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Warner Bros. did a Coyote Vs. Acme on Small Radios Big Televisions, so the dev has made it free to download

Digital preservation thoughts

A blocky industrial building in Small Radios Big Televisions
Image credit: Adult Swim Games

In further confirmation that one can never truly own digital media, Warner Bros. Discovery has decided to "retire" 2016's noodling around puzzle game Small Radios Big Televisions - meaning it'll disappear off storefronts in the next 60 days. Developer Owen Deery revealed this news on Xitter a couple of days ago, simultaneously announcing that the game is now free to download. Deery also noted you can buy the synthy soundtrack to show support.

This is seemingly part of WB pulling a bunch of Adult Swim Games games (which they now own in one of those cascading business buyout things). In an interview with Game Developer Deery called it "kind of depressing", and said that "when you're working with purely digital products nothing is going to stay around for very long."

Warner Bros. are getting a bad rep for just wiping things off the face of the planet, with the headline-grabbing example of recent weeks being Coyote Vs. Acme, an entire film that was finished and done, and will now never been seen by anyone. Digital preservation is a hotbutton issue for other reasons. Recently Kate Wagner wrote an incredible article about the power and wealth dynamics of F1, and the publication she wrote it for deleted it within hours, and hasn't come up with an explanation anyone really believes. With the closure of both Vice and now Rooster Teeth, I've seen people on Xitter reminding others to essentially preserve the content they liked before it disappears. But it's been an issue with video games for a long time - apparently 90% of classic games are critically endangered, as if we were talking about pandas, and a few years ago we nearly lost basically every classic Flash game.

Digitising entertainment means it is easier to download and share around but, like the money in my bank represented by a number on the screen, these things exist because enough people in charge agree that they should. If someone presses the delete key, it's all gone, and the FBI agent who needs me to put 50k in cash in a shoebox is going to be shit out of luck. I'm really happy that Deery has been able to hold on to that game, which represents hours of effort and creativity that would otherwise have disappeared.

It feels like now, because the entities who have access to the delete button are solely concerned with profit, the onus for preservation is more and more on the collective us, and I'm not sure how well that's going to go in the long term. For one thing, can we just back up everything? But for another, when things like this disappear not many people notice, in part because it's happening so much now. Thank god Fred Durst was saved, at any rate, even if it was an accident.

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