Talking Point: The Argument For And Against Retro Flash Carts
Posted by Damien McFerran
Preserving the past, or exploiting it?
As technology has advanced over the years, we've seen massive strides being taken in the realm of retro gaming, and one of the most important events to occur recently is the emergence of flash carts that allow gamers to potentially store every single game ever made for a single platform on an SD card and run them directly from a single cartridge.
A cottage industry has risen up around these devices, which are produced in small quantities and sold by a select few online stores around the globe. With prices which more often than not push into the hundreds of dollars, these bespoke carts are hardly what you could call a mass-produced item with massive market penetration — nor are they something which will appeal to the larger sector of video gamers. They are aimed at a very small number of players.
Even so, the purpose of such carts is obvious — to play ROMs on original hardware. Many of the ROMs which players will download and load onto these carts will be protected by copyright and will be available in some shape or form elsewhere, such as on the Wii U or 3DS Virtual Consoles. In that regard, these carts are clearly allowing individuals to play titles for free that they should actually be paying money for.
On the other hand, there are games out there that are not currently available in any form other than the original cartridge, and won't ever be available again for a number of reasons — the publisher going out of business or a licence expiring over the years — and these flash carts are a way of preserving such games.
While it's tempting to jump to conclusions either way on this thorny topic, it's probably more of a grey area than you at first think. With that in mind, we're making this Talking Point a little different, as in it will have actual talking. Digest the footage below and then let us know what you think by voting in the poll and leaving a comment. However, please remember to follow our Community Rules regarding the discussing of ROMs — please don't share links to ROMs or sites which actively distribute ROMs.
What is your opinion of retro flash carts? (288 votes)
I think they allow players to break the law and should be banned
I think they are a vital way of preserving the history of our hobby
I disagree with the distribution of ROMs, but agree that such devices are useful in certain situations
I don't agree with them, but they're such a niche product that it's not worth taking action against them
I don't have an opinion either way
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