Console Games

   Critically Endangered small

Console games  include all games that were designed to be played on video game consoles, both home consoles and handheld consoles. The three most common consoles manufacturers at this time are Nintendo (Switch), Sony (PlayStation) and Microsoft (Xbox).

Digital Species: Gaming

New Entry

Consensus Decision

Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within three years, detailed assessment in one year.

Significance of Loss

The loss of tools, data or services within this group would impact on a large group of people and sectors.

Effort to Preserve | Inevitability

It would require a major effort to prevent or reduce losses in this group, including the development of new preservation tools or techniques.


Consoles: SEGA Dreamcast, XBOX 360, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PS Vita, NES

Games: Pokémon, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Red Dead Redemption, Soulcalibur, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Guitar Hero, Bloodborne

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Complex hardware dependencies or bespoke hardware; planned obsolescence; dependency on remote servers that are closed; complex intellectual property rights; use of older magnetic media; free distribution on magazines; loss of underlying code or gaming engine; limited or no commercial interest.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

IPR supportive of preservation; strong documentation; source code; emulation pathway; trusted designated repository or community taking preservation responsibility and capable to deliver.

2023 Review

The 2023 Council created two new entries, Console Games and PC Games, to complement the already existing entry of Smartphone Gaming. This was done to highlight the unique preservation issues that exist for each of these categories, such as Console Games being more reliant on peripherals.

Additional Comments

Within the past few years, a number of digital console store fronts have shut down, including the PS3, PSP and PS Vita web and mobile stores as well as the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U eShop which was shut down this year. Alongside this, online services for console games are often shut down on older consoles, such as Nintendo announcing a discontinuation of online services for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Software in early April 2024.

Every company that releases a console will also release at least one peripheral for that system (the controller), with most releasing a number of extra peripherals, some only suited to one or two games. There are also a number of third-party peripherals available as well. These peripherals provide an added layer of complexity to the preservation of console games.

Security software company Denuvo recently announced that its protection tools are now available to Switch developers which would block unauthorized emulations of those games on PC. Denuvo is a DRM solution that is unpopular with large swaths of the gaming community due to needing a periodic online connection and, given that this protection tool is designed to stop unauthorized PC emulations, there is a risk to ad-hoc and community preservation projects that use emulation to preserve games.

Case Studies or Examples:

See also:

  • The Videogame Heritage Society, led by the National Videogame Museum, founded in 2022 to bring together organizations and collectors working with videogames. It provides advocacy, expertise, and support in collecting, preserving and displaying video games. See National Video Museum (2020) ‘Videogame Heritage Society’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The Video Game History Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to preserving and teaching the history of video games. See Video Game History Foundation (n.d.), ‘Mission’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The Hidden Palace is a community dedicated to preservation of video game development media which includes prototype and source code. See Scott, J. (2020), ‘The Hidden Palace Prototype Collection’, Internet Archive. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023]

  • The British Film Institute's “Embracing a wider screen culture” strategy notes the cultural significance of video games and states that they intend to embark on sector research, engagement and knowledge exchange (including on the preservation of video games and digital media). See BFI (n.d.) ‘Embracing a wider screen culture’. Available at: [accessed 24 October 2023].

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