The digital landscape of games is as hellish as ever, between everyone wanting their own store, said stores possibly swiping games from others to try to draw more traffic, and games just arbitrarily being pulled or not even re-released for whatever reasons they can think up next. There might also be too much choice, which is a prime scenario for the Second Crash, when quality overall drops due to an amassing of shovelware. It is of course the choice of the consumer to invoke the Second Crash when they are fully dissatisfied with the current industry layout. Given the apparent mass appeal when it comes to purchasing whatever the next game in a series is without any kind of research into trends or waiting for thorough user investigations into the end product’s quality, as well as just dumping loads of money into arbitrary gambling with zero chance of monetary return, it would be a long fight to take down the system as it is now. Aware consumers tend to drop out of those money pits sooner, if even being present in them, leaving just the routine ones who are perfectly fine with everything being exactly how it is and possibly adhere to things being overmonetized even further.
As far as I can tell, there’s a significant percentage of console owners that exclusively play either annual sports titles or the latest typical FPS solely for multiplayer, ignoring whatever budget went into the campaign modes which can end up being decent at least, and those are really the main target for the publishers still cranking these out, so any amount of protest or counter-action that doesn’t invoke the core audiences probably won’t budge anything much. That doesn’t mean anyone wanting to do so shouldn’t, however. The continued existence of these games doesn’t mean someone must admit defeat and buy them at launch. I would even suggest checking out a few Call of Duty campaigns when they’re cheap at any place selling used games as long as physical media continues to be a thing. Otherwise who knows how the sale prices will look if the games are even up for that long on digital storefronts. They can get low, but they might not.
After convenience factor, the second most apparent aspect of digital storefronts is fleeting. That is, games being dropped from storefronts for any reason. It usually amounts to money. If there’s songs that had a temporary license in the game, the publisher may not bother renewing the licenses and just drop the game entirely. Either that or patch them out, which affects all owners that download the patch or don’t downgrade the game from those patches, even if they bought the game during the licensed period. There’s other aspects of licensing, like movie tie-ins, like what happened to the Scott Pilgrim game until that was recently announced for a re-release, but who knows how long that one will last. Arguably that was closer to the comics in its style, but it was made as a movie tie-in, so that made things more complicated than necessary.
There’s also how a game may get pulled for being offensive. In some cases, the games are deliberately made as offensive as possible purely to offend people, and not just be a hard-hitting satire that pulls no punches, so that would make sense. In other cases, maybe it’s some depiction of a culture or certain life conditions, but that hasn’t stopped many companies from releasing games that don’t exactly go about those in a respectful manner, possibly promising some later rework of the dialogue, and then forgetting about it. However, if the offended party, say a Certain Controlling Party, has a bundle of cash and the authority to bar an entire publisher or storefront from its country, as well as brainwash or hire help to pressure possible “threats” to its image, then it’s more likely that publishers or storefronts will bend to their will.
Devotion, a game that’s been most notable for how much the Chinese government hates it and anyone involved with it than how it’s some kind of horror game set in Taiwan in the 1980s, keeps coming up. Maybe it’ll be released again, but then “someone” pressures them to cut it. The most recent actual release was apparently a Taiwan-only physical limited release, and had GOG not wussed out due to pressure from “gamers”, they could have recovered some PR from the Cyberpunk fiasco, but now they’ve just dug themselves into a deeper hole. I haven’t bought any games from them in quite some time and it looks like that drought will continue. It’s great timing, too, because they’re having a sale and a giveaway which is going to do nothing to convince me to buy anything from them ever again at this rate. I’ve just been taking the free games and unsubscribing the newsletter, like with Humble. They already had terrible PR in the past given their social media department having to be completely liquidated at some point. It’s a shame, though, a company willing to enforce a lack of DRM falling into the same traps that typical corporations do, but it’s mostly an inevitability in the capitalist environment to value money over lives. I still find ActiBlizzard guilty of this behavior as well, but it’s also more so that I haven’t been interested in their games practically ever.
If anyone outside of Taiwan who didn’t get Devotion in the short window it was on Steam wants to play, and given said person is either out of Chinese jurisdiction or is really good at hiding things from a surveillance state, piracy is the main option, given how no storefront seems to want to sell it. If Epic wanted good PR, this would be their chance. Speaking of Epic, though, some people resort to piracy to play the games that they’ve swiped from other storefronts because they don’t want to support that practice. The act in this case is more in protest than the act of just wanting to play a game that’s not otherwise available for some reason, like PC versions of Prey from 2006 or Star Trek Elite Force, outside of getting lucky at places like a thrift store or online auction sites. Sometimes the physical copy might come with some outdated DRM scheme that Windows may have gone so far to patch out support for because it could actually break computers, so know how to bypass that.
What’s considered piracy ends up being a force in games preservation, as the industry seems to want games to be treated as ephemera rather than works, like movies, which the Library of Congress occasionally deems titles of which to preserve copies for example. I don’t know of examples which compare the severity of possible punishment to the age of the games, so anything may go here. As legal departments get increasingly trigger happy in various cases, points have to be made to make sure that acts of preservation won’t be on par with serial murderers, that making or downloading a copy of a game isn’t just for those not wanting to buy a copy of a recent release. It can be more like a library of sorts, just that digital copies of data can be manipulated by those willing to do so, and publishers just seem to hate that. Some digital library data may operate on a “check out” system which limits access to the files to one user at a time, but I think a lot of people I’d ask about it would consider that to be a load of crap. Those are really put in by request of publishers anyway. I wonder how many times publishers have tried to take down the entire concept of a library. Probably too many, even once is too many, even if that case not working in their favor made a precedent.