Big publishers / game companies and emulators/roms

I’m curious as to why publishers don’t create their own well working emulator (that supports all past platforms), and release their entire back catalog as .99 download content for phones, tablets, PC.

There is currently no legit avenue to support publishers/ developers for a ton of old games that there is quite a bit of interest for. It doesn’t seem like it would be much of an upfront cost, and the revenue would certainly at the very least pay for itself, and I’m guessing be a huge hit. I would argue that there are a ton of people that would be more than happy to pay for a well made way to play old games on iphones, androids, tablets etc. I know for me personally there a some games I’d be happy to pay quite a bit for as phone compatible.

There is a somewhat gigantic emulator/rom market going on, and I think there is an opportunity for someone to actually make money on doing this well.

Well, Electronic Arts (as an example of a publisher) never owned any of the past platforms that it would want to emulate. Neither does Activision or Ubisoft, etc. Sega owns their past platforms, and they have released their old catalog on PC, 360, PS3 (maybe even the Wii? I’m not sure). Nintendo owns its past platforms, and they released everything digitally on the Wii’s virtual store and tied it to your specific Wii. The beauty of that system (for Nintendo, not the consumer) is that it can do the same thing again for future platforms. Own Mario 64 for the N64? Well, why not buy it again to run on your Wii? And if the Wii U eventually becomes a success, I’m sure they’ll release it on that too.

You can transfer digital Wii games, including Virtual Console stuff, to a Wii U, without having to rebuy stuff (there’s a very small fee if you want full Game Pad support for VC titles). The Wii storefront is accessible on a Wii U, as well. (Compare this to digital libraries on PS3 and 360 that won’t work on their respective successors at all, aside from a couple of PSN games that have gotten cross-buy PS4 versions.)

Anyway, yeah, the answer is pretty much “because publishers aren’t the rights holders for the important part of the equation here.” Nintendo sure as hell isn’t going to release official emulators on non-Nintendo platforms, and I highly doubt Sony would release official emulators on non-Sony platforms either. (They certainly can’t have been happy at how including a PSX emulator with the Xperia Play turned out!) Sega doesn’t matter much, but they love to rerelease their back catalogue on nearly every platform known to man; same goes for a lot of companies with strong arcade backgrounds, like Namco (they love those Namco Museum releases!) and Capcom, as they own the rights to their legacy arcade hardware.

They probably can’t easily make enough money/do it cheaply enough.

In many cases, if they do a rush job and just make it a pure emulator, they’re going to face scorn from people who will play the game on a custom tweaked emulator with greatly improved graphics or maybe even fan translations.

It is also a pretty small market i’d imagine. If you have a pretty good computer, you can run basically anything short of ps3/xbox 360 on an emulator on high settings. If your computer is only so-so you will probably be able to run almost all ps2 titles but some will be too much and may have to run at native settings. Now out of the people with a good computer, how many want to play a 5+ year old game instead of the latest Call of Battlefield 21?

I also don’t think it is quite as easy as you make it sound to make a good emulator (although i do admit that the company who made the system would have a significant advantage, if they have people who worked on them still around and/or good documentation). Now we take it for granted that playing on an emulator is often greatly improved over the native format for older games, but how many years did each of them take to get to that point?

I agree that there is a market for it, but I’m not paying $20+ for a straight port of a 10+ year old game without any improvements at all.

“Well, Electronic Arts (as an example of a publisher) never owned any of the past platforms that it would want to emulate”…I get that, but it behooves them to strike a deal.

“They probably can’t easily make enough money/do it cheaply enough.” My point exactly, there are a ton of games, and the investment is minimal. Creating emulators and roms is something the fan community has done, and done to an absurd degree. How much is cheaply enough to encourage people that don’t want to rip you off to use your service? Even if this was a wash which I highly doubt, I think there is money to made here, you would still come out the hero with good will acquired, if nothing else for the publicity alone. All it takes is a semi clever ad campaign… How many PS1 games are there for example, and a much loved platform. If you monetize those games regarding the cost of developing some sort of backwards compatible system…I just don’t see that it’s that expensive. Hell, you could hire one basement dweller from ‘coolroms’, and not only would they program it, they would give you knee slapping youtube advertising vids.

This entire thing is an angle, and it’s an angle that needs to be handled by someone that has a clue how to handle it. I’m beyond sure I could make this work, and make it a huge success, both in good will terms, and money.

Somehow i doubt doing this would be as easy as sony burning an image of final fantasy xii on a dvd and having another dvd containing PCSX2…

CINEMAWARE has done that with some of their classic AMiGA titles for mobile phones. Basically emulated Amiga versions.

Cynical answer: Because they can cherry pick titles, bundle them up in collections of 15-20, and sell that collection with a ‘retro’ or ‘arcade’ frontend on consoles for 60 bucks.

I imagine it’d work more like a GOG release - game and emulator bundled as a single .exe, .ini file available to tweak for those who know what they’re doing. I know some enthusiasts have done this with disc based emulators but don’t remember if it was PS1 or PS2 (probably both).