Platinum Games' removal of World of Demons from Apple Arcade and the consequences of a new age
Earlier this week, legendary action game developer Platinum Games revealed that within the month, they will remove their Apple Arcade exclusive World of Demons from the platform, banishing it to complete nonexistence at the press of a button.
Right around the same time this piece of news dropped, a post on Twitter (or X if you’d prefer) revealed that the consumer electronics store Best Buy is in the process of phasing out physical DVDs as a whole, with a picture of the movie section of an unspecified store completely devoid of shelf occupation.
These two events are more related than you may imagine, as both paint an incredibly dark and miserable picture of the future of not only video games but media as a whole. I personally saw it coming to fruition when the Playstation and Xbox both revealed that their latest generation of consoles would come in two separate models; one with a disc drive, and one without. While some players might have been happy about this, given the lower price point for the non-disc version, it may not be as simple as offering an alternative affordable option.
Is media dying?If you’ve experienced just about any media as of late, you’ll know that streaming is all the rage. From Netflix to Max to Peacock to Apple TV, there are so many different options to watch your shows or movies that it would have made your head spin had you been told this was what awaited us back in the era of cable TV.
Games are not much different, though rather than streaming, you instead download your titles from different platforms, be that the Steam storefront, the Playstation Store, or any of the other various console and mobile storefronts. All of these platforms, be they TV or movies or games, have one thing in common - a thing that we’ve already seen in spades; they can all add and remove media at their whim, taking away a product that you’ve paid good money for without your say-so.
There’s no shortage of series that have been removed from Netflix to never be seen again, just as there is no shortage of examples of games that have been ousted from the PlayStation store or Steam. In fact, you may recall a certain controversial triple-A sci-fi game that was such a mess on launch that Sony removed the listing from their store: Cyberpunk 2077.
Sure, one could argue that this was because the game ran so poorly, but who’s to say an individual who purchased the game with their own money wasn’t enjoying it regardless just to watch it stripped away or become unable to purchase it had they any interest? Eventually, Cyberpunk 2077 ended up back on the Playstation store, but what happens when it doesn’t?
Well, World of Demons happens. However, it’s actually an even worse case of media preservation falling through the cracks, as it is a digital-only game, meaning nobody out there has a rip of it or a CD or anything of that nature. Instead, once it’s gone, it will be far more difficult to find a way to get your hands on it, especially given its place on the Apple store, which is notorious for not allowing things like APK downloading or other methods of getting the game onto your phone without the use of the App Store.
Beyond the App StorePerhaps it’s easy to dismiss this case as a simple mobile game that will disappear much like the vast quantities of gacha games that have ended service, but what many should begin to understand is that this paints a picture that we’re all just okay with developers and companies removing the games we love right from under our noses. What happens when the physical copies are removed from our purchasing options altogether and every game, every movie, every book we own is actually owned by some corp who doesn’t know we exist?
This is unfortunately not anything new, as old video game preservation especially has been a hot topic amongst gamers for quite some time. If you were to look into the emulation of older Nintendo games especially, you’d find that it operates somewhat as a speakeasy due to how seriously Nintendo takes copyright laws into their hands and has become a very vital part of the media preservation movement.
The same goes for many other PS1 and PS2-era games that never made their way to the backwards-compatible streaming service under the Playstation Plus subscription options. While physical copies of these games do exist, they’re all well over 100 U.S. Dollars, making them inaccessible to your average gamer.
Why is this happening?What’s vital to understand here is that this is all very intentional. These companies, these developers, yes, even Platinum Games, who have made some of my favourite games ever, do not want you to own their product. They want your money, certainly, but in the end, they desire the ownership to still belong to them. It’s no mistake that this situation keeps occurring, just as it has for many a mobile user with examples like Dragalia Lost or Tales of Luminaria, and it will keep happening.
The only true counter to this practice of removing games from our libraries is to purchase more things physically, as much as you possibly can. Whether it be a collectors edition or a simple trip to your local game store, your best bet to be sure that you will own whatever it is you’re buying is to hold it in your hands. Not only does it make for a pretty collection, but it means that when whatever digital storefront you purchase it from decides it’s time to bury the game, you’ll still be proudly able to play it as much as you want.
Unfortunately, this plan isn’t infallible, as in the case of World of Demons and the previously two mentioned gacha RPGS, digital-only titles are a lot more messy to get your hands on since physical copies don’t exist. There are a few other ways to get around this, such as APK downloads and even some more slightly shady methods for iOS users that could be worth your time.
While this all may seem very bleak, especially for the mobile industry, it’s important to note that the community around these games are intent on making sure everything stays accessible, even if it requires some under-the-table dealings that circumvent popular storefronts. Media preservation is as important as it has ever been in this new digital era, and it’s up to us as players to make sure we have a say in the ownership of the products we purchase.