Megacorp Embracer Group has announced that they are building a games archive, to preserve games culture and save it for the future. The project is in the early stages, but they’ve already got 50,000 games and consoles stored up waiting to be catalogued.
Their “early access” video shows the underground “secret vault” in Sweden where they keep all of the objects they’ve collected so far.
Alongside games cartridges and disks, I spy a set of games cabinets, a life-size Stormtrooper figurine, and…a couch?
According to their website, the mission of the archive is “to have a copy of each physical game ever released,” that will continue to update as new games come out. They’ve recently brought on a team to tackle the mountain of stuff they’ve managed to acumulate and turn it into something manageable. Once that’s done, they’re hoping to be able to collaborate with other archival institutions and open up to researchers and journalists who want to investigate gaming history.
So far they’ve been picking through and highlighting some interesting finds, like the Konami silver boxes or the proliferaton of horse games.
I do love a good archival project, though I’m not totally sure that shelves upon shelves of physical games constitutes a true preservation of games culture. The existence of digital-only games aside, last year I spoke to the co-director of the Video Game History Foundation, Kelsey Lewin, about the National Videogame Museum’s Animal Crossing: New Horizon project. She pointed out that games aren’t just a physical product but an experience of play, informed by a lot more than what’s on the hardware itself.
“What’s important for the future is making sure that we have some kind of record of what the game was like in these moments of time,” she said. That’s exactly what the Animal Crossing Diaries hopes to do. The same goes for the work of the Slovak Design Museum, which recently translated a collection of ’80s text adventures, providing the necessary context of the time alongside their wider availability to English speakers.
As well as their warehouse stuffed with tens of thousands of physical games, Embracer Group owns dozens of development studios. Last year, that number was 68, but they said they were in talks with 20 more, and had their eyes on potentially 150 new candidates. Since then they’ve acquired 3D Realms and Gearbox, Perfect World Entertainment, and most recently several studios and IPs formerly owned by Square Enix.