If the U.S Copyright Office pushes forward with a DMCA review, long-dormant online games such as Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes could return once again.
The news, which comes via Digital Trends, is less-than-straightforward. In essence, a request from the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment to extend the exception revolving around museums, archives and libraries having access to abandoned online games to the general public may have wide-reaching ramifications for popular, now defunct MMOs.
If the rule change comes into effect, a scenario could crop up where online games that have had their servers shut down would be able to return, Only archivists and not, say, any old player, would be able to run a server but the end goal still remains: to preserve these long-gone online games as they were intended to be played, surrounded by people in a thriving online space.
The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment believes that the continuing, enormous popularity of online games is testament to its need to archive its predecessors, arguing that, “Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online”
However, the change faces stark opposition from The Entertainment Software Association, who represent companies such as Nintendo and EA. In a statement released by the group, the decision to “make the video game[s] available for play by a public audience” would not only violate copyright law, it would also come in direct competition with current, surviving titles.
It remains to be seen when (or if) the change would take place, but, for those who wistfully recall the days of City of Heroes, City of Villains and an abundance of other MMOs, it could be a welcome decision to bring forgotten games into a current gaming climate dominated by word-of-mouth and large, vibrant and active communities – precisely the shot in the arm the games needed before they closed their doors.