Open Letter to the Games Industry

An open letter to individuals and companies, who worked, or currently work in the games industry.

Dear All,

We are a group of dedicated individuals that believe that such an important part of computer gaming history could be lost forever unless it is prevented by an active preservation campaign. This part of history is, of course, the age of the floppy disk.

Coming mostly from the games industry ourselves we likely have a similar view on what is generally available today in the form of pirated material from the time. Indeed, most is nothing short of graffiti, often with credits replaced and errors thrown in. It is frustration at this state of affairs that prompted us to do something, anything, to prevent a day when these are the only copies left for historians and enthusiasts to study.

If you have written, produced or published a commercial floppy disk-based game, and are thinking about getting it preserved as it should be, then we offer an invaluable service. Even if you still have unprotected masters of your game, how can you guarantee errors have not developed over the last ten years or so? Other than never using it, can you tell if somehow the data has been modified since it was originally written? We can do both these things, as well as ensure your game is no longer bound to its media prison - it does not matter what kind of copy protection or disk format it may use.

As you may have realised, there is no technology around that can completely and generically describe and store any floppy disk. There may be similar elements in government sectors that use extremely expensive equipment like that used in Magnetic Force Microscopy, but the description software is likely to be only for PC based disk formats. Our technology can be used for floppy media of any platform and type and is available for use right now.

People such as yourselves are likely aware of the problems of preserving these titles, and still find that their effort remains unsupported by the industry, especially since as far as most are concerned, their aim is technically impossible. Together we can help focus these efforts, even form a lobby group proving the technology does exist (so long as it is not marked as others achievement in any context) and that it is a very effective tool.

An industry accepted digital library of the evolution of computer gaming is long overdue. Too long has this important issue been ignored due to the technical challenges imposed to even get started. Likely discussions in various circles raised the same issues, but action was never taken. It is better that we do what needs to be done technically and think about the political issues later, rather that than finally agreeing on a course of action after so many games have been lost.

Now the implementation is out of the way this is no longer an issue that needs to be addressed, thanks to several years of intensive research that we dedicated ourselves to do. We should now go on from here to work on solutions for the more social aspects of the problem, specifically: education, collaboration and copyrights.

In respect to the last, it is important to note, that preservation does not imply making intellectual property public or free. It does mean that in the future, companies and individual authors will at least have a choice about how they can exploit their games, rather than any choice being taken away by the natural degradation of the media. This can of course be for financial reasons, or purely for historical documentation.

Please feel free to contact us in regard to any specific queries. You may also like to browse our extensive knowledge base to learn more about what we do.

We hope you can join us in our pursuit. With enough people, we can together accomplish some wonderful things.

Yours sincerely,

István Fábián
The Software Preservation Society