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Thread: Rare Atari Game Leaked

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    Default Rare Atari Game Leaked

    https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/...was-it-stolen/

    But should it have been? Someone’s claiming the ROMS were somehow dumped without permission from the person who owned the machine.

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    I read about that too. If things went down they way they claim then they really had no right to have been dumped and released (yeah yeah, preservation). Just the way it all supposedly happened wasn't cool at all.

    My question though, has the value of rare prototypes ever actually gone down because someone released the ROMs?
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    The arcade game owners claim that they want to keep the value of their machines by not dumping the ROMs. But those things don't last forever. How useful will those arcade games be once the data is lost?

    I don't agree with the dumper's methods if that is how everything played out (some people wonder if the game's owner didn't release the ROM himself secretly, since the technician would have had to bring in a computer and an EPROM burner and done each chip one at a time, which would have taken long enough for the owner to notice) but I'm really grateful that a long-wanted game has finally gotten out of a few game hoarder's hands and can be preserved. There's too many prototypes that collectors hold on to until bitrot destroys them.

    If I found a rare prototype arcade game/console game I'd have no problem with getting somebody to dump it for me. I'd rather have other people happy than hoard something with no real end goal.

    Is the ROM for Akka Arrh in the wild? I did a quick search and couldn't find a download link. I wouldn't mind seeing it for myself.

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    And you'd have to think that the cabinet itself would be pretty valuable and collectible with or without the ROM released. It's pretty unique and cool looking.
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    Akka Arrh is included in the latest version of MAME, released this past Wednesday. It's an interesting game.

    While I feel bad for the owner if such a story is true, I don't think it's a loss for them other than feeling betrayed. The original is still of the same rarity. That's why I'm all for preserving/releasing everything and anything digitally.

    To me, what fun is it being the only person in the world to be able to play a specific game (yah, yah, I know that there are like 3 Akka Arrh's out there). But seriously, what are you going to do? Tell all your buddies about how awesome a game is that only you can play. Invite them over to your place to show off your awesome collection (I don't know about anyone else, but I have friends that are friends. I'm not friends with them to appreciate their shit - those are the type of 'friends' one tends to avoid).

    I agree with Steve W. If I have something that is rare and could be shared digitally (which means, I'm really not losing anything, I still have the original), I would prefer to be able to share the enjoyment of said games with others.

    That's why I'm hoping that maybe the story isn't true and being that there are so few owners, maybe the whole thing is made up out of some sense of paranoia that releasing this game may get the original copyright holder's attention and they're trying to protect themselves (although I highly doubt the copyright holder would invest the time/money to prosecute someone on a 30+ year old game that was never released to begin with and was pretty much thrown out by the company that made it).
    Last edited by Pr3tty F1y; 04-27-2019 at 11:06 AM.

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    welp no use crying over spilled milk.

    but i am kind thinking its some one releasing their rom they had created when they had the game serviced.
    a game that age must have had quite a few roms, and like the article said, it would have taken a lot of time to get through them all and back in before any one noticed

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    I find the story doubtful.
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    It's clearly wrong to steal these prototype games from collectors and spread them on the internet. It's only acceptable to steal prototype games from companies and rights holders and spread them on the internet.

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    I wonder if this was dumped long ago and they only now felt comfortable releasing it as their cabinet had been sold a few times.

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    Easiest way to find out if what you are doing is unethical, illegal, or immoral: if I have to do this in secrecy, it is probably one of those things.

    A lot of gamers feel they are entitled to have anything and everything they want. The best thing you can do is not download the ROM given that it was ill-gotten
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Easiest way to find out if what you are doing is unethical, illegal, or immoral: if I have to do this in secrecy, it is probably one of those things.

    A lot of gamers feel they are entitled to have anything and everything they want. The best thing you can do is not download the ROM given that it was ill-gotten

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    Seriously ! People will download it. Come on, these ROMS are DECADES old! Decades! Nobody cares anymore. The continued hoarding of non-dumped prototype game software continues to baffle me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    Seriously ! People will download it. Come on, these ROMS are DECADES old! Decades! Nobody cares anymore. The continued hoarding of non-dumped prototype game software continues to baffle me.
    If nobody cared, that guy wouldnt be going through 2 months of security footage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    If nobody cared, that guy wouldnt be going through 2 months of security footage.
    Itd be like if I hired someone to work on my arcade machine and while he is there, hes going to start scanning a bunch of copies of some of my vintage game magazines because "they should be shared with the world and preserved." Yeah f**k all that.

    The whole thing about people being mad about "hoarders" just proves my comment correct about gamer entitlement. If you want to play it bad enough, go to the guys free play arcade thing and play it. Just because you cant afford something or werent around when it was released doesnt mean youre entitled to have a free copy.

    Decades, schmecades. I can think of things in museums that are much older. Would it be ok to go to the Smithsonian, steal a mummy, and make an exact replica of it under the pretense of "preservation?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    If nobody cared, that guy wouldnt be going through 2 months of security footage.
    Pretty sure he's mostly referring to the ip rights holder who probably never knew the game even existed, nor does the source code likely exist anymore.

    The collectors argument/fear is that if the ROM was released then it would drive down the cost of the cabinet making it less valuable in their collection, which I seriously doubt is a real concern at all.

    The preservation argument is that eventually this stuff will be public domain anyways but if the only place it exists is in a few ticking-time-bomb-gonna-fail-one-day roms, then the game will be lost forever. And that's actually the more likely scenario... at least it would have been in this case if it wasn't released.

    Even so, the way this all went down, however it really went down, is shady at best.
    Last edited by jb143; 05-04-2019 at 10:31 PM.
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    Are there any actual examples of games being lost?
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Are there any actual examples of games being lost?
    I'm not sure of any specific examples but there are plenty of prototypes that either haven't surfaced or are only in the hands of a collector. The thing with prototypes is that they don't use regular rom chips... they use eprom, or eeprom which simply wasn't designed to last for decades. To use your game magazine example, imagine if you had some rare highly collectable and valuable one of a kind magazine, but it was printed with ink that slowly fades over time until your left with blank paper. THAT is what we're talking about here.

    Now, there are plenty of download only games that you simply cannot play anymore. Even if you still own the system and the game you bought and paid for... but that's more an argument for physical media.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Are there any actual examples of games being lost?
    There is plenty of software, much of which many people would consider obscure, that will never be preserved. I think back to my Atari 800XL/130XE 5.25" floppy collection that I sold at a flea market in the mid-90s. I never thought I'd have use for it again. However, there are a number of pieces of software that I remember regularly using that have not yet been dumped and that I'll never see again.

    There are also more fragile storage mediums like battery-backed ram devices that, once the battery fails, the data is lost. There are also fragile memory storage mechanisms like bubble memory and, to a lesser extent, magnetic floppy media that are prone to data loss.

    Bit rot is also a real phenomenon with ROM chips eventually becoming unreliable. Optical Discs will eventually de-laminate, leaving you with a plastic disc that still has the pits burned into it, but no reflective surface for the laser to bounce off of. To my knowledge, there is no available process to "relaminate" optical discs or otherwise restore the reflective surface.

    It only makes sense to try to backup as much digital media that has value (e.g., games, software, etc. - no one needs my 10th grade report on the English colonies). Digital media lacks physicality in that it's information only. That's why the same goes for uploading digital photographs to a cloud server. By definition, the cloud is redundant. Single copies are at risk for loss with digital copies more so than physical copies (i.e., how many house fires will you have that will destroy your photo albums, CD collections, game collections, etc) compared to the veritable guarantee that digital storage devices will eventually fail in some respect leading to data loss.

    The biggest problem with games, however, is that while some companies release bits and pieces of their libraries, there are many popular games that would otherwise never have a re-release let alone games who's ownership is under question (i.e., who actually owns the rights these days?) or companies/individuals who no longer exist to re-release their software or, for whatever reason, do not want to invest the resources in re-releasing software. Also, due to the cost (at the time) of game development from the earlier days of gaming, source code was often lost or discarded and test cart roms re-written many times to save on cost.

    Digital preservation is just as important as the preservation of other historical artifacts whether you have a personal beef with it or not. Trying to preserve as much of it as possible is the only way to ensure it's continued existence into the future.
    Last edited by Pr3tty F1y; 05-05-2019 at 08:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Itd be like if I hired someone to work on my arcade machine and while he is there, hes going to start scanning a bunch of copies of some of my vintage game magazines because "they should be shared with the world and preserved." Yeah f**k all that.

    The whole thing about people being mad about "hoarders" just proves my comment correct about gamer entitlement. If you want to play it bad enough, go to the guys free play arcade thing and play it. Just because you cant afford something or werent around when it was released doesnt mean youre entitled to have a free copy.

    Decades, schmecades. I can think of things in museums that are much older. Would it be ok to go to the Smithsonian, steal a mummy, and make an exact replica of it under the pretense of "preservation?"
    Dumping the ROM is vastly different from scanning a bunch of magazines.

    You museum analogy is also very backwards, this is more like an archeologist making a copy of the mummy and leaving the original tomb intact, which is the exact opposite of what happened.

    I wonder if there is anything on the security footage, & why he didn't review it before coming forward with this accusation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    If nobody cared, that guy wouldnt be going through 2 months of security footage.
    I've already said I find the story dubious, meaning I doubt anyone is out there reviewing 2 months of footage. An absurd statement to begin with. We're to believe this guy had a tech at his house for the better part of 2 months? Nonsense.

    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    The whole thing about people being mad about "hoarders" just proves my comment correct about gamer entitlement. If you want to play it bad enough, go to the guys free play arcade thing and play it. Just because you cant afford something or werent around when it was released doesnt mean youre entitled to have a free copy.
    It's entitlement for some but not me, I simply don't care. If someone releases the rom, I will check it out. If not, don't bother me with the info because I simply ignore it. What good is a video game ROM that I can't try out? Think of it more of a boycott of my brain cells. In terms of preservation, I find prototype hardware has far more historical and financial value.

    Quote Originally Posted by jb143 View Post
    Pretty sure he's mostly referring to the ip rights holder who probably never knew the game even existed, nor does the source code likely exist anymore.

    The collectors argument/fear is that if the ROM was released then it would drive down the cost of the cabinet making it less valuable in their collection, which I seriously doubt is a real concern at all.
    True on both accounts, most gamers (as well as the IP holders) do not care about what happens to ancient roms. At one time, I do believe that a prototype that wasn't released on-line did have a higher value. However, at this point and time, is that still the case? I highly doubt it. We're talking about stuff that is 35+ years old, and there's barely interest in the games themselves let alone such a vibrant marketplace for prototypes. It's an incredible small niche, particularly of those who spend big $$ to hold them. More often than not, the Lost Levels or Nintendo Ages of the Web are buying them and dumping the roms. Those of that older generation are sadly growing older and older, and at some point, who will still care about these games unless they are out there to play?

    Quote Originally Posted by gbpxl View Post
    Are there any actual examples of games being lost?
    Absolutely, although that's often been cases where the original programmer tossed his/her floppies eons ago.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    At one time, I do believe that a prototype that wasn't released on-line did have a higher value. However, at this point and time, is that still the case?
    It's a bit different with prototype console games than arcade games. With a basic cartridge that you just want to play the game with, you could just make your own repro cart to play the game and there's not too much difference in practical experience in playing it. I could see not wanting to pay too much to own a prototype that's already widely available to play elsewhere, there's an appeal to owning something not available anywhere else so some people would pay more for it.

    With an arcade game where the legit copies are full cabinets with custom controls, the main value is with the entire cabinet rather than with the game code. To even own an arcade game you need to have enough room to store it, and if you only have space for a select few cabinets, is this the game you'd want to dedicate space for? There's a much more limited group of collectors who would want to buy arcade prototypes compared to console prototypes, I doubt that this being leaked would really affect the demand or value too much as the people who wanted it previously would probably still want it now. Unless the game really sucks to play and now potential buyers know it sucks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    It's a bit different with prototype console games than arcade games. With a basic cartridge that you just want to play the game with, you could just make your own repro cart to play the game and there's not too much difference in practical experience in playing it. I could see not wanting to pay too much to own a prototype that's already widely available to play elsewhere, there's an appeal to owning something not available anywhere else so some people would pay more for it.

    With an arcade game where the legit copies are full cabinets with custom controls, the main value is with the entire cabinet rather than with the game code. To even own an arcade game you need to have enough room to store it, and if you only have space for a select few cabinets, is this the game you'd want to dedicate space for? There's a much more limited group of collectors who would want to buy arcade prototypes compared to console prototypes, I doubt that this being leaked would really affect the demand or value too much as the people who wanted it previously would probably still want it now. Unless the game really sucks to play and now potential buyers know it sucks.
    I agree, the hardware is where the money is. That being said, many arcade proto collectors are simply too fearful of damaging the machines in some cases. Then again, the infamous Marble Man saga has largely come down to a couple of incredibly gruff individuals who worked at Atari. It's not a money thing either, they just don't want to work with anyone. I find that in 2019, the value attached to a prototype is really about who wrote it, what IP it covers, and how scarce it is rather than was it dumped.
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    But if/when the roms do fail, they do realize that unless they were dumped, then they are out of luck right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by jb143 View Post
    But if/when the roms do fail, they do realize that unless they were dumped, then they are out of luck right?
    I think part of the problem with this whole discussion is that preservation and dumping are distinct from public release. The roms for the game that was just "leaked" have been dumped for a long time from at least two different sets of chips. Just because someone doesn't want their prototype shared with the public doesn't mean they haven't dumped it. I know several wealthy collectors with one-of-a-kind arcade boards and they have definitely made multiple rom dumps and safely stored them in redundant off-site backups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    I agree, the hardware is where the money is. That being said, many arcade proto collectors are simply too fearful of damaging the machines in some cases. Then again, the infamous Marble Man saga has largely come down to a couple of incredibly gruff individuals who worked at Atari. It's not a money thing either, they just don't want to work with anyone. I find that in 2019, the value attached to a prototype is really about who wrote it, what IP it covers, and how scarce it is rather than was it dumped.
    That's really not accurate from what I have seen. There is a certain small group of wealthy collectors who value exclusivity as part of the financial calculation when buying or selling prototype hardware, including arcade machines. I've contributed to rom dump funds where some one-of-a-kind boards have been purchased and dumped and made available to the public and it's very clear that when someone has something unique, the price goes up exponentially. Although the hardware maintains some value, it's nowhere near where it was before the unique software was dumped and distributed widely.

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