When one thinks of games preservation, the image of protecting games that belong to large series like Battlefield doesn’t immediately come to mind. These games are blockbuster best-sellers, right? Surely someone will be able to nab a copy for a museum.
But as has been discussed ad nauseum, preserving games doesn’t just mean preserving physical copies of them, it means preserving the online architecture that powers some of their gameplay.
Take Battlefield 2142 for instance; EA and DICE’s push into the sci-fi shooter genre was fully playable right up until GameSpy shut down its server hosting business in 2014. Thanks to some fans behind the Battlefield 2142 Revive project however, you can play it once again. Over the last couple of weeks, the homebrewed servers for 2142 have attracted a little over 1,000 concurrent players at a time, showing some revived interest for the 2006 online shooter.
So if you’re a developer interested in how DICE flirted with the sci-fi online shooter genre (and you should be, it’s a weird Battlefield game that experiments with drop pods, pilotable mechs, and destroyable objectives inside flying capital ships) you now have the chance to check it out. But the question remains, will you have the ability to play it for yourself this time next year?
You see, EA hasn’t made any public comment on the servers’ status as of yet. And that means it still might shut down the server in compliance with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Frustratingly, it’s an action that would be supported by organizations like the ESA, who petitioned against a request that online games be exempt from the DMCA back in 2015.
While EA would obviously be well within its legal rights to protect its copyright (it’s the kind of dilemma Blizzard faced with the fan-run legacy World of Warcraft server Nostralius), doing so would abandon a unique part of its history it would benefit to try and preserve.