On the day (January 30th, 2019) of the Wii Shop Channel’s closure, a little angry chirp was made out of the corner of the Twitterverse which grew into a full blown rage against the corporate machine.
Frank Cifaldi, mostly known as the founder and director of the Video Game History Foundation and also a developer on the acclaimed and historically important SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, started the day out knowing fully well that at the end of the rant, he would be posting this picture.
A few of you may not be familiar with the man but suffice it to say that he is very passionate about video game preservation - Enough that he’s spearheaded three different collections and founded an organization dedicated to video game preservation (as outlined above). That being said, he’s gone on record as being thankful for pirates due to his work being practically impossible were it not for their efforts.
Without further ado, the tweet that started it all.
It’d be easy to dismiss this as just the ramblings of a man mad that Nintendo closed an online store for a console two generations behind yet but I won’t. Not because the message is important (it is) but because he’s actually correct to be mad about that.
Not every single game on the Wii Shop Channel will be preserved - a lot of it has the potential to be lost due to publishers/developers not necessarily archiving things correctly and games themselves not being available for purchase anywhere else. There’s a ton of examples even today - Part of Blizzard’s problems with starting up a WoW Classic were due to not archiving their own things properly (the other part is refusing to believe anyone would want that service but that’s neither here nor there). Panzer Dragoon 1 and 2's remakes exist solely because they do not have the source code for the originals and it’s mostly due to that that we haven’t seen any re-releases of the games.
Even the worst possible games require preservation (if only to learn what not to do in a video game) and thanks to things like Mystery Tournaments, Kusogrande, the Big Bad Gameathon raising interest in those games, those have less of a chance to be preserved. The most problematic are those games that, well, fell under the radar either from crowd apathy or bad timing in release, or small numbers. Something infamous for being trash, such as Shaq-Fu, is already preserved. Something like a Taiwanese RPG on DOS? Not so much.
I don’t necessarily want to defend piracy, but unfortunately, the way preservation is handled by the people who own these IPs makes piracy necessary.