Emulation Station: Keep your Xbox and your Steambox, give me a box that plays all the games I’ve missed.

Posted: November 8, 2013 by ryanlecocq in Off-topic, Technology

In the rush toward the upcoming video game console generation, one feature is falling further and further behind: backwards compatibility.  While the console manufacturers (and especially Nintendo) have made efforts to provide us with downloadable versions of old games, there are still hundreds of lost gems that remain unobtainable.  Games like Panzer Dragoon Saga, Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall are landmark games that every gamer should play at least once.  The problem is that these games and many more can only be played on the original hardware they were released on.  Since it’s getting harder and harder to find older consoles and computers in working condition, this makes these classics nearly unobtainable to the mainstream gaming audience.  On the PC, services like Good Old Games are working hard to release versions of these games that function on modern hardware, but they are limited by licensing and availability/portability of original code.

What I envision is a dedicated platform for classic games.  An emulation station if you will.  The idea is a box, tablet, handheld or PC addon that is the go-to source for all brands of classic games.  It would be difficult to establish a hardware standard capable of playing the majority of these games, but not by any means impossible.  Rather than each creating their own outlets, companies like GoG could become publishers or channels on this single service.  The EmuStation would become the dedicated source of all things old and would be an attractive option for the owners of these IPs.  The internet emulation community has advanced in leaps and bounds over recent years and the tools required to play these games are generally already available as freeware.  As long as the publishers could get the same royalties from each game that they receive now, it would only be in their best interests not to do all of this work over again on their own.  The creators of these emulators would benefit as well, because the wider exposure of their work would likely lead to offers from major software companies.  All in all it’s a win-win for everyone involved, especially the gaming public.

Such a machine could be manufactured incredibly cheap.  I envision it as a device that plays everything from the early days of gaming and ending with the Dreamcast.  Since this could be achieved with a device comparable to most phones or tablets in processing power, it could easily retail for around $100.  My dearest hope is that this article will end up predicting the future, like the article I wrote about the future of consoles that predicted the announcement of OnLive’s MicroConsole less than a month later (check it out, it’s eerie how I envisioned every feature including the price:  https://bleedingedgegaming.wordpress.com/2010/11/16/the-last-game-console/ ).  I seriously doubt Steve Perlman read my article, as the MC must have been in development for at least a year before, but I’m willing to accept blind luck as a cause if this one becomes a reality as well.  Feel free to post your comments and dreams about what such a console would be for you.

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