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    General 
  • In July 2023, an academic study revealed that 87 percent of all video games released before 2010 are "critically endangered", which means they're out of print and no longer digitally available.
  • Whenever a publisher or developer goes out of business, its games get caught in copyright limbo unless someone acquires the rights. This software is called abandonware.
    • While Abandonware technically is a general software term, the vast majority of cases where people actually care are video games (due to the entertainment value inherent in said software), since nobody is going to download an obsolete version of Microsoft Word when an open-source client like LibreOffice or Apache OpenOffice can be legally downloaded and redistributed (e.g., over BitTorrent) at no charge. The basic premise of the concept is this trope: Software that is 'abandoned' (unsupported and undistributed by the right-owners, if who owns the rights is even known) isn't morally wrong to put up for download (the modern day equivalent of circulating the tapes, so to speak).
  • A lot of arcade games fall under this. While a good fraction of them have had ports, some ports range anywhere from being good but not one-to-one to outright Porting Disasters. The only other legal option in these cases is to acquire the original hardware, which is costly and not designed for consumer purchase; 100 USD for a board is considered cheap. Even then you'll still need a way of playing them, whether it be a cabinet (easily available but still expensive) or a "supergun" device to bypass the need for a cabinet. Finally, with the severe decline of arcades outside of Japan discouraging developers from exporting their games and the advent of mechanisms that shut out arcade importers, such as arcade digital distribution platforms such as NESiCAxLive, Japanese arcade developers limiting their games to lease-only rather than outright selling the machines, and always-online DRM (often requiring the arcade to register their machines and pay subscription fees), it is becoming harder if not outright impossible for arcade fans to legally acquire and play games through any means even if they have the money, leaving travelling to Japan the only option. If you're lucky, some of these games may get exported...to select parts of East and Southeast Asia...and may suffer anywhere from limited online infrastructure to outright Bad Export for You.
    • The entire aim of the MAME project is to preserve such games and keep them from vanishing forever. Unfortunately while the program itself is legal, it's debatable whether or not the ROMs for the games themselves are.
    • Some arcade games have gimmicks that are difficult, expensive, or outright impossible to fully replicate at home, even with emulation, which is why a number of arcade games have ports that deviate from the original version or simply don't have ports at all. Some examples:
      • Four games in the Darius series—Darius, Darius II, Dariusburst Another Chronicle, and Dariusburst Another Chronicle EX—have multi-monitor setups. The former two have ports that use more standard aspect ratios, while the latter two are adaptations of the PSP game Dariusburst anyway.
      • Galaxian^3 was a theme park attraction in Japan with a 360-degree display and a massive 28-player setup, and closed down in 2000. The arcade version is a bit better, with two monitors and a six-player setup, and while a port exists, it can only take up to four players.
  • Doujin games are exceedingly difficult to find outside of Japan (or even in Japan, unless you know where to go); while doujin manga usually only has a niche market, doujin games are usually quite popular. Pressing CDs, however, is expensive, so not very many copies are made at a time. While the games usually only sell for about 1,000 Yen (a little over $10 USD), the limited print run means it can be difficult to find any copies after the fact. Some doujin titles get digital re-releases, but usually on Japanese-native sites like Playism and DLsite. In recent years, however, a small but growing number of publishers has made an effort of localizing such games through platforms such as Steam, as well as Playism and DLsite receiving international versions of their websites, though their catalog of games may not be as large as their Japanese counterparts.
  • The rise of Downloadable Content has been both a blessing and curse for many gamers. While it has resulted in modular content being delivered more easily to players, it can also result in DLC that vanishes into the ether and can't be bought anywhere if the licensing rights are pulled or the game is removed from digital distributors. Likewise, many pieces of DLC offered through limited-time giveaways, pre-ordering or other promotions can be rendered inaccessible (and unable to be used unless one has a code from the time the giveaway was running or a Steam gift) after the fact. If a game is lucky (ie: sold well enough), it often gets a rerelease with all the DLC on-disc and not locked behind a paywall that can vanish, which is a minor consolation.
    • This is the primary concern of "digital-only" consoles that do not feature disc/cartridge slots and can only run downloaded games; with the fate of the PSP Go system in particular (one of the earliest mainstream examples of a digital-only console) pointed to as the eventual outcome. Anything that was no longer hosted on the PlayStation Store became unattainable for the system when it was still active; and access to PlayStation Store from the PSP was disabled in all territories in 2016. This means that outside of previously purchased content in your download list, obtaining any digital content for the PSP Go system is now [legally] impossible.
  • Virtually every Licensed Game, due to the publishers and/or developers either no longer existing or no longer having the licenses.
  • Most pre-smartphone mobile phone games are unavailable nowadays. There have been some efforts to port a selection of these to newer platforms, such as with the G-Mode Archives series, but only a handful of such games get this treatment. What's worse is that these ecosystems are very poorly preserved — a combination of the games being download-only, the difficulty of getting the games off the phones, and of few people caring about preserving them until well after smartphones became commonplace means that large swathes of these games are essentially impossible to play unless you happened to install them while they were available.
  • While not exactly a game in the strictest sense; mods, scenarios, and other custom content can become outright impossible to obtain if the website or FTP server hosting them closes down. Thankfully, mirrors exist for this purpose, but there is still lost content out there that hasn't been mirrored.
  • Online Games are becoming victims of this due to their servers being shut down. Though many private servers exist to keep these games alive, it is usually done by reverse engineering the server software from scratch, and they're often subject to being shut down by the game developers.
    • Older Web Games are becoming harder to find due to their respective websites no longer hosting the game or no longer existing entirely. Though there are third-party websites that still host some of these games, they are often scams or blocked via paywalls.
    • With the discontinuation of Adobe Flash in 2020note , many games based in Flash are no longer playable without specially modified browsers or programs that have them archived like BlueMaxima's Flashpoint.
  • PC games in general fall into this, especially pre-2000s games. Games are known to quickly become incompatible with newer systems and can be rare to find. GOG.com is attempting to avert this, but even they can only do so much as they don't have the source code for the games they are "upgrading," meaning all compatibility fixes must be done by reverse engineering. The only exception is if the game is a DOS game or an MSX game, in which case DOSBox or another specific emulator (such as blueMSX for MSX games) is used instead.
  • Pretty much the entire point of ROMs and emulators. Old games that are no longer in print (usually anything that's at least two hardware generations old and earlier) are uploaded onto the Internet for everyone to play. The big game companies did force a cease and desist order on various web sites that were caught distributing the games, but many others still host them, new ones crop up all the time like a beheaded hydra, and the emulation community is so firmly ingrained into internet culture now (especially with Speed Runners and Game Modders) that it will never be stopped completely. This caused the creation of services from the major game companies that lets people download old games at a price, such as Nintendo's Virtual Console, Sony's PlayStation Network, and Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade, as well as microconsoles made to look like miniature replicas of the original hardware which have a pre-installed selection of games like the NES and SNES Classic, the PlayStation Classic, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Mini, and more.
  • Just about any Unlicensed Game is this, mostly due to either copyright issues (in most cases, being based off a property they didn't get the rights to make a game out of), being based off controversial material, the bankruptcy of a company, or simply because they aren't interested, or hate it.
  • Some video game developers can also choose to disable purchases for the vanilla versions of their games in order to entice or "force" the gamer into purchasing the Updated Re-release version instead. In online distribution platforms, it's also possible for the vanilla versions to just disappear in search results, and if the user somehow manages to find an existing page for the older game, the developer usually provides a link to the new version. While this is a great tactic to market the new version, it becomes detrimental to the specific subset of gamers who just wanted to try the "classic" version, or simply wanted to compare what was changed or added between the old and new.

    Activision Blizzard 
  • Activision is infamous for picking up and then dumping licenses, largely because of a decision in 2013 to move away from the licensed game market due to underwhelming sales for several franchises. This resulted in many titles being pulled from circulation, with the only way to get them now being through second-hand copies or an increasingly dwindling number of Steam copies. These include:
  • Blizzard Entertainment games:
    • Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, the only adventure game in the Warcraft series which was heavily inspired by LucasArts classics, is a particularly noteworthy case. Just before the release, the game was cancelled in 1998, but the pre-release version was leaked online by one of the former devs in 2016. Blizzard took action to replug the leak, but it's still available for download on the Web.
    • World of Warcraft: Players who want to keep playing specific older expansions with the gameplay as it was and not overlayed by the most recent expansions often turn to private "Blizzard-like" servers (though the more recent an expansion is the harder it is to have good coding/scripting on them). The Classic re-releases are happening partly as a response to this. Beginning with September 2022, Burning Crusade Classic servers were all updated to Wrath of the Lich King Classic upon the latter's launch due to a lack of players, meaning if one wants to play that Expansion Pack again, one will have to turn to private servers.
    • Much to the chagrin of fans, Blizzard not only pulled the original version of Warcraft III and its Expansion Pack The Frozen Throne from Battle.net to make way for the poorly-received Reforged remaster but also made it so that anyone who owned the original and bought the remaster would have their old copy's files deleted and replaced with the newer one. As a result, fans have made sure to circulate digital copies of the original version of the game via file-sharing sites.
  • All of Guitar Hero's DLC was removed in 2014, and Guitar Hero Live's GHTV mode shut down at the end of 2018.
  • Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD was pulled from Steam in 2017, making it unavailable for PC players (console ones can seek used PS3 and 360 copies). Not that they would want to try it, as three years later HD was effectively supplanted by a better Video Game Remake, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2.
    • The iOS port of Pro Skater 2, which replaced most of the licensed music, was also delisted in the late 2010's.

    Atari 
  • The Atari 2600 has this a lot. While it doesn't go for every title on the system, this generally goes for even some popular titles. Several homebrew titles on this system count. The titles released by Eblivision are sadly this despite being some of the 1st Atari 2600 homebrew games ever made.
  • Acid Drop by Salu is the last Atari 2600 game released in the console's lifespan being released in 1992. It is now a novelty item among collectors.
  • Air Raid is INFAMOUS for this trope. Very few copies are known to exist of this game, so the best way to play it is through emulation.
  • Alien's Return has become this as well, but thankfully it doesn't go for all versions though.
  • Around the World by Home Vision. The game was seen in an ad in a magazine in Germany, but no copies of the game have surfaced at all. Ditto for other Home Vision games like Arena Fight, Play Farm, Sharp Wold, among others, and even the ones that have been found are very rare.
  • Assault by Bomb, a hack of Sky Alien by Home Vision is something of a collector's item to some people because of this trope.
  • Atom Smasher on the Atari 2600 was left unreleased until a reproduction of it was released in 2010. Even with that, your best bet of playing the game is downloading the ROM.
  • The Backyard Sports series has been out of print for years, likely because the pros have long since retired, and the last-known rightsholder (Day 6 Sports Group) said that it would be too expensive ro re-license those players. However, ROMs of the old games are still easy to find.
    • The 2015 mobile reboot, from Day 6 Sports Group, Krome Studios, and Fingerprint Digital, was taken down when Day 6 was sold to a European investment company.
  • Bermuda is a hack of River Raid is becoming this, albeit a little slowly.
  • The original release of Challenge which is not to be confused with Challenge... of Nexar is exceedingly rare. It's so rare that the ROM for it hasn't been dumped as of this time.
  • The homebrew port of Colony 7 has long since been out of print, so you better start going through flea markets to find a copy.
  • Condor Attack may as well be in this trope too. The Funvision cartridges don't help in any way sadly.
  • Almost all copier carts have become this, including, but not limited to:
    • Vidco's Copy Cart that normally contains Dishaster with it for North America, and I Want My Mommy for Europe and Australia.
    • The Copy Game by VGS.
    • JS&A Group released the Prom Blaster (which has a rather weird title).
    • Home Vision had the Repro Cart that came with Robot Fight.
  • There's a game on this console called Cosmic, but no info on it even exists online AT ALL. Only a cartridge is known to exist.
  • CQ has an unknown game that was released in Argentina. What makes it unknown is that the cartridge doesn't show any names, and no ROMs of it are floating around.
  • Criminal Persuit is surely going into this trope by now.
  • Deadly Prison is an Atari 2600 game by Eram. Too bad we don't know anything about its existence other than that.
  • Edtris 2600 has become this for quite some time.
  • Eli's Ladder by Simage has this as the literal reason why it's well known towards the Atari 2600 community.
  • You'd be pretty darn lucky to find a print of Enduro under the name of Emdurl.
    • Heck, just about any unlicensed copies of games on this system come as this thanks to copies not selling that much.
  • Enigma Machine is a homebrew game that has somehow fallen into this category as well.
  • Fire Spinner was cancelled by Vidco, but was unofficially released in Europe by Suntek as Firebug. Those copies are extremely hard to find now-in-days.
  • Sancho released Forest in 1983; it was later re-released by Hot Shot. So far, no other versions seem to even exist.
  • FROB-26 was a development tool that you could plug into your Apple ][ and turn it into a computer to develop Atari 2600 games. Almost no info on it exists online, and no ROM of it is even around.
  • Frog Pond had a reproduction released several years after it was shelved. They're very rare however, so ROMs are your best chance of playing it.
  • Galactic, a hack of Challenge... of Nexar, is becoming this too.
  • Galinha is a game that only works on machines by Bit Electronica despite essentially being an Atari 2600 game. The ROM for it so far hasn't circulated.
  • The GameLine Master Module. Even then, the ROM doesn't work properly.
  • Graz2004 only had 10 copies made, so finding one will make you extremely lucky.
  • Still have your copy of Guardian by Apollo? Well, keep it because it has become hard to find!
  • Hunter is supposedly a game by Conectivision. However, there's no ROM of it. No, seriously, we mean it.
  • There was a homebrew game called I Project which is now-in-days super rare. You gotta be lucky to even find a cartridge of it!
  • Not all Imagic titles have been re-released, including Quick Step, Wing War, and the most infamous of them all, Atlantis II. Sky Patrol had a limited number of them made before it was ultimately shelved.
  • Oh boy, Karate, or at least the original releases by Ultravision.
  • The two games for the Kid Vid controller which came with audiotapes and synced the action with the console. Smurfs Save the Day was included with the cassette player while Berenstain Bears was sold separately.
  • Land Protection by Funvision is this. No ROMs of it even exist!
  • Landing Battle is this too!
  • Lochjaw, later on as Shark Attack has this badly.
  • There's a different Atari 2600 port of Looping by Splice released in Brazil. No ROM of it has circulated though, so it's a mystery.
  • Commavid strikes back with the Magicard. This isn't really a game, but rather a programming tool that was only available through mail order. It did not come with a box, but there was a manual for it.
  • Spectravision unfortunately has gone to this again with Master Builder.
  • The Megaboy cartridge that came with the Megaboy portable 2600 clone by Dynacom is most certainly this.
    • Speaking of which, that portable clone console ITSELF is extremely rare, even in Brazil!
  • Suntek and Rainbow Vision released a game called Mid-Time, but that's all we know. No ROMs are available, and we so far only have one image of it which is from a Suntek print.
  • Miki Dog is quite mysterious, especially with no ROM of it anywhere.
  • Missile Control is a combination of games released by Video Gems. The game hasn't gotten re-released that much, so good luck finding it physically.
  • About WAY TOO MANY multicarts on the system have become this. The worst part is that it has happened to multicarts on other consoles too.
  • Pepsi Invaders was only given to Atlanta employees who worked at Coca-Cola, so this one is certainly an obvious one. It's surprising we even have the ROM for this one.
  • Want one of those copies of Princess Rescue? Good luck, as they stopped due to copyright complaints.
  • Pyramid War, a Chopper Command hack is this as well, albeit for the European/Australian version.
  • Q-Bert's Qubes was only sold in Sears and Hills department stores.
  • Qb has this with its original print run.
  • Rescue Terra I has become this, too.
  • Tigervision has one with River Patrol, which is a port of an arcade game.
  • A hack of River Raid called River Raid II, not to be confused with the real one, is currently in this state.
  • Funvision has another unknown game called Sailer.
  • If you want to go for Scuba Diver, may as well not look for the Zellers print. THOSE are just too rare.
  • Seal To Whales is so rare that no ROM of it is even out there!
  • The Signal Tracing Cartridge is this too thanks to it not being available on store shelves.
  • A hack of Missile Command known as Space Robot is definitely this.
  • Space Tunnel, or as it was released in English by ZiMAG, ''Cosmic Corridors'' has taken this leap somewhat when it comes to finding the original European/Australian version. That's not mentioning the fact that ZiMAG doesn't even mention it.
  • "Stell-a-Sketch/Okie Dokie'' has become this too, especially the CD prints. The creators of the Etch-A-Sketch had something to do with this.
  • Commavid adds another one of these into this trope with Stronghold.
  • Swords of Saros by Starpath has become this too. Ditto for Survival Island. Both of these were made for the Starpath Charger that makes the Atari 2600 more powerful with its games running on cassettes. The add-on could be why.
  • This Planet Sucks is a homebrew in this category of rarity as well.
  • Mail order-only game Tooth Protectors is a game from Johnson and Johnson, which easily screams this trope.
  • Funvision released a compilation of games called Tripleplay! Package in 1983, but so far that one hasn't surfaced aside from one copy.
  • Trying to find Tuby Bird, a hack of Dolphin? Good luck.
  • Vong has become this too.
  • Walker by Suntek is so much of this that no copies of the game have even surfaced with the sole exception of a ROM of it.
  • Whale Hunter is this, along with no ROM floating around.
  • X'Mission, or UFO Patrol on Suntek prints, is this too.

    Capcom 
  • The Chaos Legion video game is another among Capcom's licensed games with a cult following, however, due to the game's lackluster reception and the PC port of the game bombing thanks to its broken copy protection with earlier copies until it was recalled and patched, among other problems with the PC port, the game hasn't been re-released elsewhere for almost two decades. Thankfully, second-hand copies of the game on PlayStation 2 and PC usually go around ~$20 depending on completeness, and the copy protection issues on the PC port can be circumvented (the other issues with the PC port, however, will require unofficial fixes to workaround them).
  • Mega Man Legends 2 is a cult classic among the fanbase. The first game isn't too difficult to find — a good near-mint copy will usually run in the $10-30 range on Ebay. This includes the disc, instruction manual, and jewel case in immaculate condition. The same quality for a copy of Legends 2 will run you no less than $50, with most copies being over $100. Ebay is pretty much the best hope of finding the game at this point. That said, the game can still be purchased digitally via the PlayStation 3’s PSN Store for 10 bucks.
  • P.N.03 is the only one of Capcom's "Capcom 5" initiative that remains exclusive to the GameCube they were originally made for (plus the original Wii via backwards compatibility), and due to its relatively poor critical and commercial reception, is unlikely to see a re-release or remaster.
  • Rival Schools and its sequel Project Justice have never seen official re-releases beyond their initial ports to the PlayStation and Dreamcast respectively (although the first game was available on the PlayStation Network in Japan only), making them hard to play legally. And then there's the updated PlayStation version of the first game which, again, only released in Japan.

    Electronic Arts 
  • NBA Elite 11, the aborted refresh of EA's NBA Live series, stands as one of the most incredible examples of hard-to-obtain games. The game was set for release for PS3 and Xbox 360 in late 2010, but was delayed at the 11th hour after the game's demo was widely panned for its embarrassingly slipshod state and was later ultimately cancelled. However, PS3 copies of a (more) complete build of the game were sent out in advance to retail stores before the recall. The very few copies that were sold, instead of returned to EA for destruction, were subsequently scooped up as extraordinarily elusive collector's items: any legitimate copy of the game that surfaces online is typically offered for thousands of dollars.
  • The Neverhood has been MIA since the mid-Nineties and copies are quite scarce. This statement has mentioned that a re-release on mobile platforms is in the works... if Electronic Arts (the current rights holder) collaborates, which has not been the case. EA apparently doesn't recognize the profits of releasing the Cult Classic on Steam either.
  • The Sims:
    • The Sims has never been released on any digital platform, not even EA's own Origin. A Compilation Rerelease of the game and all of its expansions was released, but it is long out of print. Compounding matters is the fact that its SafeDisc DRM is incompatible with modern Windows and must be cracked.
    • The Sims 2 is not as bad as its predecessor, as it did get released on Origin, even getting a Compilation Rerelease there. Unfortunately, that compilation was removed in August 2014 with no indication of returning. There is another Mac-only Compilation Rerelease that is still available on the Mac App Store, but it's missing two expansions.
  • The Space Hulk video game and its sequel Vengeance of the Blood Angels has never seen a re-release or ports to newer platforms since their original print runs, nor has the PC versions been re-released through GOG.com. Second-hand copies of the DOS version of the first game can be found for relatively affordable prices, but a complete copy of the Amiga version can cost as much as a modern AAA game. Vengeance of the Blood Angels is in a similar situation, but that is to say nothing about its Sega Saturn port which can cost upwards of $60 used and $700 brand new.
  • While it was positively received by both fans and critics alike, TimeSplitters Future Perfect had rather poor sales and as such, copies of it online (or its predecessors) will cost a pretty penny. The game's developer, Free Radical Design, faced financial troubles and is now defunct which made any chance of a re-release impossible. Through a series of acquisitions, the TimeSplitters landed in the hands of THQ Nordic.

    Konami 
  • Many of Konami's late 1980s and early 1990s arcade games, such as Ajax, Gaiapolis (not counting the pirated Famicom version), Hexion, and Lightning Fighters/Trigon, never received consumer ports, and most of their post-1987 material has never seen compilation rereleases either, so good luck finding a machine unless you decide to commit piracy and emulate. Quite a fair of amount of them were available on Game Roomnote , but they all lapsed into this state when Game Room was discontinued, leaving your best option for these games to make a homemade arcade machine and finding the ROMs to put on it. Fortunately, Ajax at least has finally seen a re-release in Konami's Arcade Classics Anniversary Collection.
  • BeatStream, unlike other BEMANI games that have been discontinued, required a connection to the eAMUSEMENT server to start up, and additionally did not get an offline-enabling update like DanceEvolution Arcade and Miraidagakki FutureTomTom did. The game was taken off the network on September 1st, 2017, effectively disappearing from the face of the planet.
  • The ReBirth series; a series of three Retraux games covering the Contra, Castlevania and Gradius franchises retrospectively, was only released digitally on the WiiWare service, which has since shut down.
  • Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3's original releases are both effectively in limbo. While both games received a remaster for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 through the Silent Hill HD Collection, said collection is infamous for being a severe Porting Disaster that is widely considered vastly inferior to the original versions. As such, many fans instead opt to either track down increasingly expensive copies of the originals or resort to piracy. The PC version of 2 is particularly rare, with copies often going for well over a hundred dollars due to never receiving a digital re-release. To make matters worse, the source codes for the games are presumed to be lost, resulting in the HD Collection instead using inferior betas of the games, making the chances of a proper re-release highly unlikely. The PC version of Silent Hill 3 will also set one back a small fortune, at at least $100 a pop for in-box copies. Silent Hill 4: The Room, though, is available for PC on GOG.com.
  • Konami and Hideo Kojima had a major falling out that resulted in the cancellation of Kojima's Silent Hills project. While Silent Hills was still in development, Konami released a widely acclaimed demo exclusively on PS4, called P.T. (Playable Teaser). Instead of simply delisting the game from the PlayStation Store (preventing new purchases), Konami took the unprecedented step of removing P.T. from the PSN servers altogether, so any of the game's owners were unable to redownload P.T. if they had deleted it from their system. A few enterprising fans began selling used PS4s with working copies of P.T. for inflated prices, and some developed a complicated method of using a proxy server to get the game back. And on the off-chance any owners wanted to transfer their copy to their PS5 a few years later, Konami made to sure to request that P.T. be made exempt from the console's backward compatibility feature.
  • Hideo Kojima half-admitted that the reason why any version of his seminal visual novel Snatcher hasn't been released on digital distribution services yet (even though stuff like Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and Castlevania: Rondo of Blood had been released already) is due to the fact that the game's imagery and its numerous visual nods to Blade Runner and Terminator almost border on copyright infringement, making it hard to re-release without heavy alterations. It's not much of an issue in Japan, where the PC Engine version is common to find on the second-hand market, but English-speaking players who want to experience the game have no choice but to pay ridiculously high prices for the English-only Sega CD version on eBay or illegally download it off the internet. Then after the Kojima fallout, Konami pulled a big monkey's paw on that last demographic in 2020: The PC Engine version was released on all three regional models of the PC Engine Mini without any alteration... and by "without any alteration", on the American and European models of the Mini this means "no translation whatsoever".
  • A handful of Konami's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video games are unavailable legally due to Konami having dropped the TMNT license in 2007. The first NES game was available on the Virtual Console for around five years before it was dropped from the store after the license expired. This is averted with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time: the former is available in Xbox Live Arcade and in 2019 (the franchise's 35th anniversary year), Arcade1Up got the OK from both Konami and Nickelodeon to rerelease the two arcade games on home arcade cabinets. This was finally averted thanks to The Cowabunga Collection which includes all of the console and arcade games up to the The 16 Bit Era Of Console Video Games (the only game from the era not included is the fairly obscure PC-exclusive Manhattan Missions, which should not be confused with the similarly titled third NES game.)
  • All of the main Tokimeki Memorial games are out of print. As a result, they tend to be sold at high prices on Amazon and other retailers, locking out players who started with the new generation of games unless they use emulators or have a friend willing to loan them a copy. While the first and second TokiMemo games are available on the PlayStation Network and the original release of TokiMemo is available on the PC Engine Mini as of 2020, the wallets of those without a PlayStation 3, a PlayStation Portable, a Play Station Vita, a PC Engine Mini or who would rather play the games on their original systems are in for a rough time.

    LucasArts 
  • LucasArts's old Adventure Games suffered from this for quite a bit. The fact that the company was sold to and closed down by the hands of Disney didn't seem to help matters. However, in October 2014, Disney signed on with GOG.com, and thus this list is steadily shrinking.
    • Labyrinth, LucasArts' first adventure game, is so rare that many did not know of its existence until it became possible to look it up online, although this game is more of a text adventure with graphics.
    • The original EGA version of Loom has never seen a re-release. The CD talkie version is available on GOG and Steam, but most fans consider it inferior to the EGA version due to heavily cutting down the dialogue, removing any instances of background music outside of cutscenes, and having a reworked aesthetic that most people consider weaker to the original. Brian Moriarity himself prefers the EGA version as well.

    Nintendo 

General

  • Anything that was distributed via the Super Famicom's Satellaview broadcast system. Even if you manage to track down ROMs of the broadcast games, they're almost certainly incomplete — the streamed audio and voice acting were not saved with the rest of the game, so a very sizable portion of the games' contents are quite possibly lost forever, with some edge cases (e.g., one team restored the audio of The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets but the audio came from a VHS recording of the gameplay that surfaced on the web at some point, meaning the audio includes overlapping sound effects from the playthrough). To date, the only Satellaview games which have been officially remade or re-released in any form are the Fire Emblem ones, remade and included as bonus missions in New Mystery of the Emblem, and Radical Dreamers, which is included in the 2022 HD remaster of Chrono Cross, known as The Radical Dreamers Edition.
  • The VHS promotional tapes that were given out to Nintendo Power subscribers in the mid-1990s. The tapes promoted the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, and games like Donkey Kong Country, Star Fox 64, Diddy Kong Racing, Banjo-Kazooie, and early Pokémon games, as well as gave interesting behind-the-scenes looks at the making of these games. With the advent of DVD, the practice simply stopped after one release advertising the GameCube, and the tapes are now highly valued by collectors and traders. The content on the tapes have since been uploaded to various video sharing sites such as YouTube, but getting an actual copy is a pipe dream.
  • The Virtual Boy and Nintendo GameCube libraries. The former has been left completely untouched due to Nintendo hating the console and its failure, while the latter has seen very little in terms of re-releases or remakes of its first-party library. A particular note that highlights this was the Wii U's Virtual Console, which offered games from every major Nintendo home and handheld system going back to the Nintendo Entertainment System... with the exception of these two systems, despite it also having Wii and even Nintendo DS games. This isn't helped by some games being financial failures (e.g. Chibi-Robo!), having small print runs (e.g. Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance), or both (e.g. Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest), which makes buying even secondhand copies a case of Crack is Cheaper. GameCube titles that sold well, such as Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, have become victim to high prices on the used market as time has gone on, though that game would eventually receive a Nintendo Switch remaster in 2024.
  • The entire Nintendo 64DD library (with the exception of Doshin the Giant) has never been re-released in any form. This is most likely due to the fact that the add-on only saw a limited mail-order release in Japan and was one of Nintendo's biggest failures. Right now the only option to play Nintendo 64DD games is to import one (which is extremely hard to find) or emulate the ROMs.
  • Since both the Nintendo DSi Shop and the Nintendo 3DS eShop have closed, it is now impossible to download DSiWare applicationsnote .
  • The closings of the Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS eShop and Virtual Console services means that, if one had not already downloaded a given game from the service (at which point it could be redownloaded), any game exclusive to these platforms that never saw physical releases are now impossible to purchase, leaving piracy and purchasing second-hand consoles that have the games installed as the only ways to obtain them.

Specific Games

  • amiibo can be this, with some having been discontinued within weeks of their release. Wanted to train a Villager or Wii Fit Trainer amiibo for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U? Typically you'll have to end up picking up an imported one on Amazon for at least twice the MSRP. Stock is rather low in the US for some characters while you can find 20+ Pikachu anywhere you go. It started improving once Nintendo abandoned the idea of store exclusives (with characters like Shulk, Greninja, and Lucario finding their way to more outlets), and some lines would be reprinted depending on recent game releases and popularity, but some amiibo forever cease production due to unpopularity or lack of relevance.
  • Animal Crossing:
    • The original Animal Crossing (2001) has unlockable rewards in the Japanese and American versions of the game through Nintendo e-Reader cards; Japan in particular even got an exclusive Updated Re Release, Dobutsu No Mori e+, that makes heavy use of the E-reader to the point of even having villagers that can only move in if their card is scanned. Meaning if you want everything the game has to offer, you'll need a GameCube, Game Boy Advance, and the e-Reader peripheral. This trope hits particularly hard for North American fans, as while the e-reader was a success in Japan, the device and its cards flopped in America and was discontinued in just over a year. And importing a Japanese one isn't an option, as the devices are region locked.
    • The Animal Crossing Amiibo cards that released alongside the Happy Home Paradise spin-off, a later update to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, has villagers that can only move to the player's town if their amiibo card is scanned (which, in case you only have the original 3DS, 3DS XL, or 2DS, needs an additional amiibo scanner peripheral). By the time Animal Crossing: New Horizons was released, many of those amiibo cards had been out of print for many years, and managing to get your hands on one was very difficult both due to their rarity and because the cards of the more popular villagers were always guaranteed to be expensive. Nintendo did eventually restock the amiibo cards during late 2020... in Japan only. Fortunately, the release of a new set of amiibo cards was accompanied by a worldwide restock of the previous cards. Unfortunately, the Welcome Amiibo series was never given a worldwide reprint, meaning your best bet for legitimate copies is buying the Japanese copies.
  • Donkey Kong:
    • The original arcade port of Donkey Kong became this for decades due to Screwed by the Lawyers, as a lawsuit filed by Ikegami Tsushinki (whom Nintendo contracted development of the arcade cabinets to) prevented this version of the game from being rereleased in most capacities (a notable exception being a mandatory Game Within a Game in Donkey Kong 64). Thankfully, this eventually changed when Hamster released the arcade version on the Nintendo Switch eShop as part of their Arcade Archives line in 2018.
    • Donkey Kong 64 remains the only DK platformer to never see a Wii Virtual Console release, possibly because it featured Rare's now Microsoft-owned ZX Spectrum game Jetpac as an also-mandatory minigame. N64 copies have never been rare, but it was either them or nothing until it was finally released on the Wii U's Virtual Console a few years later, Jetpac and all.
  • The third and last game in the Famicom Detective Club series, Lost Memories in the Snow, where the main character of the game is recurring character Ayumi Tachibana, became unavailable to play following the end of the Satellaview (with the game having already been subjected to limited play times during the lifespan of the service). While footage of the game's chapters has been found and made available on Nico Nico Douga, all audio has been lost, and the game cannot be played.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Just like its predecessor, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn had a small print run to start with, meaning even buying secondhand copies can run you several hundred dollars.
    • Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light finally saw an English localization for the franchise's 30th anniversary, which included several new quality-of-life features. It was also a limited time digital re-release that was delisted after a few months.
  • Gyromite and Stack-Up, the sole games designed for use with the NES's Robotic Operating Buddy. The way the games were controlled via the R.O.B. peripheral makes a Virtual Console release all but impossible for either game. If you have a copy of either game and want to play it, you're also going to need a CRT TV; like the Zapper mentioned below, the R.O.B. peripheral won't work with flat-screen TVs.
    • It should be noted that Gyromite is perfectly playable without R.O.B., as all of its functions can be done using a second controller.
  • The download service for the iQue Player, a Chinese variant of the N64 that used heavily encrypted downloaded games, closed on 31 December 2016, so although a package of all released ROMs (in the iQue@Home software) has been mirrored on the Web, nobody can pay to unlock any more copies of the games, and as of now the encryption has not been cracked.
  • Narrowly averted with, of all things, Jump Rope Challenge; a free game for the Nintendo Switch that has the player use the Joy-Cons as a virtual jump rope. For unspecified reasons, it was listed to be removed from the eShop by 30th of September 2020, but popularity and a milestone of 2.5 billion jumps garnered by the player base likely helped it remain.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords:
    • The original release is out of print and used copies go north of $100USD. Even if you snag a copy, unlike its sequel, it requires two-to-four players to play, meaning you'll need to find at least one other person with a Game Boy Advance, a Link Cable, and the game if you want to play it.
    • The DSiWare port fixed the multiplayer issue by adding a single player mode, but it was a free download that was only available for a limited amount of time on two occasions, meaning the only way to get it these days it to buy a used DSi or 3DS that has the game downloaded to it or has it in its purchase history.
  • Pokémon:
    • Pokémon Yellow. While the game is available through the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console re-release, original copies of Yellow fall under this trope. The original Game Boy carts are strangely fragile due to rushed production to meet the demand at the height of the series' popularity, meaning that while they aren't rare, they still fetch significant prices on sites like eBay. Quite a few of the earlier spinoffs, most noticeably Hey You, Pikachu! and the Pokémon Stadium games, share this issue.
    • Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver, quite possibly the most beloved of the Updated Rereleases, is a paradoxical case as the games sold over 12 million copies and are among the best-selling games on the DS. However, they also had a very small print run compared to the other Pokémon games on the system. Due to both the lower amount of copies available and the persistently high demand for the games, the majority of copies still available are, at their cheapest, $150 USD...and that's if you're lucky. Anything lower than that is a reproduction cartridge that's 100% guaranteed to crap out on you after only a few days or so of playing. And if you want the Pokéwalker, well, you'd better hope you have 200+ USD to spare...
    • PokéPark: Fishing Rally DS was a spin-off game that not only saw release just in Japan, but was also only available as a DS Download Play demo. From May 2005 to September 2005, you could bring your DS to the PokéPark theme park, Pokémon Festa Convention, or one of the Pokémon Center stores in Japan and download the game. However, the game disappeared after 12 hours or after shutting off your DS, so you couldn't even keep it. The game is simple and revolves around fishing for Water Pokémon. You are then given a score based on the size, level, and rarity of each Pokémon. You could also upload your high score to the kiosks where you download the game. After the game was discontinued in September 2005, it was never re-released, not even as a DSiWare title.
    • Pokémon Ranger: A set of three games that were all released on the Nintendo DS. Getting used copies isn't difficult, and they would see re-release through the Wii U Virtual Console (...which closed in 2023), but brand-new, factory sealed copies have something those don't: the Mythical Pokémon Manaphy, which can only be found and obtained to transfer to the mainline games once per cart. Yes, cart, not save file. Being a Mythical Pokémon, the only other way to get Manaphy without someone else trading theirs to you would be to wait for The Pokémon Company to give one away during a special event. How often are these events? Before the year-long global 20th anniversary events in 2016 that doled out every Mythical Pokémon created up to that point, the last Manaphy event in the West was a decade prior.
    • Over the years, hundreds of special and unique real-world events have been held that gave players the opportunity to acquire rare or one-off variations of certain Pokémon, dating all the way back to The '90s. These events encompass prizes given through Championships, store promotions (e.g. Toys'R'Us), contests hosted by Nintendo Power Magazine and much more. Many of these variations (which often include unique Shiny variants or Pokemon with moves they're normally not able to use) were only available for very limited periods of time (in some cases, as little as a three-hour window), but many of these unique variations have been found in the wild, via the discovery of "distribution carts" made by Nintendo that were intended to install the specific variant on legitimate copies, and were intended to be destroyed. Many of these distribution carts can still be bought in the open market, but there are plenty of other variations (including the shiny Celebi and "Professor Magikarp" from the first generation) that have never been found again since their original contest/acquisition period.
  • Pro Wrestling actually received an ESRB rating for the Virtual Console, which it then somehow failed to appear on. It eventually was put on the Nintendo Switch's NES application as part of the system's online subscription.
  • Rare:
    • The original version of Diddy Kong Racing remains as the only Donkey Kong-related Nintendo 64 game to not see a re-release. The stumbling block for its release surrounds the character roster. Of those that appear, only Diddy and Krunch are from the Donkey Kong Country series (and thus owned by Nintendo). The rights to all the others remain with Rare, which was bought out by Microsoft in 2002. While Rare did remake the game for the DS, that version is also long out-of-print, and it also made a slew of changes to the original game, among them being Banjo and Conker replaced with Tiny Kong and Dixie Kong.
  • Rhythm Heaven soundtracks are only published for the Japanese market, which do not have the English-language versions of the vocal tracks found in the North American and European/Australian versions. While those tracks can be ripped from the game data, their lack of soundtrack appearances also means they do not have extended versions like the Japanese-language versions do.
  • Square and Enix's titles from the NES and SNES eras have received one (sometimes two or more) rereleases via remakes, Virtual Console releases, or ports. However, some haven't without any mention as to why, but some can speculate:
  • Apparently, Nintendo ran into problems emulating the SNES's Super FX chip on Wii Virtual Console releases, which would explain the lack of several high-profile games released around that time (including Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island and the original Star Fox). The matter of Nintendo letting the rights to the Super FX chip lapse also prevents the games from showing up on the Wii U Virtual Console even if Nintendo did get the emulation right. However, the former's Game Boy Advance Updated Re-release got a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console release to early adopters and a Wii U Virtual Console release for the general public.
    • Nintendo eventually resolved their Super FX emulation blues in 2017, putting the original SNES versions of Star Fox and Yoshi's Island and even the unreleased Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic Mini console, while Stunt Race FX saw a re-release on Nintendo Switch Online.
  • Both Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Super Mario Bros. 35 as of April 1, 2021, with Nintendo delisting both from the Switch eShop, and discontinuing physical copies of the former (though retailers would still be able to sell any remaining copies they have in stock). This is because both games were limited releases for the 35th anniversary of the Super Mario Bros franchise, so this is understandable.
  • The Super Smash Bros. series almost never sees re-releases of any of its games, always being stuck on the system they were produced for. The lone exception is Super Smash Bros. 64 for the Wii's Virtual Console in 2009, but with the shop closing down in 2019 and never being released on the Wii U or (as of now) Switch's online service, it makes it impossible to play without tracking down a Nintendo 64.
  • Various Nintendo games that use the Tetris branding but aren't actually Tetris games (such as Tetris Attack), due to the extremely strict trademark licensing from The Tetris Company, because so far the only Nintendo game with "Tetris" in the title to be released on the Virtual Console service is the Game Boy installment (and for some reason, unlike Link's Awakening, it's the original version and not the DX Updated Re-release for the Game Boy Color), released on the Nintendo 3DS. Fortunately, in the case of the Tetris Attack/Puzzle League series, sequels dropped the Tetris branding, which allowed the Pokémon-based games to get released on the Virtual Console. Additionally, the Super NES Online service on the Nintendo Switch added the original Japanese version of Panel de Pon in 2020, so the game itself without the Tetris branding is available.
    • The Game Boy installment itself was only made available for three years before it was delisted from the 3DS Virtual Console. The lack of availability of this game is an extreme case, as the Game Boy installment is by all accounts the Tetris game for many people—it stands as the Game Boy's original Killer App, and remains one of the best-selling single-platform video games of all time.
      • However, with the introduction of Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games to Nintendo Switch Online, the original Game Boy version of Tetris is once again available to players, averting this trope at least for the time being.
  • One example that isn't Nintendo's fault: Uniracers. Its developers, DMA Design, were taken to court by Pixar over the design of the playable unicycles, saying that their work on Red's Dream was being infringed on. The court agreed with them, and Nintendo was forced to stop sales on any future copies of the game, and it has never been rereleased since.
  • Nintendo seems to have no interest in recreating their Zapper games on the Virtual Console or any other platform. Only Duck Hunt was made an exception for the Wii U's Virtual Console because the titular characters in the game were made playable characters in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U.
    • On October 21, 2015 they re-released Wild Gunman for the European Wii U Virtual Console (and on January 7 of the following year for North America), but it's likely for another reason....
    • If you want to play games with the Zapper, then you better keep an old-fashioned CRT television as well. Modern flatscreen televisions perfectly enable you to play on the NES. However, the Zapper won't work because of the mechanics behind it. Thankfully, this does not apply to the Virtual Console re-releases, which use the Wii Remote instead.
      • This also applies to the later SNES Super Scope. And unlike the Zapper, no Super Scope-compatible games (most notably Super Scope 6, Yoshi's Safari, Battle Clash, and Metal Combat: Falcon's Revenge) have ever received an official re-release in any form.

    Sega 
  • The 2010 console port of After Burner Climax was delisted by Sega on December 17th, 2014. As it was only available as a digital release through PSN and XBLA, the only way people will be able to play it is through obtaining a used Xbox 360 or PS3 that already has the game downloaded to the console or have an XBL or PSN account that has the game in its download history (similar to the Zelda: Four Swords situation). Otherwise, one will have to scout for a cabinet of the original arcade game. (The most likely reason for the game's removal are licensing issues-the rights to use real-life aircraft in the game may have run their course and Sega wasn't bothered to renew them.)
  • Alpha Protocol's PC version was digitally delisted on June 19, 2019 due to the expiration of its music licenses, forcing would-be players to track down physical copies (which luckily can still be found for a low price), and neither the PS3 nor the Xbox 360 version has received backwards compatibility with the consoles' later-generation counterparts.
  • While Castle of Illusion has received a remake and its Genesis version as well as the direct sequel World of Illusion were included on the 2019 Genesis Mini, no plans about remakes or re-releases of the other Illusion games (the handheld Land of Illusion and Legend of Illusion titles) have been announced (not helped due to the developer, Sega Studios Australia, shutting down after production on the remake finished). Prior to the Genesis Mini, the Genesis Castle of Illusion itself was only made available for PS3 digital download as a pre-order bonus to the PSN release of the remake.
    • The Castle of Illusion remake also initially lapsed into this, as it was initially delisted from digital avenues after being available for three years. The remake was thankfully made available again in March 2017.
  • Daytona USA spinoff S.C.U.D. Race (aka Sega Super GT in North America) does not have a port, and it's highly unlikely it will happen in the foreseeable future. The game uses the likenesses of several real-world supercars (especially Porsche, of which Electronic Arts have the exclusive rights to in video games), and considering OutRun Online Arcade and the aforementioned After Burner Climax got nixed due to licensing issues, that may very well be the reason why no port exists.
  • Garfield: Caught in the Act aside from its PC port seeing a re-release in 1998 as part of the Sonic & Garfield Pack hasn't been re-released.
  • Despite being better-received in the West and having more accessible hardware than its predecessor, the Sega Dreamcast fared not much better in its lifespan and hardware sales. Since it was the last Sega console released before the company elected to leave the hardware business, games released for this platform are also scarce in availability to contemporary platforms as well. This problem also applies to many games released during Sega's early years as a third-party publisher, due to Sega's development studios making new games and ports of existing Dreamcast games exclusive to certain platforms, some of which tanked in sales due to them failing to match the platform's demographics (Sega games released as Xbox exclusives were especially bad with this). As a further consequence, Sega during their transition as a third-party publisher decided to consolidate their studios (who were initially spun off into subsidiaries) back into organized R&D divisions within the company; resulting in many of the studios responsible for producing these games being closed and seeing their staff redirected into the newly-established R&D groups.
    • While the first Crazy Taxi has gotten a handful of releases following its original arcade and Dreamcast console release, its two sequels haven't been as lucky. Crazy Taxi 2's only release outside of the Dreamcast was on the PSP entry Fare Wars (a compilation port of the first two games); while Crazy Taxi 3: High Roller has remained exclusive to the Xbox.
    • Sakura Wars 3: Is Paris Burning? and Sakura Wars 4: Fall in Love, Maidens were originally released for this system, before being ported to the PC. While the original Dreamcast releases of the games are out of print, Is Paris Burning? was also ported to the PS2 alongside the Updated Re-release of Sakura Wars.
    • Skies of Arcadia is another statistic of a game that received critical praise but performed to indifferent sales, and thus isn't available outside either the original Dreamcast release and its enhanced "Legends" port to the Gamecube.
    • Developer Smilebit's three Xbox-exclusive releases — Jet Set Radio Future, Panzer Dragoon Orta, and GunValkyrie — made little impact in sales, and thus have yet to see a re-release on another platform. The original release of Jet Set Radio Future is especially bad for being very hard to find and just as costly to obtain, prompting most people searching for the game to go with the Jet Set Radio Future/Sega GT 2002 combo disc bundled with Xbox consoles for the 2002 holiday season (which in fairness was done specifically due to the standalone game's low sales; the combo disc itself is actually somewhat common to come across in used game stores and is usually priced pretty cheap). The original Jet Set Radio/Jet Grind Radio on the Dreamcast, however, did eventually see a re-release on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and Steam in 2012.
    • Space Channel 5 is an odd case. The original game's Dreamcast release eventually made it to America and Europe, while the Dreamcast release for its sequel, Part II, never left Japan. Both games received PS2 ports, though due to Part II's more limited and behindhand run, the original game is better known. While Part II was included on the Xbox 360's Dreamcast Collection and was re-released to the XBLA, PSN, and Steam; whether the original game will see its own re-release is still up in the air.
  • The Sega Saturn is notorious for games released on it being hit with this, as in most cases the original source code to games on that system has been long lost to time. The console itself is also known for having a terribly short lifespan due its unpopularity in the West, and for being extremely difficult to develop for (which in turn partially explains why the source code for many of these games easily became lost). The only notable exception to the rule is NiGHTS into Dreams…, which has a Japan-only enhanced remake for the PS2, and an updated re-release of said remake for PSN, XBLA, and Steam (thankfully available worldwide).
    • Burning Rangers is supposedly barred from re-release due to the source code being lost. The game was also released toward the very end of the Sega Saturn's lifespan in America and Europe. Japanese copies can be found for cheap (usually $40-50), but American and European copies.........not so much (they usually sell close to $1,000 at the least as of 2022).
    • The first House of the Dead is another victim of lost source code, so it's only available on the original Saturn release and the PC port of said release.
    • The Mega Man games on the Sega Saturn aren't a walk-in-the-park to find. They can race anywhere from $40 to $80 at minimum, if you manage to find them.
    • OutRun 2's HD home ports on XBLA/PSN, OutRun Online Arcade, as well as the Steam release of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, were removed from digital distribution around 2011 and 2013 respectively, due to Sega's expired licence with Ferrari. While the previous generation ports on PlayStation and Xbox as well as the PC version OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast are available in physical formats however, second-hand copies can be very pricey depending on completeness and region.
    • Panzer Dragoon Saga. Aside from the original source code being lost, the game was released in limited quantities during its short life on the Sega Saturn, and developer Team Andromeda merged with Smilebit (who is now defunct).
    • Sakura Wars (1996) and Sakura Wars 2: Thou Shalt Not Die were ported to the Dreamcast and as well as the PC, with the first game also getting an Updated Re Release on the PlayStation 2 under the subtitle In Hot Blood. Most recently, the two games were also ported to the PSP in 2006. The original Saturn games, as well as the Dreamcast ports, have long since gone out of print.
    • Shining Force III. Yet another game with its source code supposedly lost. It doesn't help that what was Shining Force III in the West was actually the first part of a trilogy, as the remaining two parts never saw release outside of Japan; or that then-series developer Sonic! Software Planning (now known as Camelot Software Planning), the only possible party who could have the source code, has long since jumped ship to Nintendo.
    • The Sega Genesis game Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island (or Sonic 3D Blast as known by in North America) was given an Updated Re-release on the Sega Saturn, commissioned by Sega as a replacement for the cancelled Sega Saturn game Sonic X-treme. This version of the game, despite sporting enhanced graphics, a new soundtrack, and a new special stage, has only seen one subsequent PC port released a year later (which lacks the fog visual effects of the Saturn version, but has a save function and a variant of the Saturn version's special stage that uses the Genesis version's 2D sprites instead of the Saturn's 3D model). Oddly, Steam has an emulation of the Genesis version available for purchase rather than the PC port.
    • Of the three Sonic games that made it to the Saturn, the absolute rarest of them all is the Compilation Rerelease Sonic Jam, which has never left the platform (the very superficially related Game.com release of the same name notwithstanding). This normally wouldn't be too eyebrow-raising, as compilation games are rarely, if ever, re-released; however, Jam is notable for being one of two Sonic compilations (the other being 2022's Sonic Origins) to have actual ports of the Genesis games (rather than emulations, as has been the case for most re-releases), complete with various difficulty modes. Jam also featured various bonus content that hasn't been brought back in future compilations, the most important of which being Sonic World—a 3D hubworld with missions that was effectively the closest thing Sonic ever got to a 3D platforming game on the consolenote .
    • The original Sega Saturn version of racing spin-off Sonic R can be considered this, as although the game was included as part of Sonic Gems Collection on the GameCube and PlayStation 2 note , the game is based on the PC version, which is a mixed bag of added features and downgrades that the Saturn version lacks, such as adding various weather effects and improved draw distance while also lacking the transparency effects for the Radiant Emerald stage. As such, the original Saturn version is quite difficult to come across.
  • A fair amount of the Sonic the Hedgehog games, particularly from the "Classic" era fall under this.
    • SegaSonic the Hedgehog (A.K.A. Sonic Arcade) has never received a home port nor an official release outside of Japan; according to an interview with Yuji Naka, problems emulating the trackball controls prevented it from appearing on Sonic Gems Collection.
    • The original version of Sonic CD. Being released on the unpopular Mega CD/Sega CD add-on for the Sega Genesis is the reason for its obscure status in the first place, compared to the main Genesis Sonic titles. A PC port released a few years later has over time become functionally obsolete, with the game becoming virtually unplayable on computers running Windows XP and later. A planned inclusion of the game on Sonic Mega Collection was nixed due to emulation problems (mostly from tossing out the original schematics and design documents for the Mega CD/Sega CD as well as somehow losing the original game's source code), subsequently resulting in the version on Sonic Gems Collection being a modified port of the PC version (this is noticeable in how the debug menu works, and the water in Tidal Tempest being clear; PCs of the era had issues emulating the water effects, so it was scrapped). The 2011 re-release has the assets of the original game running on a engine completely re-coded from scratch, which makes it a hybrid of a Polished Port and a Video Game Remake; but since it's designed to be virtually identical to the original release, it's the closest thing one could get to a true re-release of the Mega CD original.
    • Following its last release on Steam in 2011, Sonic 3 & Knuckles has been consistently skipped over in receiving any re-release or remaster, unlike its two immediate predecessors. (Not helping matters was that a mobile remaster was proposed in 2014 but turned down.) While no official reason has been given as to why, many people in the fandom largely point towards the ambiguous legal tape over the game's music, which at one point had Michael Jackson and his crew on board as composers. By the same coin, Sonic 3&K also has no legitimate release of its original soundtrack, in stark contrast to the other major Sonic titles. Only remixes exist for official song releases, most of which are from the Sonic & Knuckles half of the game. Tellingly, a PC compilation port of the game exists that replaced several tracks used for Sonic 3 with older compositions not used in the final game.
      • Fortunately, a Genesis-focused collection —Sonic Origins— was released in 2022, which features remastered versions of the famed Genesis/Sega CD titles, Sonic 3 & Knuckles finally included, albeit with some music tracks replaced. Shortly before Sonic Origins' release, its component games were delisted from digital storefronts.
    • Arcade fighter Sonic the Fighters (also known as Sonic Championship outside of Japan) was initially given a very limited release outside of Japan, and as a result became rather obscure and looked down upon by international audiences. The fact that it's essentially a Dolled-Up Installment of the Fighting Vipers series only added to its poor reputation overseas, and while the game was re-released more openly as part of Sonic Gems Collection and on the Xbox Marketplace/PlayStation Network (the latter version of which adds a few extra bells and whistles such as three formerly Dummied Out fighters), the original arcade cabinet of the game is a rarity to find.
    • Knuckles Chaotix is available only on the obscure Sega 32X add-on for the Sega Genesis, save for one short-lived re-release on the online video game service GameTap. It was going to be part of Sonic Gems Collection, but was scrapped due to the difficulty of emulating 32X hardware.
    • The aforementioned three Sonic games on the Sega Saturn (Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, Sonic R, and Sonic Jam). Concerning 3D: Flickies' Island, however, the original version on the Sega Genesis isn't difficult to find, thanks to the Virtual Console and Steam releases and being included in later compilations such as Sonic Mega Collection.
    • The original Dreamcast versions of Sonic Adventure and to a lesser extent Sonic Adventure 2 had a number of online features that were missing from all later ports. There were online contests and global rankings with physical rewards, downloadable events and challenges, and the ability to share Chao online. Additionally, players could download rare and otherwise unobtainable Chao from the Black Market. Nearly all of these features were lost even for the Dreamcast versions, as they used the games' official websites, which closed down years ago. Players can still find most of the Dreamcast-exclusive DLC floating on the web, and they can still be played despite their online contests no longer being active, but the first game's second Japanese DLC, and the Black Market Chao downloads of both games, seem to be sadly lost, as no one has uploaded them anywhere since their original downloads went down.
      • In addition, the Chao feature suffered losses with each re-release. As stated, online sharing was removed, and the loss of the online Black Market meant that getting Jewel Chao was much harder and more expensive in the GameCube ports, which required a GBA, a link cable, a GBA Sonic game, and hours of grinding. Chao Adventure 1 and 2 were missing from non-Dreamcast versions, replaced by Tiny Chao Garden, which played vastly differently and served different purposes. Then Tiny Chao Garden was removed from the non-GameCube releases, resulting in the loss of functionality such as Chao transfer between games, and Jewel Chao being rendered unobtainable without hacking. Similarly, the Moon, Tails, Knuckles, and Amy Chao, originally available from special events, bonus disks and Phantasy Star Online, are unobtainable due to the lack of GBA connectivity. The removal of Party Race also means that it's no longer possible to have your Chao compete with your friend's, eliminating the purpose of leveling up your Chao after beating all Races in single player.
      • Lastly, modern ports of Sonic Adventure are based on the PC version of Sonic Adventure DX, an issue-ridden port of the GameCube version, and keep nearly all of its problems. And since they're based on the DX upgrade, it's not possible to play the game with the original Dreamcast graphics outside of game mods, even if you don't get the DX DLC.
    • Sonic Shuffle, also for the Dreamcast, has never had an official re-release. This may have something to do with the Dreamcast's VMU coming into play, as it was used to keep the player's playing cards hidden from the other players.
  • A fangame of Streets of Rage wound up with this fate, courtesy of being Screwed by the Lawyers. When Bomber Games released a Fan Remake named Streets of Rage Remake, a non-profit modernized compilation of all three original games with several extra features, they were hit with a C&D order that forced them to stop developing it at version 5. But that was too late: the game is already entirely functional, and though Bomber Games doesn't distribute it on their site anymore, there are many other places that host both v5 and previous versions.

    The Tetris Company 
The Tetris Company is notorious for refusing to rerelease past games in the franchise and being highly restrictive with the license, to the extent of where even relatively recent games often get pulled and delisted after only a few years due to another company gaining the license. In addition to the examples in the Nintendo section:
  • Modern games carrying the Tetris name are required to adhere to the Tetris Guideline, a series of stringent gameplay and presentation rules for modern Tetris games that mandates things like piece rotation mechanics, the color of each piece type, and even the requirement to include the company's trademarked arrangement of Korobeiniki. 2001's Tetris Worlds was the first game for which the Tetris Guideline was fully implemented. For a long time the Tetris Company had a "no Grandfather Clause" policy, meaning any games released prior to that, even ones originally developed and/or published by Tetris Company co-owner Henk Rogers' old company Bullet-Proof Software, were disallowed from being rereleased. This policy was finally softened around 2019 (the game's official 35th anniversary), leading to some games that had long been out of circulation (or never been ported at all) getting rereleased.
  • For a long time it was impossible to get ports of the Tetris: The Grand Master series of Japanese arcade games by Creator/Arika. The first two TGM games were released before the Guideline was established in 2001, and took a very different tact for making a super-challenging single-player game. Tetris: The Grand Master 3 got by despite the Guideline being in place when it was released in 2005 as Arika included both the official Tetris Guideline rotation system as a player-chosen option alongside the TGM rotation system instead of replacing it, so no big loss there. However, Tetris: The Grand Master ACE, which was released the same year as a Japan-exclusive Xbox 360 launch title twisted so much for the sake of complying with the Guideline that most players do not consider it a proper TGM game. For a long time, the only way to legally play TGM, especially outside of Japan, was to purchase the actual arcade hardware, which is difficult to find especially if you don't know how to navigate Japanese auction sites, and expensive (see the arcade example near the top of the page). This was eventually averted in late 2022 when the first game was released on the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 as an Arcade Archives title, with the second also released the following spring. Note that these are the first official releases outside Japan of the series. The relationship between the Tetris Company and Arika has notably improved after Arika developed the Guideline-compliant Tetris 99 for the Switch.
  • For a pre-Tetris Guidelines example, the improperly licensed Tengen port of Tetris for the NES was only available for a brief period of time before it was pulled by shelves due to a court order ruling that Nintendo had the exclusive home console rights to the game at the time. Since the Tengen version is entirely different from Nintendo's own NES port (sharing more in common with Tengen parent Atari Games US arcade version, which was properly licensed) and is often considered the superior port, the Tengen version has become a rare and highly sought-after collector's item.
  • Sega's Japanese arcade version of Tetris, the rights for which were sub licensed from Atari Games, was slated to get a Genesis/Mega Drive port, but it was cancelled and shelved shortly before release as a consequence of Nintendo's successful legal battle with Tengen. Only a few dozen copies had actually been produced, and most of those were scrapped, but about 10 legitimate copies are known to exist. Due to the home version never seeing an official release, the only way to play the game was to be lucky enough to own one of the very few legitimate cartridges of the game, obtain a Chinese bootleg cartridge, or track down a ROM on the Internet. In 2004, the port was finally officially released when it was included as part of the Sega Ages Tetris Collection on PlayStation 2, but that was never released outside Japan. (The Sega Genesis Mini, released in 2019, has a new, more arcade accurate port that is different from the planned Genesis release.)

    Multiple/Other 
  • The relatively obscure post-apocalyptic horror series Afterfall: Insanity, which consists of only one full game and an unfinished episodic sequel, were pulled off of Steam without warning in 2015. Some reports indicated the reasoning is very similar to the Silicon Knights situation, in that the developers behind the series didn't properly pay for a license to use the Unreal Engine, and were sued by Epic Games to have their games removed from any storefronts.
  • Age of Empires: Castle Siege is no longer playable nor obtainable since May 13th, 2019. Microsoft stopped supporting the server and archived the forums.
  • Albion is a good example of this as well, given that copies show up on Ebay only rarely and in small numbers. When they do appear, they fetch prices of $100, at the very least. That was, of course, before the game saw a re-release of GOG.com.
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has a very unusual case, in that it doesn't apply to the main game itself (which has remained readily available up to today). Instead, there was a special bonus dungeon, called the Lost Dungeon of Souls, released separately on a different disc. Finding a copy of said disc was (and is) extremely difficult, to the point where the collective Internet completely forgot it even existed for several years. Eventually, it was re-discovered, and can now be searched for and downloaded.
  • Of the three "Bat-" games by 8ing/RaizingArmed Police Batrider, Battle Garegga, and Battle Bakraid—only Garegga has ever seen a port; Batrider and Bakraid remain arcade exclusives to this day.
  • Armored Hunter GUNHOUND EX, a doujin run-and-gun mecha game, did see a release on Steam and PLAYISM for a time since 2013, unfortunately, since the developer's temporary suspension of 2018, the game was pulled from those stores. Its original incarnation is still available through DLsite, however its only available from the Japanese version of the site and you can no longer use the EX upgrade tool the developers were supplying to owners of the original game as it can't connect to their servers anymore.
  • Indie horror game Attract Mode used to be available online but has since been taken down. Worse, there are no playthroughs of the game on Youtube, so we can't even see what the game was like!
  • Battle High Team-Up, the initial (now non-canon) installment of the Battle High series, has been lost by the original creators. It's on Yoyo Games's website, but it's no longer available to download, and the browser plug-in's many updates have rendered in-browser play non-functional. One of the members of Battle High 2 *did* get a copy to work, but only on older computers (Windows XP, specifically), and none of the game's source code remains at all.
  • SNK's Beast Busters series was hit with this twice. The first time in 1998, when Beast Busters: Second Nightmare was released for Hyper Neo Geo 64, SNK's failed arcade system that was discontinued after only 7 games were made for it. The system is currently un-emulated (and probably will never be), so the only way to play the game is to find a used cabinet. The second time in 2014, when the franchise was revived as a freemium Mobile Phone Game for its 25th birthday, that however sold less than planned, given the obscurity of the franchise. So, about a year later, SNK removed the app from every online store, making it unavailable to whoever hadn't installed it. Ironically, the app's official site is still up.
  • While you can find Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe almost everywhere from plug-n-play devices to console ports, the lesser known Spiritual Sequel Blasteroids isn't as lucky. Not only does Atari not own the game (Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment does, as it was produced by the post-crash Atari Games unit), but it isn't available on any arcade compilation sets released by either Warner or former owner Midway.
  • Although EA bought the rights to the NFL Blitz series from Midway when they went bankrupt in 2009, the sale didn't include Blitz games that were already developed and released (including the non-NFL branded Blitz: The League, which had been made in part because EA had gotten exclusive license to the NFL) as those were sold to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment along with the rest of Midway's library. As a result, rereleases of those game would require three parties (EA, WB and the NFL) tagged to a rerelease. It took a fourth company, Arcade 1Up, to get it done, with the release of a home arcade cabinet in 2022.
  • Blood Wake for the original Xbox, to date, has never received a backwards compatibility update on newer console generations, and therefore can only be played on the OG system.
  • The official downloads for BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires were taken down at the start of 2019, a few months after the release of its much-improved sequel. A few torrents of the original still exist though, if you’re willing to search for them.
  • Bubble Bobble's original arcade version suffers from lost source code, rendering a true re-release nearly impossible. Most subsequent rehashes were done from the designer's memory and very few were particularly faithful (the Master System version was generally reckoned to be the closest). MAME relied on a bootlegged copy of the protection chip for a long time, so the gameplay was somewhat inaccurate due to the protection being tied to game logic. That is, until they were able to track down an original board, pour some liquid nitrogen on the original protection chip, and stick it under an electron microscope.
  • None of the Buzz! games for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable or any other games using the Buzz Buzzers have ever been re-released. While ROMs can be found online, you'll have to buy the buzzers second-hand if you want to play the non-PSP games since there is no program to actually emulate the buzzers.
  • Captain Goodnight and the Islands of Fear, a multi-genre action side-scroller released by Brøderbund for Apple ][ computers in 1985, was never ported to any other platforms, and so can only be experienced today by either emulation or obtaining a working Apple II machine and floppy disk copy of the game.
  • Castle Wolfenstein and its 1984 direct sequel Beyond Castle Wolfenstein haven't seen any ports or re-releases since the 1980s. This means that the games are only available on floppy disks for MS-DOS, Commodore 64, and various computer systems that have been discontinued for decades, and they are very expensive (some copies costing over $200).
    • Wolfenstein (2009) (the sequel to Return to Castle Wolfenstein) was pulled from distribution not long after its release. This was largely due to underwhelming sales, employees from Raven Studios being laid off, and being developed during id Software's acquisition by ZeniMax Media. New copies of the game (and Steam gifts) still command inordinately high prices, and there are few means of getting a copy for less than $50 as of late. Surprisingly, the game is still considered canon, as its events and the reappearance of one of 09's characters (Caroline) factors heavily into Wolfenstein: The New Order (which found better success).
    • Heretic II is out of print for the same reasons as Wolfenstein (2009). Activision (which published Heretic II) owns the developer Raven Software, while Bethesda owns id Software, who developed all the games in the series except Heretic II.
    • As of 2022, this could change, as Xbox Game Studios will own both Activision and Bethesda.
  • The entire library of indie dev CC & SH from the mid-2000s. They were all available for free from the official website, until the webhost threw on traffic and upload restrictions. Then, some of the most popular titles were put on a CD-ROM on Cafepress — which sold horribly. And then Cafepress removed CD printing from their options. They're getting some of the games re-released for free, for play in browsers and on the Amazon.com Android app store, but most of them are still unavailable.
  • Chu-Teng is a very obscure sequel to the already-obscure Eastern Mind: The Lost Souls of Tong-Nou from Osamu Sato, the creator of LSD: Dream Emulator. When 4chan intervened and made a collective effort to find a copy of Chu-Teng on the Internet, it was so insanely hard that they actually had to enter in touch with Osamu Sato himself—and he said he didn't have a copy either. Practically nothing was known about Chu-Teng aside from the fact that it existed, until, at last, one copy was found, just because some guy who had it around his attic happened to be browsing /v/ at the right time!
    • Even after Chu-Teng was rescued from this state, many of the games by Osamu Sato were left in this state. A notorious offender are the Rolypolys games, which are almost unheard of, despite being as lost as Chu-Teng once was. Recently, people are attempting to find the game, if this is any evidence to it.
  • The 1997 Monolith game Claw is impossible to buy due to copyright issues regarding the eponymous main character. The only way to get a copy is on abandonware sites or torrents.
  • Comic Party is near impossible to find in its original 18+ PC version. Not only has it been out of print in Japanese for years, even illegal downloads of the visual novel are now broken links. The Dreamcast and PSP versions can be found easier, but this is inconvenient for anyone who wanted to use a text-hooking software like Visual Novel Reader to read the VN (as no English patch was ever made).
  • One Commander Keen game (previously two, until Keen Dreams was rescued) is still unavailable to buy, despite the rest of the series being available to purchase digitally: The full version of Commander Keen 6, likely because the copy protection quiz (which happens whenever you start up the game) can't be removed. Similarly to Dreams until its Nintendo Switch rerelease, its rights history is a mess — id Software still owns the rights to the game, and its only releases (besides the pulled Steam version) are the original floppies (impossible to find) and a CD collection which is out-of-print and very expensive.
  • Pretty much the entire Commodore 64 software library falls into this category. Other than a handful of games released for various virtual consoles, the entire rest of the catalog is available almost exclusively on the internet as disk images that can be played using a C64 emulator. Thankfully, rights holders are either nonexistent, having disappeared decades ago, or simply don't care that the images are available, so they're very easy to find.
  • After Data East went bankrupt in 2003, their back catalog of games was divided up between several companies; while some of their old games were rereleased on Data East Arcade Classics and various download services, others, including Midnight Resistance, Karnov and Vapor Trail, are currently unavailable, as are all of Data East's games for the TurboGrafx-16/PC-Engine, which were pulled from the Virtual Console in March 2012. The situation is worse for games like Night Slashers, The Great Ragtime Show, Locked N Loaded, and Thunder Zone (aka Desert Assault, the Spiritual Successor to Bloody Wolf) that weren't ported to consoles either, so they can only be played through illegal emulation. A particularly egregious case is the Spy Hunter clone Bandit, which can be seen in in RoboCop 2 with a The Real Ghostbusters (Data East) marquee plastered on, but never made it past location testing, and is currently not working in MAME.
  • The Deer Avenger series is out of print because the rights are tangled: Simon & Schuster closed its video game division in 2003, developer Hypnotix was sold to Electronic Arts in 2005, and Activision owns the distribution rights (S&S had a distribution deal with Cendant, which was sold to Vivendi).
    • The Outlaw Sports series is also out of print for the same reasons as Deer Avenger. It's unknown whether Activision owns the distribution rights to Outlaw Golf 1, but the other three games (Volleyball, Tennis and Golf 2) were published by Take-Two Interactive through Global Star Software.
  • The Good Old Games rerelease of Descent II does not include the Vertigo Series expansion pack or its additional Redbook music tracks, so the only way to obtain that is to pay out the nose for a hard copy of Descent II: The Infinite Abyss or Descent I and II: The Definitive Collection, or illegally torrent it. Worse, due to Parallax Software not being paid royalties for its co-ownership of the series, all three games were pulled from Steam and GOG in 2016 (although they were later put back up).
  • Taiwanese horror game Devotion was pulled from Steam due to a single placeholder image referring to Winnie the Pooh. While the developers claim it was only pulled so they could remove the image, the game remained unavailable officially until the developers started selling the game directly on their website in March 2021.
  • DoDonPachi dai ou jou is infamous among CAVE fans for how hard it is to get ahold of its ports. The PS2 port by Arika has been long out of print and only includes the basic "white label" version and the special Death Label edition. The Xbox 360 port has it even worse: It turns out that Aqua Systems, the contractor that 5pb (who was in charge of the port) hired to do the porting copied the code from the PS2 port and brought a slew of bugs with it, resulting in Arika stepping in, offering to patch up the port, and the game being pulled out of print, much to the dismay of those waiting for the patch to buy the game. Because of this, and 5pb still having the rights to dai ou jou console ports, it's highly unlikely dai ou jou will see another non-smartphone port for a long time.
  • Dokapon Kingdom was published by Atlus in 2008 for the Wii and PlayStation 2, and as such has become notably more difficult to find over time, resulting in the price increasing substantially over time, the Wii version costing at least $120 for the game disc alone without the game case on Amazon. The game did have a second printing as evidenced by the 2 different versions of the game disc, but it did very little to offset how hard it is to find, as even most used game stores do not have any in stock. The only way you're getting the game at a sensible price right now is by getting the PlayStation 2 version, which is considered inferior due to the longer loading times which add to a substantial amount.
    • Eventually averted: the game is confirmed to return on the Nintendo Switch as Dokapon Kingdom: Connect.
  • Dolphin Blue, a 2003 run and gun game for Sammy’s Atomiswave arcade board which had many Metal Slug alumni involved in its creation, was never ported to home consoles and has yet to see a re-release of any kind, making it one of the Atomiswave’s most sought-after titles. Doesn't help that the board is currently unemulatable in MAME (Dreamcast emulators can run it fine, however, as the Atomiswave is based on modified Dreamcast hardware).
  • The first DuckTales was remade as DuckTales Remastered, but the second game, DuckTales 2, remains MIA on digital download services, with no plans of a remake having been announced. The game is also very rare and expensive in cartridge form, due to being a late NES release; with copies starting at $195 on Amazon. Arguably a case of First Installment Wins in full effect, as most people don't even know the original game had received a sequel in the first place.
    • Finally being averted through The Disney Afternoon Collection, which has both DuckTales 2 as well as the original DuckTales, along with other Disney Afternoon-era NES Disney games (Chip And Dale Rescue Rangers and its sequel, Darkwing Duck, and TaleSpin).
    • On August 10, 2019, DuckTales: Remastered was delisted on digital download services due to Capcom not renewing the DuckTales license with Disney. Physical copies however are fetching for at least $30 on eBay, but some are going upwards of up to $50 or even $100 depending on completeness. Thankfully, it did get brought back to digital download services on March 3, 2020, allowing the game to be purchased through their respective platforms again.
  • Narrowly averted with card-based tower defense game Duel Princess (at least as far as PC is concerned). Just two weeks after its January 13, 2022 release, the game was unceremoniously delisted from the Nintendo eShop worldwide for currently unclear reasons despite ranking highly in the eShop sales charts in the weeks it was available (especially in Japan). Thankfully, the game was made available again on a number of alternative PC storefronts the following month, including DLsite, Itch.io, GameJolt, and JASTUSA. Unfortunately, a Steam release is unlikely due to Steam possibly rejecting it due to its sexually suggestive contentnote . The Nintendo Switch version also remains unavailable as of this writing.
  • After the Duke IP changed hands to Gearbox, most digital releases of the Duke Nukem series (except for Duke Nukem Forever) were pulled from storefronts.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy: The Mis-Edventures is one of the rare aversions to The Problem with Licensed Games. Unfortunately, the game is out of print and can only be played through used copies circulating online. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, who owns it via the Midway Games library, doesn't have any plans for a re-release or remaster.
  • Good luck getting your hands on Square Enix's PlayStation cult classic shmup Einhänder nowadays, as it has not received a digital re-release or remaster, and disc-only copies are already incredibly expensive starting at around $100, to say nothing of complete in-box listings asking up to $300.
  • Ever17 suffers this fate, due in part to its tiny print run (as it was released in the early days of Visual Novels in the west) and in part due to not appearing on digital storefronts, likely due to legal issues. While it even got a fan retranslation in 2018, it's unlikely to see a rerelease in the near future.
  • Want to play the Eyewitness series of educational video games from the '90s and early '00s? Well, you can't go to the store and buy it. You can order them from places like Amazon and eBay, or find a torrent. Otherwise, you're doomed.
  • Something about the Fantastic Night Dreams Cotton series eludes availability. All of the games sell for high prices in secondhand markets and none of the original Cotton games have been ported to any digital storefront. Not helping is majority of the games in the series being stuck in Japan. Panorama Cotton on the Sega Genesis and Cotton: Fantastic Night Dreams on the TurboGrafx-16 CD (which did get a North American release) are probably the most infamous in this regard. The former had small production numbers in Japan (said to be around 5000 units, there's even a tea cup which is even harder to find!), and the latter had even less numbers due to the Turbo CD not being a high selling console in North America. The lone exception to this is the arcade original, which got a nice port by M2 for the Sega Astro City Mini console.
    • This is being averted however, as many companies have started to localize the games to the west, such as Cotton Reboot by BEEPnote , Panorama Cotton and Cotton 100% by ININ Games, and the Sega Saturn versions of Cotton 2 and Boomerang by City Connection as part of their Saturn Tribute line. This leaves Rainbow Cotton on Dreamcast as the exception, considering that it still hasn't had a release westside yetnote .
  • With the release of the Pixel Remasters of the first six Final Fantasy games on Steam, Android, and iOS, all previous versions of those games were removed from those digital storefronts except the 3D remakes of Final Fantasy III and IV. Though such ports were not missed much due to being Porting Disasters (especially V and VI), the Pixel Remasters lack any bonus content from the Game Boy Advance and later versions.
  • After Flappy Bird was pulled from mobile game stores, nobody could get the game unless they had already installed it previously. For a time, this turned the game into a virtual collector's item, with iPhones that had Flappy Bird installed selling for a disproportionate amount of money on eBay. This doesn't seem to be as much of a problem for Android, though, as APKs of the game can easily be installed from third-party sites.
  • Freelancer, published by Microsoft in 2003, has long been out of print and so far has not been ported to any digital storefronts. Fortunately, second-hand physical copies still exist and are reasonably easy to find... for now.
  • Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle and its DLC were delisted from digital stores on January 23, 2023 because Blue Wizard Digital could not renew the movie franchise license.
  • FUEL's PC version has not only been abandoned by Codemasters and thus pulled from digital distribution, but is hamstrung by both SecuROM and GWFL DRM, which are incompatible with modern versions of Windows and require fan-made patches to remove. The console versions also have been denied backwards compatibility with newer generations.
  • Fuser and all of its DLC were taken off of digital storefronts on December 19, 2022 for unspecified reasons following an announcement at the beginning of the month. While those who already owned the game can still play it, the online features are set to be disabled in early 2023, essentially restricting players to the campaign and freestyle modes.
  • The very obscure MS-DOS version of Genocide 2: Master of the Dark Communion was released only in Korea and is next to impossible to find legitimately. Someone did manage to track it down and circulate it through the Internet, so it's only a matter of finding the download for the game and setting up DOS Box to run it.
  • The digital PC versions of both Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter games have been delisted from Steam as well as Amazon and other services, rendering them unavailable to those who haven't already purchased them. The physical editions also have SecuROM Copy Protection, requiring one to download an illegal cracked EXE for them to work on modern systems.
  • With the announcement of the PS2-era trilogy remasters (which, like the Silent Hill HD Collection, ended up being an unmitigated Porting Disaster), the original versions of Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas were promptly delisted from digital distribution platforms for consoles, PC, and mobile. Those with the PC version on Steam can still redownload the original version of the game if it was purchased prior to the game's delisting, however, console players will have to track down a secondhand copy elsewhere. Copies of the original PS2, PC, and Xbox versions can be found for relatively affordable prices, but due to the issue surrounding the licensed soundtrack for the latter two games, some brand new copies can cost upwards of $100. After the abysmal reception and negative backlash towards the Definitive Edition, the original PC versions of III, Vice City, San Andreas were reinstated-but only on the Rockstar Games Launcher.
  • The Great Giana Sisters, a Super Mario Brothers knockoff for the Commodore 64. Nintendo actually pulled it from store shelves. It retained a large cult following, the fans even went so far as to make a sequel of their own. Eventually the series was revived and, rather ironically, published on Nintendo consoles. But the original game still hasn't been re-released (understandably, as it's such a shameless knockoff that they'd have to redesign the game from scratch to keep Nintendo's lawyers off their ass).
  • The Guardian Legend is a Cult Classic, but it has never been rereleased or remade, no doubt in part to its ownership being split between Compile and Irem. Compile no longer exists, but its successors seem interested in distributing its games; Irem, however, has been going through financial difficulties and pulled many of its games from the Play Station Network in 2011 and the Wii Virtual Console in early 2012.
    • Irem's NES classic Metal Storm has also sadly been consigned to the digital dustbin, and due to having a rather limited production run, at least in the US, can fetch at least $120 on eBay.
  • The first Gubble game has seen a few re-releases, but looking for the second game? Good luck.
  • Taken up to eleven with Highlander: The Last of The MacLeods for the Atari Jaguar CD. There are no emulations of the Jaguar CD in any form, the game is an exclusive to it, and worst of all the console has only 20,000 units made and is prone to breaking down a lot, so finding a copy and a working console is extremely unlikely.
  • Hotel Mario and The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games, the infamous Philips CD-i video games featuring officially-licensed Nintendo characters, have never been re-released in any other platform, and not just because Nintendo doesn't own the rights to them (Atari owns them via their buyout of Philips Interactive Media in 1997, when they were called Infogrames). For what it's worth, their classification of the games as non-canon makes any appetite for a re-release minimal. The CD-i is also notoriously difficult to emulate on other platforms, so expect to pay a pretty penny for a CD-i and these games if you dare wish to play them.
  • Hotel 626 was a 2008 horror browser game that is a marketing stunt made by Doritos to promote two "dead" flavors, Black Pepper Jack and Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ. The game can only be played around 6 PM to 6 AM, though you can change the time on your computer. Unfortunately, the game shut down in 2011 and it only exists in the gameplay videos found on YouTube.
  • The Hunter Primal is basically an early access hunting simulator, but with dinosaurs instead of deer, turkey, or other typical game. It has been completely abandoned and delisted from Steam's store, almost certainly due to quality issues. Among numerous other issues, the save system is bugged and many players lose their inventory and all progress after exiting out of the game. A fix for this bug was never released, so players often resort to essentially hacking their inventory to get their items back. Despite its poor quality and unfinished state, some people want to try it because they think the premise is interesting, but unfortunately, the only legit way to get it is by obtaining a steam key from someone else.
  • Atari Games' tie-in game for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Warner Bros. owns the game code and the rest of Atari Games' catalog, but the Indiana Jones franchise is owned by Lucasfilm/Disney. Fortunately, Warner Bros. has a video game publishing deal with Disney, so it could get rescued in the near future.
  • Izzy's Adventure, released in late 1995 by U.S. Gold and starring the widely reviled titular "Olypmic" mascot, was apparently bought by so few people that it was actually considered lost media for a while before a disc image was uploaded online in The New '10s by one of the few people who owned a copy.
  • The OG Xbox-exclusive fighting game Kakuto Chojin was pulled from retail worldwide mere months after release thanks to controversy over the Middle-eastern character Asad, whose theme music used the same Ominous Islamic Chanting as the original Fire Temple music in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and unlike said game, has never been rereleased in any form.
  • Killer7 is one of the most sought-after games on the GameCubenote , thanks to positive word-of-mouth from the very few who had played it, and thanks to Suda51's later games. However, Capcom and Suda51 had no plans on re-releasing it for over a decade—following its 2005 release, it would take until 2018 before the two (in collaboration with NIS America) announced that an remaster of the game was in the works for Steam, planned for a fall 2018 release.
  • Finding physical copies of Namco's Klonoa games for cheap prices is pretty much impossible. Besides the first game's Wii remake, the only re-releases were the Wii U Virtual Console re-releases of the Game Boy Advance games (which are no longer available as of March 27, 2023), and the PlayStation Network downloads of Door to Phantomile. Thankfully, this situation will likely improve with the release of Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series for Nintendo Switch, featuring remasters of the Wii version of Klonoa and the original Klonoa 2: Lunatea's Veil.
  • The 1995 CD-ROM game Legends & Myths. It was released by a rather obscure company, and is nearly impossible to find now. The best chance is searching Ebay and hoping for the best of luck. Though there is good news — it runs just fine on Windows XP at least.
  • Almost all the LEGO PC titles of the 90s and early 2000s, such as LEGO Island and LEGO Racers, have gone out of print and never been re-released, despite it being theoretically possible (as LEGO still owns the rights to all of them). They're not hard to find copies of on eBay or Amazon, but even if you can, there's still several that refuse to run on modern computers.
  • Limbo of the Lost was pulled from stores when it was discovered that most of the graphics and sounds were stolen from other sources and used without permission. It's very unlikely it will ever be sold again due to legal issues.
  • The only one of Lionhead Studios' games had a digital release, that being Fable Anniversary in 2014. The rest of their catalogue, including two other Fable games, two spin-offs, as well as the Black & White games and The Movies, can now only be played legitimately via physical copy, as the company was shut down in 2016 and Microsoft seemingly doesn't have any plans to resurrect these IPs on digital storefronts.
  • In March 2020, the servers for the LittleBigPlanet series were subject to a serious hacking incident that saw its servers closed down for over a year. The good news is that, in September of 2021, the incident was resolved such that the servers for the PS4 version of LittleBigPlanet 3 were brought back online. The bad news is that, sadly, the servers for every other game before LBP3, including the PS3 version of LBP3, were permanently shut down: as such, those versions of LittleBigPlanet are no longer able to upload or download user-created content. Thankfully, dedicated players have created archives of user-generated content on the older games that can be downloaded and played by those who seek them out.
  • The Lunar games and remakes. The early games in the series published by Working Designs tended to have small production runs, and first two games were released on the Sega CD, which was niche hardware in the first place. Lunar: The Silver Star, is actually not too difficult to find, but Lunar: Eternal Blue certainly is (it doesn't help that Eternal Blue had low sales). The remake of Eternal Blue is also a hard find because it was released during the twilight of the PlayStation era. All remakes of Silver Star are not hard to acquire, though.
    • It helps that the first game has more games/remakes in addition to the PlayStation one: Lunar Legend on the GBA and Silver Star Harmony on the PSP.
  • Marble Man: Marble Madness 2 only had limited location testing before being canned, and no known ROM dumps have been uploaded.
  • The Mario Kart GP Arcade games are subject to this, as they have never received a home release and are only playable in arcades. While it isn't difficult to find a GP DX cabinet, you will very rarely come across any cabinets for GP and GP 2, mainly because those have since been replaced by the aforementioned GP DX cabinets.
  • None of the games in the MechAssault series, be it the original duology for Xbox or Phantom War for the Nintendo DS, have gotten any sort of re-release since their original runs, not even in the form of a compilation or remaster. Of the two games for the original Xbox, only MechAssault 2 ever achieved backwards compatibility during the Xbox 360 era, with neither game receiving the same treatment for subsequent Xbox consoles, with the final nail in the coffin coming in November 2021 when Microsoft updated their list of backwards compatible games for the Xbox Series consoles for the final time, and both MechAssault games were passed over. Nor have any of the games been available for download on any online services. As of 2023, the only legitimate way to play any of the games is to pick up a second-hand copy and play on original hardware; besides that, the only option is emulation.
  • The original Metal Max Xeno was delisted from the Playstation Network worldwide in August 2022 due to Kadokawa shedding its Kadokawa Games division and subsequently selling the Metal Max series to Cygames. Metal Max Xeno: Reborn (and spinoff Metal Dogs) were able to avoid this by transferring publishing rights to different companies, but Reborn is radically different gameplay-wise and is thus absolutely not a substitute for the original.
  • Emulators and clones of Dani Bunten's classic edutainment game M.U.L.E. have always been around, but the original game itself was out-of-print for thirty years, before finally being resurrected by Blue Systems and the Bunten estate as a free online multiplayer version called Planet MULE. Additionally, an app version has been released under the name M.U.L.E. Returns.
  • Music Pets was a Facebook virtual pet game that was active in 2010, and at its peak had over 1.2 million monthly users. The game had hundreds of thousands of songs from Universal Music Group and other indie labels. When the game's developer, Conduit Labs, was sold to Zynga, Music Pets shut down on September 17, 2010.
  • For a long time, this was the case of Myst installments 3 and 4, Exile and Revelations. As Cyan made the first two games, and then licensed the series to other developers and Ubisoft for 3 and 4 while they concentrated on Uru Live, when digital releases became popular they were only able to release installments 1, 2 and 5, and in order to play Exile or Revelations, you had to seek out a used copy and hope it would still work. Fortunately, for the 25th anniversary in 2018, it was announced that Cyan had secured the rights once again and would be rereleasing the entire series, updated to work on modern computers.
  • Most Namco-produced RPGs suffer from this. While you can find Xenosaga Episode I and II pretty easily, Episode III will cost you more. note  The Baten Kaitos series still has not had a re-release, with Origins suffering the most as it came out near the end of the GameCube's life span. And don't get us started on .hack... The G.U. trilogy managed to get the HD treatment (.hack//G.U. Last Recode) for the series' 15th anniversary in 2017, though the first series of PS2 games has not been so lucky.
  • Her Interactive discontinued the first two Nancy Drew computer games due to obsolete sound and graphic cards. Fortunately, both games have been remastered and are available on Her Interactive's website. For some strange reason, Waverly Academy can only be purchased as a digital download for PC.
    • In August 2020, HER pulled Ransom of the Seven Ships from all platforms out of racial/cultural appropriation concerns. Specifically, a scene where a white character disguises himself as a Jamaican black man to avoid blowing his cover.
  • No One Lives Forever and its sequel, mainly because, as explained here, nobody quite knows just who owns the rights to the game, and the three companies that can sort it out — Activision (the successor in interest to Fox Interactive), Disney (which owns 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios), which prior to the Disney acquisition sold Fox Interactive to Vivendi Universal Games), and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (which owns developer Monolith Productions) — aren't that interested in going through all the legal battles to find out. A small company called Nightdive Studios (which specializes in rereleasing classic games) applied for a trademark on the games in May 2014 with the intention of rereleasing them, but they eventually ran into a brick wall from the aforementioned three companies (all of which basically admitted they had no idea who owned the copyright, they don't care/have the money to look through their pre-digital archives to confirm, but if Night Dive did anything with the property they would sue regardless) and gave up.
    • Aliens vs. Predator 2, another Fox Interactive game developed by Monolith, is also out of print for the same reasons as No One Lives Forever. Unlike NOLF, Disney owns the Alien vs. Predator IP outright.
  • The Ogre Battle games The Knight of Lodis and Legend of the Zenobia Prince for Game Boy Advance and Neo Geo Pocket Color can't be had on current consoles.
  • Both the PC Game Pass and Xbox versions of Video Game/[[Omori]] were delisted by Microsoft in 2023 after their partnership deal with Omocat ended. What makes this decision baffling is that the PC Game Pass version includes all the new content included in the console versions, something that's absent from the original Steam release.
  • The most widely pirated version of The Oregon Trail qualifies. Those who have come across it remember it best for the gravesite of a former player whose epitaph reads "Here lies andy: peperony and chease". The inscription is likely a response to an ad campaign for Tombstone Pizza which asked "What do you want on your Tombstone?"
  • This used to be the case for Otogi: Myth of Demons, being one of the few OG Xbox games to be completely tied to its home platform, but it was later made available digitally for the Xbox One and later platforms.
  • The Persona 2 duology has experienced its own twisted version. When the two games came out on the original PlayStation, only the second game made it out of Japan. Eventually a fan translation of the first game started making the rounds (and even people at Atlus complemented its quality). Finally the games were remade for the PSP... except only the first remake has made it out of Japan. The original version of the second game has since been made available on the Play Station Network, but downloads and emulation still seem rather more common, out of spite as much as anything else.
  • All of Williams and Bally's games were removed from the The Pinball Arcade on June 30, 2018, as Scientific Games, the current rights owners to Williams's and Bally's pinball games, declined to renew their licensing deal with Farsight Studios. Farsight continued to offer support for those who already owned the tables.
  • R-Type and R-Type II have the Compilation Rerelease R-Type Dimensions on various platforms thanks to Tozai Games, but due to Irem backing out of the console game industry and delisting nearly all of their other VC, PSN, and XBLA rereleases as mentioned above, most titles in the series play this trope straight, especially R-Type Leo, a Japanese arcade-exclusive Gaiden Game, and R-Type Delta, which is physically one of the rarest PSX titles and can go for up to $170.
  • Would you believe Raiden II, the face of arcade Shoot em Ups, as well as Updated Re-release Raiden DX fall under this? There's a Compilation Rerelease that includes II and a port of DX both on PS1, as well as a PC port of II, but they are long out of print, and the PC port is rather inaccurate. Breakthroughs in 2014 finally brought both games to a mostly functional state in MAME; however, as neither game has an in-print release, they remain under this trope.
  • Since the closure of the developer Elixir Studios and the collapse of the publisher Eidos Interactive, Republic: The Revolution is owned by Rebellion, who had pulled it from GOG.com in 2011 and do not list even in their own store. As such, there is currently no legal way to play the game, other than hunting down a rare used copy of Eidos' original run. Interestingly, Rebellion is more than happy to list Elixir's other game, Evil Genius, in its store and every other digital distribution platform…
  • Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days was delisted from all digital storefronts less than six months after its initial release, meaning downloading a pirated version of the GOG release or buying a hideously overpriced grey-market key are the only ways of obtaining it.
  • The leaked 0.05 release of the fangame Rockman 4 Minus ∞ (containing the boss fight with Shadow Man) was taken down at the request of PureSabe, dooming it to this fate.
  • A rather sad case of this applies to the original Wii version of Rodea the Sky Soldier, developed by Prope and produced by Yuji Naka (of Sonic fame). It was completed and ready for a 2011 release, only to be mysteriously shelved by publisher Kadokawa Games. The game wouldn't be seen again until four years later, having been unspectacularly rebuilt for the 3DS and the Wii U by Kadokawa themselves (with the Wii U version, for some incomprehensible reason, being a port of the 3DS version rather than the Wii version). The original Wii game was only made available with first-print copies of the Wii U version, and has been declared by the small group of reviewers and fans who actually got their hands on it to be the only good iteration of the game. (For what it's worth, Naka himself is on record for requesting people to play the Wii game over the other versions on his Twitter feed.)
  • Rule of Rose, another late PlayStation 2-era survival horror cult classic, is infamously even rarer than Haunting Ground, apparently due to being pulled shortly after release for its controversial content, along with being outright banned in several countries. Loose copies command around $200 at a minimum.
  • Rune Factory games stopped being produced in America after a year or so, so this is the only way to obtain any of the early titles.
  • Rusty, and its spiritual successor Totsugeki! Mix, are next to impossible to find legitimate and secondhand copies almost anywhere around the net, due to a combination of being released on an obsolete computer system and being only released in Japan. This is not even getting into importing a working PC-9801 machine. A DOS version does exist, but it's equally as difficult to find.
  • Licensed games based on Sabrina the Teenage Witch were only released once for their original consoles, are totally out of print and never saw any re-release to this day, with no plans from Archie Comics to ever release them again, banishing them into the shadow realm of Abandonware and emulation, which are the only ways to play and experience them today.
  • In an extreme case, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game, a tie-in game for both the comic book series and the then-recent film adaptation of the same name, was taken off of both PSN and XBLA on December 30th, 2014 without explanation, and many of the game codes stopped working as well. (This was likely a result of Ubisoft's contract from Universal expiring, as it was a tie-in to the 2010 movie.) Some websites like Best Buy and GameStop still sold codes for the game on their online stores, but they too had unfortunately ran dry by 2016. We're talking about a download-only console-exclusive game here, not to mention a movie/comic book tie-in game that doesn't suck. Scott Pilgrim creator Bryan Lee O'Malley has expressed interest in getting the game re-licensed in late 2016, but later comments he made about the situation by the year's end indicate he might had ran into a brick wall with lawyers. However, a re-release was later announced by Ubisoft for September 10th, 2020, albeit only on digital fronts initially until it was announced that Limited Run Games would be producing physical editions for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4.
  • The entire Shadow Hearts series. You can probably find From the New World, and maybe Covenant somewhere in a used game store, but the first Shadow Hearts game, as well as Koudelka? Good luck!
  • Shadow Man went into limbo after Acclaim folded and rights of the old Valiant Comics properties floated around to new owners. A Virtual Console re-release of the N64 port was teased from around the time the Virtual Console came out, but that still has not happened. The Dreamcast and PlayStation ports are likely lost forever for various reasons (the PlayStation port no doubt being a tremendous disaster of a port). The PC version did eventually hit Steam, however, which was actually the most advanced version of the game with more maps and higher resolution textures- although the N64 version is better known. Further averted by the Updated Re-release for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, which gave the game another HD bump in visual quality and added back in a plethora of cut material that was never included in any prior version.
  • Shin Megami Tensei:
    • Due to compatibility issues, the iOS version of Shin Megami Tensei I, which is also the only version to be officially released outside of Japan, is currently unavailable. The English script has been salvaged and backported to the Gameboy Advance version as a translation patch, but as of right now, the only way to play the iOS version itself is to have a phone that hasn't been updated in a fairly long time.
    • Shin Megami Tensei NINE was only released for the Xbox, isn't on the backwards compatibility program, and while it is playable on an emulator, it's notoriously unstable. This leaves playing it on the original hardware with a copy that's either already owned or bought used as the only reliable option.
  • Silicon Knights:
    • The company was ordered to cease production of Too Human and X-Men: Destiny and destroy their game code (under the ruling in the Silicon Knights vs. Epic Games lawsuit that the former's use of the Unreal Engine was unauthorized). While Too Human eventually reappeared on the Xbox store and became part of the Xbox One's backwards compatibility program, X-Men: Destiny will likely remain missing in action due to the X-Men license and having to go through Disney.
    • Eternal Darkness and Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes due to the company falling apart and both games not selling very well. Because of this, finding physical copies under $30 is a challenge. Not to mention the fact that there are some rights issues regarding Twin Snakes, since Konami, SK, and Nintendo all participated in its development, and even if there wasn't, Konami always preferred to rerelease the original PS1 game anyways.
  • The Simpsons Hit & Run is out of print for licensing reasons between Disney (which owns The Simpsons), Electronic Arts (which holds the license to make Simpsons video game), and Activision (the successor to both the publisher Vivendi Universal, and the developer Radical Entertainment).
  • Snowboard Kids 2: In addition to not being re-released on the Virtual Console or Nintendo Switch Online, the PAL version was only released in Australia, leading to the game becoming the most valuable game for any system in PAL regions, selling for as little as $550 AU.
  • CyberConnect2's Tail Concerto and Solatorobo: Red the Hunter are seen as the holy grails of the PlayStation and DS libraries respectively because of their notorious rarity (Solatorobo even has the honor of being one of the rarest DS games of all time), especially their US releases. While critically they were modest hits, they failed to break any kind of sales expectations. Loose copies will usually set you back around $150 at least.
  • At the end of January 2024, Spec Ops: The Line was delisted from all digital sales platforms due to unspecified "partnership licenses" expiring; most likely referring to the licensing for the music.
  • On PC, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow essentially exists in abandonware limbo, as it is the only game in the series that was never re-released digitally (neither on Uplay nor Steam) due to a convoluted publishing rights dispute, and the old physical copies no longer work on recent operating systems due to outdated DRM and lighting issues with modern hardware that retroactively make it a Porting Disaster. There are ways to fix it if you manage to (preferably legally) get a copy.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Underpants Slam was delisted from the Xbox Live Arcade due to the developer, Blitz Arcade, going bankrupt. Thankfully, it was since relisted on September 24, 2018 by THQ Nordic.
  • Square Enix's digital PS1 and PSP releases on PSN can run into this at times.
    • In general, the Square side has better luck than the Enix side, with numerous Final Fantasy games, Parasite Eve 1 and 2, Chrono Cross, and even Threads of Fate, Legend of Mana, and Xenogears. On the flipside, Valkyrie Profile, Star Ocean: The Second Story, along with many other Enix PS1 games are all completely missing and have never been re-released. Even the PSP ports of Valkyrie Profile and Star Ocean 1 and 2 were never released digitally, so physical copies are the only option.
    • There are still some Square games that got lost in the shuffle, though, like both Bushido Blade games, Brave Fencer Musashi, and Chocobo Racing.
    • Crisis Core was never released digitally due to licensing issues involving its vocal themes.
    • The PSP ports of Final Fantasy and II are also unavailable digitally. Final Fantasy Origins (the PS1 collection both ports are based off of) is available as a consolation prize, even though it doesn't have the PSP version's bonus dungeons. Final Fantasy IV has the exact opposite case though: the PS1 version isn't on PSN while the PSP version is.
  • Happened again to Atari with all three of their Star Wars arcade games, including Star Wars, Return of the Jedi and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (no relation to the more familiar Atari 2600 game). Unlike the Indiana Jones example above, they were given a re-release, with all three games included as unlockable bonus games on Star Wars Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the GameCube, but that's now out of print. And LucasArts had to negotiate with Atari in order to get the games on there.
    • Fortunately, Arcade1Up managed to work out a deal with Atari and Lucasfilm to re-release all three games on one of their home arcade cabinets. Still no word on if they'll be ported to other platforms, however.
  • The fan game Super Mario Bros. X thanks to creator Redigitnote  getting a cease and desist from Nintendo.
  • System Shock. Considered one of the very best PC games ever created, regularly topping halls of fame. Had mouselook modded in as a fan project in 2009, yet it was never re-released through digital distribution for a time. However, after Nightdive Studios obtained publishing rights to the IP, it was brought back to Steam and GOG as of September 22, 2015 as System Shock: Enhanced Edition, and comes bundled with the floppy disk and/or CD-ROM release of the original MS-DOS version, depending on the platform. It later received a "Source Port" update adding support for high resolutions and other modern PC-related conventions.
    • System Shock 2 was in the same situation until it was finally re-released on Steam and GOG in 2013.
  • Any older game (read: any game before Tales of Vesperia, though Tales of Symphonia and Tales of the Abyss have been rescued as ports) in the Tales Series translated or not, if you live in North America. Particularly bad in Tales of Eternia's case, as the PSP remake was only released in Europe.
  • This seems to have happened to Tekken 3. While the first two Tekken games are available as PSone Classics on the PlayStation Store, 3 is noticeably absent. It is very likely that the inclusion of Guest Fighter Gon is the culprit; Namco has cited licensing issues as an explanation for why he hasn't reappeared in the series, plus producer Katsuhiro Harada mentioned non-technical difficulties as the reason for its absence. The arcade version is playable as a bonus in the PS2 version of Tekken 5, but it lacks the extra features of the PlayStation port (including Gon, Dr. Boskonovitch, and the two minigame modes). Thankfully, used copies of both 3 and 5 are plentiful and cheap.
    • In a swing and a miss, the PlayStation Classic plug-and-play console includes the PS1 version of Tekken 3... namely, the notoriously sluggish European/Australian version.
  • As of May 27, 2019, all of Telltale Games' titles have been delisted and/or outright removed from Steam, GOG, and console downloads. This includes Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Poker Night at the Inventory, The Wolf Among Us, Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Puzzle Agent, Batman: The Telltale Series, and Tales from the Borderlands. Steam and GOG users who already owned the games can still download and play them, however.
  • Most of Toaplan's games are hard to find nowadays, because what happened to the rights to their back catalog after they went bankrupt is a total mystery. This is why Zero Wing didn't get a re-release or sequel after the intro became a famous Memetic Mutation.
  • The Tomb of the TaskMaker, a 1998 sequel to the Macintosh RPG TaskMaker. Although it appeared on a MacAddict disc, the game was rush-released in a somewhat compromised format by a small software company that went under almost immediately afterward. One of the game's authors put a slightly updated version out on his website in July 2008, but the original is still unavailable.
  • Transport Tycoon and its Deluxe version. Designer Chris Sawyer doesn't own the rights. Original publisher Microprose sold the rights to Atari, and they claim not to own the rights and they don't feel like trying to resolve the issue. Chris Sawyer eventually released a spiritual sequel, Locomotion, which didn't do very well. Fortunately, the fan community has rallied around the open-source OpenTTD—until recently a copy of Transport Tycoon Deluxe was required to play OpenTTD. As of Version 1.0.0, open-source replacement graphics/sound sets are supported.
  • Happened twice to Unreal:
  • Urban Chaos: Riot Response was only released on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox, it has no backwards compatibility, and it doesn't play nice with emulators. Your only reliable option is the original hardware and a copy that's already owned or has been acquired through eBay. The most likely reason why it hasn't got a re-release is because the rights are co-owned between Square Enix (who bought Eidos, the game's publisher) and Warner Bros. (who owns Rocksteady, the game's developer).
  • WWF Wrestlemania The Arcade Game has never been reissued on a game console platform since the MS-DOS release in 1997. Since the game was one of few Midway games not to be sold to Warner Bros. (Acclaim, who ported the game to home consoles, owns it via Throwback Entertainment), it's unlikely it'll be resurfacing anytime soon.
  • White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, a Korean horror game from 2001 that has been often compared to games such as Amnesia and Penumbra, narrowly escaped from fading into complete obscurity thanks to torrent and file-sharing sites. It was never released outside of Korea, and while an English release was planned by 4AM Entertainment, that never came to pass, so many people never heard of this game. Sonnori, the developers of the game, also went under, with their webpage being completely barren and the status of distribution likely ceased. Nowadays people go seeking the file downloads for the game and Unnamed's Fan Translation to play this game. Finally rescued by ROI Games, who remade the game and released it worldwide for mobile devices in 2016, followed by an announcement of the game also coming to PS4 and Steam in August 2017.
  • XIII was removed from GOG.com at the very beginning of 2013 due to them losing the rights to sell the game, and as they were the only place to get digital copies of it, it remained completely unavailable until October 2019, when GOG was able to reacquire the rights following the announcement of a remake by PlayMagic.

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