How Will History Remember The Topless Version Of The Saboteur?

The servers that support the mostly-offline video game The Saboteur are scheduled to go offline tomorrow. With that flip of a switch, we will lose the ability to make some of the women in the game topless.

Will you cheer this development? Will you boo it?

It doesn't matter much what you think of a game that lets players download a $US3 content update that lets you see some breasts. It doesn't even matter that that feature, designed to incentivise people who bought new copies of the game — buy it used and those women in the cabaret won't be naked! — was crass.

What strikes me as odd is that, when publisher EA takes down the servers for this game, supposedly tomorrow, we're supposed to lose the ability to make this tweak in the game. And that will mean that anyone from April 14, 2012 and onward who finds a copy of The Saboteur and a gaming console to play it on, will only ever be able to experience the non-nudity version of the game. The topless version will be locked inside of consoles like my PS3. Should my PS3 break, then I'll lose that experience too, since the topless thing isn't tied to the disc but to the download.

What happens in a decade if a scholar wants to see the topless version of the game? What code will they be able to access? It shouldn't matter, right? We're just talking about the tawdry topless mode in The Saboteur a good but not great open-world action game that casts the player as an Irish freedom fighter in German-occupied World War II France.

No big loss, right?

Last week, in Boston, I was talking to a game designer who is releasing his game later his year. Someone told him that the Library of Congress will accept any game developer's code for storage and posterity. He's going to send his code. He's doing it because, he told me, he wonders who in the world will be able to play his game in 10 years. Ten years! That's not long ago at all, but think about it: which games did you have 10 years ago that you can still play?

Big publishers shut down servers for games like The Saboteur to save costs and, often, because not many people are playing them anymore. Say goodbye to the game's topless mode. Good riddance, you might think, but as it disappears, part of that game likely becomes locked to just a few consoles and then, eventually lost.

Books decay. Records warp. And so, it seems, the games we like one year risk disappearing bit by bit.

(For more on preserving old video games, read this.)


Comments

    'which games did you have 10 years ago that you can still play?'

    Vagrant Story

    I'm getting to the point now when I dabble with some of my backlog for PS2 now that some of those games are just about hitting 10yrs when I play them the first time ><

      Smash Brothers (N64, Melee)

    I should unwrap my copy of the game and use that code tonight. I can't play without a bit of tit.

    I think issues like this is why museums and conservationists should consider YouTube as a form of preserving certain game features. For example how will we be able to show the chaos of a multiplayer session once the servers shut down? I think videos of the sessions are the best bet in such a scenario.

    Oh no.... I cant see animated tits in a game...... what am I going to do....

    Oh wait I'm on the internet.....and there is this thing called google.....

    /sarcasm

    I support more boobs in every medium. The more boobs I see in my general day-to-day life, the happier I am.

      Pfft, come work behind the bar at my work, you'll be sick of seeing the goddamn things after a fortnight.

    People probably won't remember this, but you can bet your ass they'll remember when EA hit the kill switch on the Bioware SP content servers.

    Wait, they needed a whole server (or servers) to store a tiny bit of code on for people to download? Why the hell don't they just put it out in the public cloud somewhere for free?!

    When publishers created this insane model in an attempt to control who was playing 'their' games they created a rod for their own back and put an end date on the games we bought.
    What happens when the activation servers no longer support mass effect? It's a stupid and unnecessary way to control who is playing, and eventually only the pirates will retain the ability to play the games.

    Hrmm.. If only there were some system for gaming whereby you could have like a 'File Explorer' of some kind so you could change the files yourselves so that it wouldn't matter that EA are doing this... Oh wait.

    It's a great day for the master race.

    Nice to see you totally miss the point, OZ Damien.

    This is the kind of thing that makes me completely hate the online age. Everything on my NES and Game Boy through to my GCN and DS will be forever playable as they were originally. All you need is the game and the console, and you're good to go. But then all this reliance on outside sources came about, and they're thinking of even making used games unplayable? It's enough to make me want to build some kind of videogame bomb shelter.

      Sorry, no I didnt miss the point. Hence the sarcasm at the end. The only feature being lost with the servers going off for this game is nudity. EA have been shutting servers off left right and centre. Activision has been doing the same.

      We live in a world of Consumerism. That means everything is built with a shelf date so we "HAVE TO" buy new and updated. Do I agree with it..... no.... am I getting by... yes.

      Consoles will forever be the worst affected from this. If I had better coding skills, I would work out a way for software to sit on the consoles of xbox360 and PS3 for when games only playable on them no longer have online support. (IE like crack software on PC). Unfortunetely Im not that smart. But I garuntee you fans will be when they release the future consoles. Look at all the hacks and cracks for N64/Dreamcast etc out there. Otherwise we buy into the developers HD extreme remakes for next gen consoles. (Metal gear etc).

    "The topless version will be locked inside of consoles like my PS3. Should my PS3 break, then I’ll lose that experience too, since the topless thing isn’t tied to the disc but to the download."

    Are you sure about that? It would be tied to your PSN download list, so presumably you'd be able to get it again.

    But yes, new players would not be able to authenticate it so the online pass would bite them on the arse. A dick move, indeed.

      New copies of the game would fail also, the redemption/online code/pass, whatever actually has a expiry date.

    There's always a pirated PC version for the desperate. I think it sucks though, and totally agree with the guy who said this is part of why he hates the online age of games.

    I just started replaying this game on Tuesday. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it.

    It made me sad for Pandemic all over again...

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