Critically Endangered small

Older or non-current video games designed and played on platforms and devices that are no longer supported online. These include video games that have a dependency on communication with servers that no longer exist (loss has already happened) and others where the dependencies are to do with old hardware/software where there is more potential to preserve the interaction.

This entry also refers to offline gaming, understood here as the interactions and experiences of non-current offline video games that are playable on available on old hardware and software (console and PC technology). These remain playable due to a significant investment of skill and time by players but remain at risk with a lack of presence in safeguarded collections.

Group: Gaming

Trend in 2021:

Consensus Decision

Added to List: 2017

increased riskTrend towards greater risk

Previously: Critically Endangered


Trend in 2022: 


No change No Change


Imminence of Action

Action is recommended within twelve months, detailed assessment is  a priority.

Significance of Loss

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

Effort to Preserve

Loss seems likely: by the time tools or techniques have been developed the material will likely have been lost.


Older versions of games such as Civilization; EA Sports; Doom; Role-Playing Games (RPGs) such as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Games that rely on unique peripherals to play, including rhythm action titles such as Guitar Hero.

‘Practically Extinct’ in the Presence of Aggravating Conditions

Complex hardware dependencies or bespoke hardware; dependence on obsolete, low usage operating systems with no emulation pathway; 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; dependency on remote servers that are closed.

‘Endangered’ in the Presence of Good Practice

Emulation pathway; source code; trusted repository; large user community;

2021 Jury Review

This entry was added in 2017 as a subset of ‘Gaming,’ It was rescoped in 2021 to bring in overlapping technical complexities with the ‘Old or non-current video games’ entry, which arise from preservation of software and hardware environments, and to narrow concerns specific to offline games and gaming. There is an active specialist market for older games which enables preservation but also skews it around commercial interests. The 2021 Jury noted the need to clarify that the meaning of ‘older’ is open to interpretation, but any version more than ten years from release should be included here, even if and perhaps especially if there are more recent releases.

Additional Comments

Work is happening in this space, and there is an avid amateur community working on this - how do we harness their work, so it is preserved rather than reinventing the wheel?

There are a lot of older (online, typically MMPORG) games that are purely/mostly supported by its community fan base. For example, these communities (distinct to each game) create mods, updates, sometimes host servers, refine animations, etc., to keep these games playable and/or looking fresh for the rest of the community when it’s no longer updated/supported by the game developer. What is interesting is that this is mainly for PC versions of the game because accessing the game on a computer just allows for more customization (Skyrim on PC vs. Skyrim on PlayStation).


See also:

  • The Videogame Heritage Society, led by the National Videogame Museum, founded in 2022 to bring together organisations and collectors working with videogames. It provides advocacy, expertise, and support in collecting, preserving and displaying videogame. online at

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