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Thursday, February 28, 2002
GameSpot Examines Abandonware
6:00 AM | Sean Smith | Comment on this story

In a a ten-page article by Marc Saltzman, GameSpot examines in some depth the response of guerilla "preservationists" to "abandonware," and some reactions to their activities from publishers, developers, and gamers.

Abandonware is a name often given to any piece of software that is no longer sold or supported by its publisher. Many of the classic computer games of the past 15 to 20 years fall in this category, and it is these titles that make up the bulk of the software distributed on abandonware sites.

Here's a brief excerpt from the article:

Most seasoned computer gamers will likely grin ear to ear when asked to recall their most memorable moments in PC gaming history, be it taking over the world in Civilization, going back in time in Day of the Tentacle, or rescuing the princess in Prince of Persia. But you can't find these "classic" computer games from the late '80s and early '90s, on store shelves — not even in those value-priced compilation packages.

You won't find this classic in stores. So, are you out of luck if you want to take Ultima IV for another spin? And how exactly do you plan on loading Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards from that floppy disk you snagged at a garage sale? Even though they were "abandoned" by their respective publishers years ago, thousands of computer games from yesteryear are still alive today — in cyberspace and for free.

If you know where to look, that is.

Welcome to the controversial topic known as "abandonware."

To archivists and distributors of abandonware, what they do is a service, performing for free the preservation of gaming history without which many of these works might be lost for ever due to the neglect of publishers.

To most publishers, however, the activities of these so-called preservationists are nothing more than a violation of the publisher's paramount legal right to control its intellectual property in whatever manner it sees fit — to do, or fail to do, whatever it likes with it.

Follow the link below for the full article.

[Richard Porcher contributed to this story.]

GameSpot: Flashbacks for Free

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