The bright promise of streaming and digital stores has given way to a darker reality: we rarely have ownership over the art we love, and much is getting lost in the process. Only a fraction of movies released over the last century are available on streaming services, while a staggering 90 percent of classic video games are considered “critically endangered” by archivists. As these platforms continue to dominate the media landscape, a whole lot of cultural history is being abandoned.

In this special issue, The Verge will explore how physical media factors into this and its importance in keeping art alive and accessible. That could mean boutique publishers releasing beautiful special editions of games and movies, foundations dedicated to preserving the physical history of video games, or musicians releasing their latest albums on floppy discs. We’ll also be looking at some cautionary tales in the shift to subscription services and offering tips on building bookshelf-worthy collections.

Cartridges and discs have been hurtling toward obsolescence — but it turns out, they may be more important than ever.

Send me a message or webmention
Back to feed