Bushnell a little “nervous about” always-online emphasis

Saturday, 8 June 2013 20:47 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Industry legend Nolan Bushnell has said he’s a bit worried over an always-online future, especially should games stored to the cloud be lost forever if a company decides to shut a server down.

Speaking with GI International, Bushnell said he’s worried that online-only will eventually impact game preservation efforts.

“I’m actually nervous about that a little bit,” he said. “I played games 30 years ago that I would like to be playing right now. Particularly since I have some quirky tastes and some of the stuff I really thought was important, not many other people did. So it sort of fell into the trash heap of society.

“With the coin-op game business, I wanted to keep one of every game we ever had, but the number of times various people said, ‘Gee, why don’t we get rid of these old things…’”

Bushnell believes some preservation efforts are underway, but that many game companies aren’t working hard enough to preserve those works.

He said he observed the same sort of attitude decades ago when he was head at Atari.


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  1. rockman29

    The rest of us are pretty worried too. Let’s just hope some keep their senses for the sake of our gaming hobby :)

    #1 2 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    The only way they will keep their senses is if people vote with their wallet.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. ps3fanboy

    Bushnell have good reason to be worried because always online like the xbone is, will kill of any games even if its single player. when microsoft decide they don’t want to support it anymore. and patches that can fix games will also be going with it… so the microsoft xbone is the death knell to gaming world wide. its time people seriously start voting with their wallet and don’t buy the xbone at all. then microsoft will be forced to remove the forced online function, drm and always on kinect… be smart people don’t buy the xbone.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. DSB

    It’s gonna be pretty interesting to see once the first digital service goes belly up. People are already losing their purchases just to switch consoles, so that line has been crossed.

    In terms of preserving games for posterity, I get that, but shit getting replaced and forgotten is nothing new.

    You don’t buy a newspaper subscription expecting to keep every issue for infinity and you don’t buy a fucking coffee table from Ikea expecting to hand it over to your grandkids.

    Well, most don’t anyway. Although I have kicked myself for throwing so many classic games away over the years. I still have my old Little Big Adventure 2 box, and I’m keeping it 4evurz!

    #4 2 years ago

    Not fussed. I’m not a hoarder.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Cobra951

    “It’s gonna be pretty interesting to see once the first digital service goes belly up. People are already losing their purchases just to switch consoles, so that line has been crossed.”

    @5: That’s really not true, though. These digital purchases are not floating in the ether (not yet anyway). They are stored on the buyers’ memory devices, and can be backed up indefinitely. The hardware that plays them must be preserved or emulated as well, but that’s nothing new.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. laughing-gravy

    Me too Nolan, me too.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. DSB

    @7 That really only makes sense going from PS3 to PS4 because the architechture is different.

    Porting from 360 to One should be a non-issue.

    I’m pretty sure Microsoft will want to rub their cloud-dick all over absolutely everything on that platform, but that’s still a 100% artificial barrier.

    #8 2 years ago
  9. lookingglass

    It’s great how the market is already fully embracing always online tech. People want everything online, all the time. Sure there are some old people or poor people who don’t want it to happen and don’t buy into it, but they are the minority. The market and the tech will trek on, becoming ever more connected until the poor can afford it, like all tech, and until the old are pushed out of market completely or they adapt.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. The_Red

    @Ireland Michael
    Sadly, if there is one constant in this world, it’s that people usually pay the most for the worst.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. JB

    @10 what markets are you talking about?

    Who says people want everything online all the time?

    If you care about your privacy rights and consumer rights that makes you old or poor?

    Is this your opinion or do you have some sources to back it up?

    #11 2 years ago
  12. DarkElfa

    @6, right there Gig, that’s the kind of attitude I’m talking about. Like if Microsoft said every time you turned the X-Box on a baby would die, you say “Meh, we have too many babies as it is.”

    Sure I just strawmanned there a bit, but the point remains solid. Now you tell me again that the labeling of you as a fanboy is a result of others being fans of something else.

    You don’t have to be on the left to see a guy on the right, you can see the right from the center as well.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. laughing-gravy

    I don’t mind stuff that is downloaded to the hard drive because I can hang on to that if I keep my old console. But stuff stored in the cloud, ouch.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. Ireland Michael

    @13 I wish I could edit usernames. I would change his to something like xboxfanboy174dreamhunk.

    #14 2 years ago
  15. DarkElfa

    A fan can admit when the company he buys from is making mistakes, a fanboy refutes them as mistakes entirely.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. salarta

    This is exactly the thing I’ve been concerned with for a while now. Everything is being moved to digital, hosted on servers, but what if the servers go down or the company simply decides not to re-release a game? Worse, what if a game is out, only for a company to later decide to completely withdraw it from the public sphere even after having sold it?

    This is why I don’t like the XBox One’s idiotic obsession with restrictions on what you can do with the physical disc. That’s basically holding the content hostage to various fees, and it’s obviously with no vision whatsoever for the future.

    We had a strong wake-up call about this just earlier this week. Nintendo decided to cut down on online services for the Wii later this month, and while the store is one that will stay up, many other services will go down. How long until the store on the Wii goes down too, resulting in me not being able to buy anything that was on that store and won’t be available on other stores?

    Some people also don’t seem to understand the full weight of the issue. Don’t look at subscription services that merely license you to tune into broadcasts or read the latest events happening in the world. Look at things like the film industry, where films that weren’t considered highly important (and even a LOT that were) are no longer available simply because people back then treated films like they were disposal and it didn’t matter if people in the future ever got a chance to view them.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. viralshag

    @16, so even though he might say the same thing if the PS4 implements similar systems, not having a problem with that would also make him a fanboy of Sony?

    I don’t see how not disliking these things makes someone a fanboy to be honest…

    #17 2 years ago
  18. orakaa

    @18 : No. It’s the fact that he keeps coming on EVERY FRIGGIN article regarding Xbox One to say “I don’t have a problem with that so it should not be a problem for anyone” and keep criticizing people that are not happy with those restricting measures. Yes, he’s a F*CKING fanboy.

    If Sony does the same thing, we’ll complain just the same (and yes there ARE Sony fanboys as well, but the MAJORITY of people who complain are not part of them).
    Many gamers are not happy with those kind of measures, and they voice their opinion. You’re not happy with it? Then go ahead, buy an Xbox One.

    #18 2 years ago

    No. It’s the fact that he keeps coming on EVERY FRIGGIN article regarding Xbox One

    LOL! How very revealing. This is a complete lie.

    Here’s a question for you and DarkElfa. How many of the following X1 related articles do I appear in?

    Happy hunting!

    #19 2 years ago


    Now you tell me again that the labeling of you as a fanboy is a result of others being fans of something else.

    1. This article has nothing to do with MS, the 360 or the X1 in particular. This article is about cloud gaming in general, and covers every company that deals in that, including Sony, Valve, Apple, Onlive and many others.

    The fact that you immediate linked my comment with a defence of Microsoft is infinitely more revealing about you than it is about me.

    2. I was specifically commenting on hoarding.

    I buy new, and I discard. I like digital stuff, and Bushnell was clearly talking about keeping games for a long time, aka hoarding.

    You seem obsessed with trying to convince me to believe that I’m a fanboy, but you’re seeing fanboy where no fanboy exists.

    If I talk up or “defend” a particular product, it’s because I like it, and nothing to do with the brand name on it.

    Perhaps you’re just trying to judge me by your own standards.

    #20 2 years ago

    “No. It’s the fact that he keeps coming on EVERY FRIGGIN article regarding Xbox One”

    LOL! How very revealing. This is a complete lie.

    Here’s a question for you and DarkElfa. How many of the following X1 related articles do I appear in?

    Happy hunting!

    #21 2 years ago
  22. salarta

    @20: “I buy new, and I discard. I like digital stuff, and Bushnell was clearly talking about keeping games for a long time, aka hoarding.”

    Bushnell wasn’t talking about hoarding games or personally keeping them for a long time. He was talking about preserving games, or in other words ensuring that they’re still actually available for people to access in the future. Theoretically, cloud gaming “could” be a great solution to this issue since then these games could be accessed from any type of future devices without physical restrictions.

    However, the way cloud gaming is working at present is that a service may have a game, and when that service goes defunct or the company decides to pull it from the servers, people won’t have access to it anymore. With a physical disc, there are no worries to be had about “will the server still be running 10-20 years from now” or “will the company take it offline.” We’ve had complications with the latter already, when companies that were going out of business took their games off Steam.

    It’s not about “hoarding” things you personally find valuable, storing them away when you no longer have any use for them. It’s about having access to the game again when you or someone else wants to play it. Imagine that ten years later, you have a hankering to play one of the games you sold after finishing it, so you try to find a shop that sells them only to find there are no shops or people anywhere that have even one copy for you to play. That’s the concern with the always-online emphasis.

    #22 2 years ago

    It’s about having access to the game again when you or someone else wants to play it. Imagine that ten years later, you have a hankering to play one of the games you sold after finishing it

    See, for me, this is the psychology of hoarding down to a t.

    Making up excuses to keep something that you don’t suppose that you will use for the next ten years, but maybe after that.

    I guess there’s flexibility on the exact definition, as long as it’s not compulsive hoarding, though.

    As for access to games being completely lost because of cloud tech, then I agree that this has always been an issue, even though it’s not for me, personally.

    If people buy something, it’s unfair that their product would become useless because the company that made it wants them to buy the new version. For sure.

    I’ve always been against that.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. TheBlackHole

    I don’t mind paying four the license to watch something, rather than own the product outright, but in that case I also expect to pay less than if I was buying each individual product (I.e. Netflix).

    Paying top dollar for each game and then not actually owning anything… Well, that I have more of a problem with.

    If I could pay £30 a month and get to play anything, I’d take that.

    Paying £45 per game for a temporary license… This is why I don’t buy things on steam.

    #24 2 years ago
  25. viralshag

    @23, I’m not sure. I don’t think someone is a hoarder just because they want to hold on to some of their favourite games or systems.

    I kept my SNES for a long time, I might even have it in the loft somewhere and that was for pure sentimentally. To be fair though I have only fired it up maybe once in the last decade and then stuck it back in the box haha. I doubt I will ever get it down again because pretty much anything I would want to play I can get digitally or elsewhere.

    Which is what I find with a lot of the games I would want to play, which is another reason I’m not so against digital games.

    @24, That’s exactly how I would like to play games these days. I found some time ago I would rather have access to media I want to watch rather than having to buy them outright.

    As soon as DVDs became the norm I found I had a stockpile of VHS, which is something I would want to avoid again. Obviously, for some films that I love I will buy the DVD (or preferably Bluray).

    I look at my pile of 360 games now and I just think all but the best will end up traded in. And if I own a PS4/One, and I can buy my favourites digitally, I will and get rid of the physical copies I kept too.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. Christopher Jack

    @9, Both Sony & MS switched from PowerPC architecture this gen to x86 next gen & while porting from the X360 would probably be easier, the fact is they both switched architecture.

    Also to note, we’ve been paying for the licenses rather than the actual game for decades, same goes with music and movies. MS are just now making it more obvious by making the disk irrelevant after installation but the fact is the disk always has been, it’s more a key than anything else, I think people just admirr being able to do anything with their key.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. salarta

    @23: It’s not “making up excuses,” it’s being cognizant of the possibility that sometimes you want to re-experience things you enjoyed before from a new, older perspective.

    I can understand your sentiment to an extent if we’re talking about physical media, because even though certain games like Suikoden II now cost several hundred dollars if you want to be able to actually play it legally, it’s still feasible to obtain a copy. A person could even take the illegal route and play a rom of the game with an emulator.

    Also, things are different today from the era Bushnell is talking about, which was the 70s/80s. Back in that era, games were popular, but they were also simplistic enough that most were considered disposable or not worth passing on in the way Pong and Asteroids were considered worth the trouble. Today, you could conceivably find a copy of just about any game you want from the PS1 on after (probably actually NES on after, to be honest) no matter how niche, even if it’ll cost you.

    #27 2 years ago

    @viral, salarta:

    Yeah, the guy’s talking about games from 1983, so maybe I’m just visualising what could possibly make me want to keep stuff that old, other than the desire to hoard things.

    40 minute load times, 16 colour graphics, mono sound and microswitches that probably don’t even click any more…

    Sure, I had the time of my life with the stuff back then, but I couldn’t imagine playing Emlyn Hughes International Soccer, these days, when I could be playing FIFA 14.

    That’s just me though. Naturally, everyone’s different.

    #28 2 years ago
  29. Old MacDonald

    6: It’s not about hoarding, it’s about the ability to preserve gaming culture and history. Imagine if most movies from the 30s-70s were simply gone because they were impossible to copy and were stored on something that disappeared after a while. It would have been a disaster. This is what is going to happen to games.

    #29 2 years ago
  30. viralshag

    @28, what about Sensible Soccer? :D

    #30 2 years ago
  31. Gnosis

    It’s already a pain that it’s basically impossible to make some of the old games work on your pc and the games don’t even have to be from the 80′s. Sure, it’s not developer’s fault, but still very frustrating. Now why would I want to buy a device, that will become useless and thus render my games unplayable in a couple of years? Especially when the companies suddenly decide, that “backwards compatibility is backwards”? Maybe I’m a hoarder, but sometimes there are games, that you can’t just simply replace with a new shinier version. Because there is none.

    #31 2 years ago
  32. salarta

    @31: The last thing you said raises another thorny issue, of alterations made for re-releases. The FF4DS remake of FF4 is a complete overhaul of everything from the original game, and playing the original is such a different experience from the newer version. Likewise, there are cases like Lunar: Silver Star Story, where the original localization of script and such has been replaced with newer scripts that are technically more accurate but obviously not the same experience.

    Some people may believe that “if it’s updated then it’s better, therefore you don’t need the old version,” but that’s not entirely true. It’s like the Star Wars films where re-releases of Episodes IV – VI involved alterations to fit later decisions by George Lucas. It’s also comparable to a book having all of its text rewritten; it may be telling the same story, but some of it is lost in the transition to “updated” language.

    #32 2 years ago
  33. zinc

    Your modern gamer is to become as a shark.

    Constantly moving forward, consuming new experiences, to stop is to die…

    Lol :)

    #33 2 years ago
  34. CyberMarco

    I was thinking, if the new Xbox One does have to be always on-line (yeah, I know it’s once every 24h, but it doesn’t change the fact that is technically “always-online”) and games will be available digitally from day 1, why are they bothering with retail copies. They are useless because once you insert the disc and the game is registered to your account you can always download it from XBL. Same thing if you bought the game from XBL in the first place.

    Please, don’t come saying PC/Steam is the same, because the DVD it’s the actual game and can work on every PC, it doesn’t require an Internet connection to verify the game.

    #34 2 years ago
  35. Gnosis

    @32 I was actually talking about games like Ulima. Being able to get upset about remakes is a privilege I don’t have. 15 years ago you were pretty much screwed as a European. Many games never arrived here and the consoles were region locked. I’m glad I can play those games at all (legally and for a decent price), let alone get the “real experience”. It’s not like ppl always have a choice.

    #35 2 years ago
  36. Madlink

    @CyberMarco I guess it’s still the easiest way to deliver the content to most consumers. The files sizes will be pretty hefty I’d imagine so some people will prefer popping to the shops or ordering online instead of waiting hours for it to download.

    And I know you asked us not to, but it is sort of like PC/Steam since some games require that you install Steam and connect to internet to verify to work, despite them being retail copies.

    #36 2 years ago
  37. salarta

    @34: That’s probably part of their overall scheme, to try to phase out the physical component. Once the physical component is phased out, they don’t have to pay for things like Blu-ray if their own formats don’t pan out. Companies also don’t have to pay the costs of manufacture and shipping, and they have the power to take the content offline or attempt to charge people extra to have access in the future if they can get away with it.

    Of course, they’re being overeager on this front, in that they seem to think we’re living in 2023 rather than 2013.

    #37 2 years ago


    lol! No, not even Sensible Soccer…

    I DL’d the demo on 360 a few years ago, played it a few times, and never bothered with the full game.

    I think the only old game I’d probably still play today, for more than about 20 minutes, would be Mario Kart on the SNES.

    Multiplayer, though, of course…

    #38 2 years ago
  39. CyberMarco


    Thanks for pointing it out for me. Well I guess you are still trapped with some games that use Steamworks in the end.

    So it seams that gaming as we knew it has an expiration date…

    #39 2 years ago
  40. backup

    PC is root of all causes kill PC and piracy will stop
    everything is pirated through PC

    #40 2 years ago
  41. monkeygourmet


    Fail again pirateStation 3, I told you before:

    You can’t pirate off IBM PC as games need a ‘code wheel!’!

    Linux system is how you pirate, and what Windows OS does the Sony run on? Yeah, you guessed it: LINUX!

    And Swappable hard drive meant geo hot could create a boot disc for torrent bay. Sony even made the PS slim so it’s easier to use torrent bay when your out, but obviously you’d know about that being a pirate station 3 owner.

    #41 2 years ago
  42. Jerykk

    When will people realize that backup is a troll? An extremely obvious troll at that. It doesn’t matter how rational your argument is because he’s not looking for an actual debate. He just wants to provoke people. By responding to his posts, you’re doing exactly what he wants.

    #42 2 years ago
  43. monkeygourmet


    I’m just having a laugh as you should be able to tell from the content of my post :)

    #43 2 years ago
  44. Jerykk

    Sadly, it can be hard to tell these days. :\ In any case, even if your reply isn’t serious, any reply will probably suffice for the average troll. It’s best to just ignore them entirely.

    #44 2 years ago

Comments are now closed on this article.

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