I’m not sure if this has been discussed already, nor do I comprehend what is likely the complexities of setting up what i’m about to suggest, but nevertheless, here it goes…
So, a big issue with emulators, modding, hacking, etc is what some might refer to as the grey area in legalities with emulation and roms. As many of you all know, it being a grey area is a myth. Emulators are legal, roms are not. It’s plainly black and white which is why we have seen so many rom sites go down over the years. This year especially and it got me thinking of when this happened in the music industry. Labels and bands fought data sharing hard and had some significant wins but you cannot curb the sharing of data outside total government control of the internet itself. SO… what did we see happen? Instead of punishing the behavior of music piracy, we instead saw monetization of music services like itunes and AmazonMP3 or even subscription services like Spotify. These services became so convenient and gave a higher quality and easily accessible product that it put a huge dent in music piracy. Obviously pirates will always exist but these services saw more money go to the labels and bands.
So the big question is, why isn’t this something that could be applied to Retroarch. It’s certainly the most platform friendly both in the amount of supported cores and the amount of platforms it can be used on (I have it installed on my TV ffs) It’s also one of the most customization and user friendly emulators. It can be linked to external services too like retroachievements.
Surely conditions and contracts can be written up and even if some platforms are slow to agree (Nintendo >_>) some will because they either don’t make platforms or games anymore or are happy to see their old games both preserved and played in the modern age. Eventually you’d end up with a large marketplace of competitively priced legal roms and enough income to put into RND and refine emulator cores and RA itself, and if you didn’t you might even have official code or emulators sent in by cooperating developers.
I know these are lofty goals, but I don’t think it’s impossible. I am sure someone had this same conversation before itunes and Spotify came into existence. I dunno, I thought i’d throw the idea out there. It would not only legitimize Retroarch moreso but also fund it while preserving titles for the unforeseeable future. Hell you could even have a premium subscription deal where you could have users pay $5 a month or something for cloud saves, access to a number of monthly titles or whatever. I’d pay for that.
Now I am sure this would require a stack of contracts and legal documents taller then me 10 times over but I believe this is the future of roms. Particularly older gen platforms and games. You see time and time again 3rd parties releasing collections only to later re-release the same collection on subsequent platforms. The only place these old games don’t require re-releasing again and again is Steam which is highly successful and profitable. Literally tens of millions of users. Legitimizing Retroarch would mean that developers don’t even need to program a game for a platform to re-release it. Just have a clean official rom for sale. You could even link it to Steam somehow and work together with Valve. I dunno, just thought i’d put my thoughts out there anyway. Retroarch is highly successful and I see a lot of potential in its future.