“We’re a company that just likes to push forward” says EA’s Chief Operating Officer, Peter Moore, in an interview with IGN. It’s bad news for anyone expecting an updated version of recent EA classics, like the Mass Effect Trilogy, Mirror’s Edge, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, or Burnout 3: Takedown.
It’s also emblematic of the video game industry’s antagonistic relationship with its own history. “Push forward” sounds like reasonably corporate-speak, but Electronic Arts also happens to have one of the biggest and most important libraries in gaming history, from Ultima to Dungeon Keeper to Bejeweled. EA does tend to do a good job of making certain many of their most famous games are available digitally, but they’ve also aggressively shut down underperforming games’ servers, making part or all of these games legally inaccessible.
With console backwards compatibility looking more like a brief, early-2000s fad than a trend, lack of publisher support for older games continues to contribute to a lack of accessibility to the medium’s history.
To be fair, HD remakes aren’t a great form of historical preservation either—they tend to be highly priced and only given to already-canonized games. But publishers are the best organizations for maintaining history and accessibility — without commitment on their end, game history remains in the hands of a hodge-podge of fans, academics, and pirates.
Moore’s look forward is short-sighted: without respect for history, how can games be described as important? And what does it mean that one of the most important publishers in the industry takes the position that they won’t look backward at history?