and it will no longer be possible to find images on the Web.

Well, the fate of PlayStation Mobile and N-Gage does not yet threaten any of the major console or PC services. But if you have an unpopular platform, in particular a mobile or some kind of microconsole like Ouya, you can be sure that sooner or later you will become the owner of a real, irreproducible rarity.

Reason for missing: Closing or canceling the game

There are plenty of situations when an unsuccessful shareware game is closed. In 2015, Electronic Arts dumped four projects at once, including Need for Speed ​​World, Battlefield Heroes and FIFA World. This fall and early December, Ubisoft finished off The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot, Tom Clancy’s EndWar Online, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Phantoms.

The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot is one of the cases where the online game was closed.

In May, Nosgoth was closed – an online action game in the Legacy of Kain universe that never left Steam Early Access. November marked the end of Dead Star, the space shooter for PS4 and PC that was recently given away for free on PS Plus.

But it is better to stop and understand: closings are logical. The cost of maintaining a half-dead online world is usually more than the revenue generated (if any). Close secondary, uninteresting games – with rare exceptions in the form of “strong mid-range”. But if you think about it, the same fate someday awaits any, even the most popular, universe. And historians of the future will be able to study World of Warcraft only with the help of YouTube videos.

There are still unofficial servers. But only really popular games will have them, and fans with hardware don’t last forever. Someday the last fan of Phantasy Star Online will lose interest in “raids” and “pumping”, the last Dreamcast broadband Internet adapter will break, and then one of the first popular MMORPGs will sink into oblivion.

Another variation of the same story – the game did not have time to come out, and the demo was removed from access. The scariest example happened with PT, an interactive teaser for the canceled Silent Hills by Guillermo del Toro and Hideo Kojima: it can no longer be downloaded, not even re-downloaded. The demo has been installed over a million times, so it’s not exactly rare. But until now, the Web is full of offers to buy a console with PT installed for 70-120 thousand rubles, that is, three to five times more expensive than a regular PlayStation 4 costs.

Probably the most expensive demo ever. In all senses.

A look into the future

These are the main reasons why we are losing video games. Sometimes, of course, something is removed, because it is immediately published as a temporary release, but this is an exception that is known in advance. So at one time they did with the anniversary version of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords for 3DS.

You may ask: why was it worth the time, effort and space on our site to save these insignificant pieces of code at all? Perhaps because a person becomes a person at the expense of culture, and video games have long been part of it. About the same way humanity saves books in libraries.

Someday the problem of our digital cultural heritage will reach Russia globally, and it will be great if the schoolchildren of the future have the opportunity to try the classics.

But in general, as with any young art form, no one yet knows what will be of value to gamers and historians half a century later. So perhaps a PS4 with PT or a PS3 with Scott Pilgrim pulled out of the closet will bring prosperity to your grandchildren. If they find the right collector.

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