The Disney Afternoon Collection, a 6-pack of classic Disney licensed games made by Capcom in the early '90s, has been restored and made available on modern systems in surprisingly good condition for today's gamer to enjoy. And we have pirates to thank for it.
Nope. Not those pirates. You see, when these #Disney classics made the jump from the NES to #PC, #PS4 and #XboxOne, they also come with some additional features and behind-the-scenes extras that are only possible because one of the devs involved in the restoration pirated prototypes of the game back in the day.
The Pirate That Made It Possible
One of the devs that had a hand in the restoration of the 6 Capcom classics was Frank Cifaldi, head of restoration at Digital Eclipse. In the above tweet he reveals several juicy tidbits from the development and restoration process, including an admission of a checkered past: Some of the behind-the-scenes extras in the Disney Afternoon Collection only exist in part because when he was a kid, he actually helped to pirate them.
Check out the trailer for the Disney Afternoon Collection, brought to you by diligent gaming pirates/historians:
Now, thanks to the young Frank Cifaldi's roguish past, we can enjoy content from the prototype versions of the games that would have otherwise been completely lost. This is great news for the fans of the Disney Afternoon Collection, but it also highlights a key issue in the games industry as a whole.
Right Now, 'Stealing' Is Responsible For Preserving A Huge Amount Of Gaming History
Video games are still a young medium but the industry has never been great at preserving its work for posterity. Publishers will run a game for a couple of years before losing interest as they turn their efforts to their next projects, shutting down servers and killing old games without much thought for historical interest.
Retro-gaming is fun, but we don't just do it for pleasure. For the nerdier crowd of retro-gamers (yes, that's a thing), there's also an academic interest in preserving a history of an evolving art form. Without much official support for this, much of what gets archived comes from piracy, leaks, and workplace theft.
Frank Cifaldi himself is the founder and director of The Video Game History Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to cataloging, digitizing, and preserving the history of video games, and I highly recommend you check out their work.
Thanks to the hard work of people who uploaded software they didn't own the rights to on to the internet archive, we have can access and play a host of historical games for a wide variety of platforms, from forgotten nuggets to generation-defining classics.
There's also resources that catalogue cut content from games, giving us vital insight into the development process that otherwise might be forgotten. I've combed these archives to bring to light the cut content from popular franchises like Fallout and Mass Effect, but there are even weirder tidbits in there, like the strange passive-aggressive messages in early versions of The Lion King.
Hopefully, now that the work of 'thieves' like Cifaldi is making companies like Capcom some money, large publishers will become more aware of the importance of preserving their legacy. Until then, we can thank the passion of pirates for preserving the history of video games and their culture.
What do you think? Is piracy justified for historical interest?