Is The PC Key To Preserving Our Console Gaming History?

In today's Speak-Up on Kotaku, commenter Pixiebutt salutes Sega for making its classic console titles available on Steam, and dreams of a day when other present and former gaming hardware companies follow suit.

So I woke up this morning and took a look at the front page of Steam, and to my surprise I saw Sega Dreamcast titles on the new releases bar. Dreamcast titles on the PC. It was something unexpected, but it was something I completely appreciate.

If you haven't noticed up to now, SEGA has been making their back catalog of selective Genesis titles available on Steam since June of last year. Altered Beast, Ecco, Sonic, Golden Axe, Gunstar Heroes, and Streets of Rage to name a few. Certainly Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have been doing a bit of the same on their online console marketplaces, primarily I'd think because they have consoles still active on the market. However, what SEGA is doing with their Steam releases is more important for two reasons.

The first is history preservation. It's no secret that video games are terrible at making their classics from the 80's and 90's available to new generations of buyers, in comparison to the other media industries. Imagine if you couldn't pick up Johnny Cash's first American Recordings album, or watch Dr. Strangelove on DVD. We're getting better at this, but there are still big gaps in the preservation of our gaming history, and not just the PC. The 3DO, Neo-Geo, and Atari consoles have games without current platforms to vouch for them these days.

Which brings me to the second reason: Cross-platform accessibility. SEGA could have easily put their back catalog on the Wii's online marketplace, since SEGA and Nintendo are more often a joint venture these days. But the fact I don't need one singular platform to enjoy gaming history is a massive great step in the right direction. ROM emulators have been providing this service for less-than-legal offerings, but with SEGA putting in the effort to make their catalog available and playable on another platform far removed from their "comfort zone" for a fair price, I don't feel the need to dance around piracy to play an old game I'm interested in.

It's a good feeling I'm having, that maybe in the next 20 years, I'll be able to sit down with my child(ren) and take him/her through the unabridged gaming odyssey that made up my experience growing up, without having to pick and choose what to show them based on what piece of hardware I prefer.

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