Square Enix Doesn't Know Where Some Of Its Old Games Are

Square Enix, one of the largest video game publishers on the planet, is interested in getting its entire back catalogue of games together so it can sell/stream them to you online. But there’s just this one tiny problem: some of the older games are missing.

In an interview with Game Informer this week at E3, Square President Yosuke Matsuda was asked about the idea of major publishers making their back catalogues available as part of a service. “The more classic titles that you might have played on NES, we are still working hard to make it so you can play those”, he said.

“We actually have launched a dedicated project internally to port those, so we are working to make them available on a variety of platforms. Certainly down the road, we would like to see that on a subscription or streaming service, so we’re exploring the possibility of creating a dedicated channel for ourselves.”

Sounds cool! Except for, you know, the whole missing games part.

“I’m embarrassed to admit it, but in some cases, we don’t know where the code is anymore”, Matsuda reveals.

“It’s very hard to find them sometimes, because back in the day you just made them and put them out there and you were done – you didn’t think of how you were going to sell them down the road. Sometimes customers ask, ‘Why haven’t you released that [game] yet?’ And the truth of the matter is it’s because we don’t know where it has gone.”

This is at once both insane (this is a major publisher!) but also entirely understandable (the 80s were a long time ago!). It’s easy to look back in 2019, with all we know about game preservation and the value of some of these titles/series, and gasp, but as Matsuda basically says the early days of console development were in a lot of ways just wingin’ it, and I doubt anyone at Square or Enix could have foreseen just how massive their combined company would be at this stage of the 21st century.

Sadly we don’t know exactly which games are missing, but I’m looking forward to writing a follow-up “Oh Nevermind Square Enix Found Them” story in a year or two when an office clean-out finds a dusty old box of disks tucked away behind some posters for The Bouncer.


    If Illusion of Gaia/Terranigma are gone, let me down now so I can grieve.

    Getting physical copies, dumping them and running through an emulator should be easy since they were NES era or earlier right?

    In these days of emulation, who needs original source code? Just bundle the compiled binary with an emulator, and it should be able to run on any modern system/console.

      That may be an option in some cases, but there are reasons why you might want to avoid it.

      If you're targeting a handheld/mobile system, you might prefer native code for battery use reasons: both for the emulation overhead, and if the game is performing busy loops for timing.

      If the game came from a system that had firmware providing services to games, you might not have permission to reproduce the firmware when publishing on competing systems. The same could be true of library code compiled into the game itself.

      They might want to improve the game so it plays better on modern system. This could be simple things like using the platform's saved game system, intermediate things like a wide screen mode, or even remastered artwork.

        Also the "not for commercial use" clauses that open-source emulators tend to have. I profess to knowing nothing about licensing said emulator code for something like a console re-release.

          There are plenty of actual open source emulators out there without "no commercial use" licenses if that's the way they want to go. I'm sure there are also proprietary emulators they could license if they prefer.

          Capcom getting caught out with fbalpha just looked like a case of them not doing the barest minimum due diligence.

      Although once you have a stable emulator running it's easy to emulate a different game. Emulation is never as good as tweaking the source and compiling it to run on the target hardware.

        Depends on what you mean by "good". Emulation is never as efficient as native code, sure, but when you want to run old code on a much more recent and more powerful system, it's a pretty neat solution. And, like you say, once you have emulation down pat, you can run _any_ game from that system.

        And in this case, when you don't have the source code, other than reverse compiling, your only choice is to emulate.

    Good thing to prove emulation is more reliable then the original producers.
    Except they want money and don't seem to be able to produce nice new games, so then they want to release old games that they haven't stored in the last 30 years.

      Yeah stuff them and their wanting to get paid for their work. You deserve it for free.

    FFVII was lost before the game came out, the folks who did the English version didn't even get the masters and Square even contacted them some time later to ask of they had it.

    All the cool kids are remaking these things from scratch in modern game engines anyhow, or indeed, as Half Life 2 mods.

    I hope Secret of Evermore hasn't been lost, a remake in the same direction that Trials of Mana seems to be going could be damn good.

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