So while I was surfing on Kotaku, I came across a report that Alan Wake will be taken off all digital stores on May 15th, this Monday. This is due to a music licensing contract expiring on that day. Obviously you’ll still be able to find physical copies of the game, but to download the game digitally, it will be no longer possible after that date.
This raises a few issues in my mind about digital content in the future. Take into account that this is a major game, folks. You may not have played Alan Wake, I didn’t either, but this was a major release. Maybe not AAA compared to bigger franchises, but this wasn’t some indie title that flew in under the radar, this had a load of marketing behind it when it was near release. This happened to a game of this caliber. What are the chances this happens to something bigger? Can you imagine Grand Theft Auto V going off digital stores because of this? Of course not, Rockstar’s still making millions a month off the game, but let’s say a game of that notoriety had to be taken off digital stores because of a licensing agreement ending. That would be a huge loss!
Then there’s the smaller indie titles, the ones that don’t see a physical copy. Alan Wake will forever live on due to having discs, but a ton of indie titles would not if they fell into this situation. Can you imagine some of those indie gems no longer being existent, unless of course you managed to snag a copy? I mean, look at people who have a copy of P.T. on their devices, how big a deal was that? Imagine a game like say…Owlboy having to shut down and be taken off digital stores. You can’t get it without piracy, plain and simple.
So in the end, I think the games industry needs to look at a story like this and start to really take a second look at how they’re doing things. I don’t know if every game has to be a lifetime-long affair, but it sure would be nice if a second generation at least can grow up to an age old enough to want to look for games like this and be able to play them. Since we are in a digital age now, that’s possible, so we need to figure out how to keep it available without resorting to piracy. Because sure, everyone plays SNES games on their PC emulators nowadays, but man it would be nice if having the physical copies or at the very least digital copies of the games were more affordable or even available in some cases.
The digital age of gaming is still relatively young, we’ve got time to figure it out.