Taking down ROMs of out of print games

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To paraphrase what Gabe Newell said, if you don't want people pirating your games, then make them available on modern hardware.

A ROM (read-only memory) image, or ROM file, is a computer file which contains a copy of the data from a read-only memory chip, often from a video game cartridge, or from an arcade game's main board. The term is frequently used in the context of emulation, whereby older games or firmware are copied to ROM files on modern computers and can, using a piece of software known as an emulator, be run on a different device than which they were designed for.

Distributing ROMs of games that are no longer being distributed can allow people who missed out on getting these games when they were still on the market another chance to play them. Unfortunately, some companies, such as Nintendo, are notorious for sending cease and desist orders to sites distributing ROMs of their out-of-print games.

Why This Practice Sucks

  1. Companies that do this claim that this hurts their business, but these are games that they don't distribute anymore, so even if people aren't pirating these games, the company still isn't making money off of it anyway. The whole reason why piracy is a crime in the first place is because companies don't make money off the pirated games. The only way to continue making money off of it is to continue distributing the game on newer hardware.
  2. To add to the previous point, these companies tend to refuse to redistribute many games they take down ROMs of.
    • There are also cases where a game does get redistributed, but suffers from poor porting, making piracy of the original versions a better experience. For example, the Definitive Edition of the GTA Trilogy was infamous for introducing new bugs and many issues along being based off the horrible mobile port (particularly San Andreas) that weren't in the original versions of the games, which were delisted from all digital storefronts in favor of this collection.
  3. ROMs of old games can preserve them, so the distributors of the game should be more thankful for the people who compile them. Physical media that holds old games is bound to eventually deteriorate depending on what format of disc, cartridge or card it uses.
    • Video games, whether they be good or bad, need to be recognized as a form of art and deserve proper preservation, just like movies, television shows, music, and literature, which have been preserved way better in comparison to video games.
  4. ROMs can allow people who never got the chance to buy the games when they were available, a chance to play them, including people born in a newer generation.
  5. Finding a legitimate copy of an old game is difficult, as some old games can cost more than they are actually worth on sites such as eBay. The game can especially be expensive depending on how rare it is, and buying a legitimate copy from eBay doesn't benefit the original distributor in any way, only the site and the seller.
    • In some cases, the game might not even be in good condition. GameStop is known for not testing the condition of the used games they sell, resulting in some customers ending up paying for damaged games.
  6. If the game was only sold through a digital storefront that has been shut down, then downloading from a ROM site is pretty much the only way you can play the game if you don't already have it downloaded.
  7. In some cases, some people may become unable to play their legitimate copies anymore, because there's a chance that the copy can either get lost or damaged. There's also a chance of the same thing happening with the console that the game is on.
  8. This is also a problem with games that are unavailable in certain countries and is especially a problem if that game is on a region locked console. For example, Nintendo has had a lack of localization in languages more popular than Dutch, such as Polish, Turkish, Hebrew, Arabic, Portuguese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Tagalog, Indonesian, and sometimes Russian.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. If a site is charging money for ROMs, such as RomUniverse, then the company that owns the games is morally in the right to have it shut down.
  2. Unofficial emulators themselves are not considered illegal, so those are at least safe from being taken down.

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