Without any announcement from Nintendo of an official offline version or archive to memorialize the game after servers shut down and the game is no longer accessible to the public, fans are working across the community to preserve everything they can of a game they dedicated themselves to over the last few years. “Especially with games like Dragalia Lost and games that are on a live server and stuff, once the server closes down, you can’t play that anymore,” explains Sei, an active member of the game’s community. “It’s not like you can download a ROM of a Game Boy game and play it: once it’s gone, it’s gone.” Free-to-play games have risen from an anomaly to the most profitable sector of the games industry. In 2012, the mobile games market hit $9 billion in revenue at a time when free-to-play revenue systems were only starting to grow more popular, challenging the norm of games charging a one-time price of entry.
At the same time, free-to-play revenue on PC was at an impressive $11 billion, thanks to titles like League of Legends, already eclipsing the revenue earned by premium titles. By 2020, free-to-play revenue across mobile, PC, and console accounted for over $96 billion. Unsurprisingly, the industry has adapted to increasingly cater to players in this bustling sector. Yet, for every headline boasting of the phenomenal revenue-generating success of titles like Fortnite or Pokemon Go comes a host of titles that burn out within a year or sometimes even less. Japan is one of the biggest regions for free-to-play games, particularly on mobile, where titles like Uma Musume: Pretty Derby have broken into the top 10 highest-grossing mobile games worldwide despite only being available in a single country. Yet, even games based on major properties like Bandai Namco’s Tales of Luminaria have struggled, shutting down in under six months.
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