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Video Game Dictionary - Abandonware


IPA /əˈbændənweə/


Abandonware is a term used mostly within PC gaming. Abandonware is a term defining a piece of software that has, aptly, been abandoned by the original developer with no continuing official support.

There are various organizations who chronicle abandonware, hoping to preserve the software in some form for future generations.

There are many forms of Abandonware. The first definition is commercial software that is no longer supported but was created by a still existing company. This definition is in some ways the trickiest for chroniclers as availability depends on the companies approach to their legacy software. Some are happy for these to be shared, while others may wish to preserve the right for distribution.

The second definition is unsupported software by companies who no longer exist. The rights to these pieces of software can sometimes be purchased by other companies. Other times these rights are non-recoverable.

The last major definition is shareware that the creator still makes available. These can simply be defunct versions of software where modern versions have made the old versions obsolete.

Availability of abandonware is always subject to IP rights. The most famous of these currently is the Internet Archive which chronicles media of many different industries, in many different formats.

Example usage

“Oh, that game’s basically abandonware now, there’s been no updates in years.”

“There’s this old abandonware game I love, it’s available on the Internet Archive.”

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