Why Is a Game Publisher Trying to Buy Every Video Game Ever Made? – VICE
A month ago, Embracer Group, an increasingly large video game publisher that’s been on a spending spree for more than a decade and recently purchased both Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal, announced a new and puzzling initiative: a complete video game archive. Embracer wanted to, in its own words, “have a copy of each physical game ever made,” and announced it had acquired 50,000 “games, consoles, and accessories” that were in the process of being moved to a huge underground vault near Karlstad, Sweden.
Okay, but why? The concept of “preservation” is without a strict definition. Texas is already home to the National Videogame Museum, which opened to the public in 2016 and has interactive exhibits related to gaming’s 50-year history. It’s also building an archive. Perhaps there’s merit in having a single location with a copy of every video game, but if it’s ultimately in control of a private company, who benefits? Then, there are competing initiatives by organizations like The Video Game History Foundation, focused on preserving digitally.
The concept is eye-catching, especially from a company best known for buying others, and whose CEO told the Financial Times “if you can make one game, you have a big business risk but if you make 200 games, like we do, the business risk is less.” (It recently defended a $1 billion investment from Saudi Arabia, despite calling it a “non-democratic country.”)
“A few years ago, I realized it would make much more sense to make an archive rather than a personal collection,” said Emracer Group CEO Lars Wingefors, who Forbes estimates to be worth $1.6 billion, in an interview with Waypoint. “I really like the concept of having an everyday organization around this that lives and breathes around building this archive.”
Professor Darren Wershler, who oversees a collection of consoles with an emphasis on modded hardware at Concordia University in Montreal, told Waypoint he thinks there are two reasons why the Embracer archive exists.
“First, as the kind of PR move that large corporations make to endear themselves with their client base; and second, but more significantly, as a research tool for expanding their holdings,” he said. “Generally, gamers like the idea of video game archives, but, as someone who maintains a research collection, I can tell you that few people ever visit them.”
Beyond stocking shelves and building a database, it’s not clear what the endgame is for Embracer’s enormous archive. According to Embracer’s website, the archive’s future is fuzzy, suggesting a potential world where the archive could be used by journalists and researchers, loaned to museums, and potentially explored by the public. Wingefors told me they want to “avoid promising too many specifics about the future” because it’s so far off.
“Embracer is in the intellectual property (IP) business,” said Wershler. “They buy other companies as a way of securing valuable titles. Not just new ones, but ‘evergreen’ and forgotten titles as well. Building an archive will allow Embracer to effectively research all the historical game IP out there in order to acquire and control …….