Games Called Abandonware

Sep 22, 2017 | 1 Votes by jose 10 rate Your vote
The current availability of Free Abandonware sites have given the computing public a chance to play the old beloved games. The adage that old is gold may hold very true in some respect but there are also some things that have to be considered. Let’s take a closer look at these old software and games called Abandonware. WWGDB - Games Called Abandonware

The computer gaming industry has been around for a long time. When the first micro computers rolled out around the late 70’s and proliferated into the early 80’s one of the foremost reasons people bought them was because they wanted to play games.

Sure there where other things you could do with it like track and keep a record of your expenses, compute payroll, wordprocess and a myriad of other reasons to justify spending hundreds on an expensive electronic wonder. However, no one was fooling anybody because it was the computer game software industry that raked in the cash.

For the computer veterans out there who where very much active and present at the time, it was a fact that companies like Infocom, Broderbund, SSI and Microprose among others ruled the day. Fast forward to the present, 1977 to 2017, yes, that long! These companies are gone except for the wonderful legacy they left behind, the games. Though some companies are still around like Electronic Arts and Activision, the games they created at that time have been relegated to the annals of game history.

Many of these games are considered extreme classics that many a young and nostalgically not so young gamers strongly believe in giving them a whirl on their hard drives for posterity sake. As necessity is the mother of invention, the emulator was created. These programs where written to simulate or mimic the micro computer operating systems of ancient lore thus giving the magical ability to run those olden games on your current PC, Mac or mobile device.

An example is the venerable DosBox emulator that imbues current Windows PC’s (from Win XP and onwards) the capacity to run your old old favorite DOS game. As to why bother, because these games have been literally thrown into an electronic heap and there is so much to choose from and have a lot of fun with. Also…(whisper) You can get them for Free.

Since the late 1980’s throughout the 90,s and the new millennium, people have been systematically archiving these games on the net. Many of them have been made available to the old games enthusiast and the emulator crowd. In 1996, online archiver Peter Ringering coined the term Abandonware for these kind of software. He then proceeded to contact other archiving websites like his and was able to link them to each other to form the original Abandonware website ring in 1997.

Abandonware: Duke Nukum


The scope of Abandonware however is quite broad. These not only relate to old games but other software as well like applications, operating systems, device control programs and any piece of digital code or device that no longer has any form of support, considered obsolete and not marketed anymore by the developer, manufacturer or publisher. In short, they have been abandoned.

Several institutions and computer museums like the International Center for the History of Electronic Games (ICHEG) and the Computer History Museum have been collecting copies of these for historical and preservation purposes. Legal battles had to be waged with organizations more concerned with copyright law than the practical available distribution and archiving of obsolete products that are no longer market viable, like the notorious Interactive Digital Software Association which demanded a cease and desist order against the original Abandonware ring only to have more and more archiving websites mushroom all over the internet.

Today, one simply has to type the word Abandonware on any current web search engine worth its salt to be presented with a list of available archive websites where one can get abandoned software for free.

Despite the availability, legal constraints still remain. Not all Abandonware have been legally released to the public though current still existing companies and specially those that no longer exist will likely be able to take legal action when it comes to their old products that are no longer in commercial distribution or at least selling. The old games may be abandoned but not all of them have been made public domain or copyright free.

This has led to a long running controversial issue if it would be legal or right to download the old games like Contra, Donkey Kong or Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Realistically however, it would really be up to the person in front of the computer and wanting to play the game to do some proper research on whether the game has been given permission as well as is available for download. Readily available and free2play does not necessarily mean legally available, but even most of the developers have already given up their old creations up for posterity and the decision to download whether right or wrong will be something only you and you alone as a gamer will be able to deal with.

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