Further reminders that digital media sucks

There are many arguments in favour of going all-in on digital media, with the primary one most people bring up being that it simply saves physical space. An Internet-connected gaming device takes up very little room and has access to a potentially infinite number of games — particularly if you subscribe to a service like Game Pass or PlayStation Plus — and thus it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s the only way forward, and that it is, as particularly insufferable people on social media always like to argue, “consumer-friendly”.

But this week we’ve had a couple of reminders of the biggest downside of digital media: the fact that it can — and will — be taken away from you at a moment’s notice, for a variety of reasons. The most common of these is licensing restrictions, but other explanations might include the inability to stay on top of running costs for online games, the transferring of rights to a game to another publisher, or, in some cases, an alternative — but not identical — version of a game becoming available elsewhere.

Friday the 13th: the latest piece of digital media to "expire"
Friday the 13th (PC)

Probably the highest-profile example of digital media “expiring” this week in gaming comes in the form of the Friday the 13th game from 2017, developed by IllFonic and published by Gun Media. This was already a somewhat troubled game due to disagreements with series co-creator Victor Miller leading to official game servers shutting down in November of 2020, but the game still allowed peer-to-peer matchmaking. But now it seems that the game will be delisted from digital storefronts in December of 2023 due to, you guessed it, the license expiring.

According to Gun Media, the game will continue to function for “at least” another year, up until December 31, 2024, which is something, but no new players will be able to pick the game up either digitally or physically after December 31, 2023. The game does feature a bot-based single-player mode which will presumably remain playable — though Gun Media hasn’t confirmed this one way or the other — but the core asymmetrical multiplayer action of the game, where one player takes command of the iconic Jason Vorhees while the others control camp counselors, will likely cease to exist.

That’s not all the bad news for this week, though, because NIS America has also confirmed that a number of its games will be delisted from various digital media platforms over the course of the coming months.

Demon Gaze will no longer be available as digital media from June 11, 2023.
Demon Gaze (Vita)

Demon Gaze for PlayStation Vita will be departing the PSN store on June 11, 2023. God Wars: Future Past will no longer be available for PS4 and Vita from June 15, 2023. The Lost Child for PS4, Vita and Switch is being delisted on June 18, 2023. God Wars: The Complete Legend for Nintendo Switch will depart on August 30, 2023. NAtURAL DOCtRINE for PS3, PS4 and Vita will leave the PSN store on September 29, 2023. And Demon Gaze II for PS4 and Vita will no longer be with us from November 13, 2023.

In NIS America’s case, all of these games are also available physically and do not rely on online features — though some, like Demon Gaze, make use of Internet connectivity for certain gimmicks such as leaving messages for other players — and thus will hopefully still be available to purchase from various retailers while they are still in stock. In some instances, the rights for the games have clearly transferred to other publishers; Demon Gaze, for example, has recently been rereleased as Demon Gaze Extra for Nintendo Switch via Clouded Leopard Entertainment, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Demon Gaze II pop up via them at some point.

All of the games departing NIS America’s catalogue appear to be Kadokawa Games titles, suggesting that the companies have, for one reason or another, ended their partnership with one another. Kadokawa hasn’t been tied exclusively to NISA for a while, however; titles such as Root Letter and Root Film came out via PQube, for example, so fans of their work shouldn’t be concerned. We’ll more than likely see their stuff continue to come west via other means.

The Lost Child, another piece of soon-to-be-delisted digital media
The Lost Child (PS4)

It does, however, suck that during the transitional period while the rights to these games are clearly in question, that no console players will be able to buy them as digital media. (Interestingly, in a few cases, they have digital PC releases that appear to be unaffected by this situation.) Thankfully, those who have already bought the games will still be able to play them — and the way most digital storefronts work means that existing players should still be able to download them even if they’ve been delisted for sale — but those who learn about these titles late and are disinclined to purchase physical will be out of luck.

These instances are just further reminders that companies going all-in on digital media are very much Not Concerned about the preservation of their titles in the long term, because once these titles are delisted the only way to access them will be through physical copies (of which there are a limited number, and which you can bet the price will go through the roof) or through, shall we say, less than legitimate means.

We’re long overdue figuring out a solution for this problem. There are a lot of games from the last three console generations that are going to be lost completely if something drastic isn’t done. And, given how comprehensively games from the prior six generations of gaming have been preserved and documented at this point, that would be a real shame. It would be terrible to look back on the history of the medium in 50 years and there just be a big, black hole in the middle of it all because there were no contingency plans in place for “expiring” digital content.

In the meantime, remember: if you want to hold on to your games as treasured possessions, stick to single player-centric titles and buy physical. Say no to digital media!

Join The Discussion

Rice Digital Discord
Rice Digital Twitter
Rice Digital Facebook

Or write us a letter for the Rice Digital Friday Letters Page by clicking here!

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on them. This is at no additional cost to you and helps support Rice Digital!

Pete Davison
Spread the love!

Related post

This will close in 0 seconds