Defunct software artefacts ignored by their creators – with availability, support and copyright often left ignored – has given rise to a culture of Abandonware. Amateur enthusiasts, unofficially and usually with fuzzy legal positions, make older software available through emulation or download.
Just a few days ago, the Internet Archive launched a public collection of almost 2400 MS-DOS games, no longer available from their publishers. Abandonware’s origins are actually rooted in videogames and their cultural significance, so it’s great to see thousands of titles being made available to download and play online.
It’s not clear whether this has been done with the consent of creators; thought many titles are from the 90s and likely close to the end of copyright lifetimes. There’s certain cultural value, but little commercial value to creators, so hopefully this will become a growing collection free of lawyerly scrutiny.
Interestingly, each title is playable via emulation directly within a browser; useful as DOS-based personal computers are no longer so common. It’s unsurprising that the relatively open PC platform is the basis for this collection.
I cannot imagine the likes of Sony, Nintendo or Sega making their cultural heritage freely available for posterity… indeed Sony just announced they’ll be charging $20/month to access older games. Douchebags don’t do open 😉
Explore the collection at… archive.org/details/softwarelibrary_msdos_games/v2