As an art form, video games are next to impossible to preserve. Just imagine, for the sake of argument, that the only way to watch Casablanca was to track down an old film reel, an old projector, and have a theater screen to watch it on. That's about where we still find ourselves with games. While larger-selling and more recent titles are starting to get HD ports, that still leaves the vast majority of titles in the dust. Once the systems for older games begin to break down, and become impossible to repair, how do we still play them?
The easy answer is one that lies in a murky, legal middle-ground: roms and emulators. Barring that solution, the next best option is for the hardware developers to start offering digital back catalogs. Nintendo has started pushing in the right direction with older titles up for sale on the e-shop, but there has to be a wider selection of titles, and other platforms have to start adopting the process as well. On the PC side of things, Steam and GOG are a great start, but there has to be an overall move towards preserving titles as they age past the point of functioning on modern PC's.
Backwards compatibility seemed, for a time, to be a great solution to the problem, but as we've seen with the release of the Xbox One and PS4, it isn't always cost effective for the companies. Also, why would they offer it when they could simply resell you the game in the form of an HD collection? We're already seeing it this generation with the re-release of Injustice, and the upcoming Tomb Raider release.
One thing is for sure: there are no easy answers to the problem. HD collections seem like a crass yet easy way to keep older titles out there, while still pulling in more money for the studios and publishers. Yet the fact still remains that there are several titles out there that are simply being left behind as the industry charges forward in its quest for newer, bigger and better. We're already close to forty years into the lifespan of video games--what happens when we reach 50 years, or 60 even, and there are no simple ways to play older titles?