A word on emulation
Ever since I started this blog I’ve always made it a point to campaign against piracy. It should go without saying that I, like so many of my readers, love video games. And aside from a few indie titles, the majority of games are created by big development companies. These companies spend a huge amount of money on research and development so that they can create games that will sell enough units so that they can make a profit. It’s a win/win for everyone involved. The company creates an entertaining and quality product. The consumer enjoys the games that are being created and pays money so that they can play them at their leisure. The better the game is, the more units of the game are sold, and the more money the developers make. It’s a cycle that’s beneficial for both parties.
Of course, as is the case with anything, there’s always people who are inclined to get something for nothing. In the old days, this often meant stealing a physical game from the store shelves. These days, however, stealing a game can be as simple to downloading a ROM file off of a website. I want to be clear and state that I have never, nor will I ever, condone the act of video game piracy. If everyone started pirating games, then the companies that make them would struggle to profit from all of their hard work. If such things happen too frequently then there’s little motivation for that company to continue their efforts in game development. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this line of thought. Too much piracy means the end of good video game development.
For this reason, I’ve always been very careful to review games that I can physically get my hands on and play. Whenever I select a game for a review, I either play the game on its original hardware or I play a legally obtained digital version. There’s only been a few exceptions to this rule over the years. And these exceptions have only been made for extreme circumstances. Examples of these exceptions include abandonware, or obscure titles that were no longer available through any other means.
Today, I want to announce a slight change to this emulation policy. Going forward, when reviewing certain legacy titles, I may begin playing these games using emulation instead of playing them on their original hardware. I’m doing this for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I ran out space on my entertainment center quite a long time ago. A Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 or 5, and an Xbox One or S/X each take up a single HDMI connection. Add in a Blu-ray player or a satellite box and you’re at four or five devices. To make this work, I had to start using an HDMI switcher box a while back. Now, when you add in playing all these legacy games that are not compatible with modern consoles, I find myself having to swap out devices. Many PS2 games, for example, are not available digitally. So that means I have to unplug one console so that I can hook up my old PS2. It’s become a burden that I’m just not willing to take on anymore.
Secondly, a lot of the online services needed to purchase and play some of these older games are slowly being decommissioned. Purchasing classic PS titles on the PS3, while still available, has become quite restrictive. Similarly, Nintendo has shut off the online store for a number of their older consoles.
To workaround these issues, I’ve decided to openly embrace emulation for certain legacy titles. Now, to be clear, the titles that I will emulating are all games that I either own physical copies of or I have bought digitally on one platform or another. For me, playing via emulation is about convenience. The majority of games that I’m going to be emulating are PS2 titles. Ever since my original fat PS3 bit the dust, I’ve had to play PS2 games using my original PS2 console. Quite frankly, it’s a pain in the butt to drag this thing out for just a few days worth of play. The downside to this is that unless I play on a PS style controller, the playcontrol I’m experiencing isn’t going to be as accurate as it would on the original hardware. On the upside, emulators often include the ability to render older games at a higher definition. This means that games will look better than ever before. So expect some higher quality screenshots in the near future. Also, embracing emulation will make it easier than ever to stream retro titles.
As always, I try to be as transparent with my reviews as possible. For this reason, I wanted to take a moment and explain my reasoning behind this sudden change.