Lost to the wind
I was never really that bothered about playing the Infinity Blade games on iOS… until I discovered that I now may never be able to.
Epic, best known as the company behind Fortnite, has withdrawn the three Infinity Blade titles from the App Store. The reason given? “It has become increasingly difficult for our team to support the Infinity Blade series at a level that meets our standards.”
Set aside Infinity Blade and my natural FOMO at losing my chance to play three games that were apparently very good. The bigger picture here is it’s a reminder of just how fragile digital products are.
Existing Infinity Blade players will still be able to re-download the games. But for anyone else, it’s like they’ve been wiped from existence.
If you want to play old Super Nintendo games that aren’t available digitally, you can always track down a physical cartridge and play it on new third-party hardware
. If a physical album or movie is withdrawn from sale, the second hand market is similarly your friend.
With digital goods, when they’re gone, they’re gone. I suspect we’ll see more of this problem in the future as real gems that are only available on streaming platforms (Spotify, Netflix, YouTube, etc) are withdrawn, or the platforms shut down. And the original creators may have no motive to reissue them somewhere new. All that creative effort – lost forever.
In a world of abundant storage, it seems insane to consider that we may lose a huge chunk of human creative endeavour to the wind. Platforms and curators need to think carefully about longterm archiving. If they don’t, we’ll regret it in decades to come.