Based on a study by the Video Game History Foundation, only 13% of video games released prior to 2010 are accessible through first-party markets. It’s even worse for the Game Boy catalog at less than 6%. That doesn’t mean that these games are completely inaccessible, as they may be found through used game stores or online marketplaces like eBay. However, it does mean that these games have a greater chance of being lost completely.

Many organizations and communities are working on and promoting the preservation of video game history. This is a global effort from the likes of the National Videogame Museum in England and the Strong National Museum of Play in the United States along with decentralized platforms such as the Internet Archive. None of these communities seem to put a focus on the niche category of the preservation of homebrew games. It’s hard to blame anyone as preservation efforts already have enormous challenges with archiving games published in the mainstream or with the new challenge of preserving Always Online or Games as a Service titles. It’s truly an uphill battle.

Luckily, there are efforts within these homebrew communities to preserve games as they are created. More specifically in the Game Boy community, there is the Game Boy Development Community’s Homebrew Hub. The Homebrew Hub is a collection of Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance homebrew games that are preserved in a database and playable in a browser! I reached out to Antonio Vivace, the project lead of and Homebrew Hub, to talk about the inspirations for starting the project, the challenges they face, and how you can contribute!

What was the initial spark or circumstances surrounding the start of the project?

Development on Homebrew Hub started in 2017. Its inception was influenced by several factors converging around that time. My growing interest in Game Boy emulators, particularly those capable of running in browsers using JavaScript, coincided with some personal enthusiasm for digital repositories and the preservation of digital artifacts. Observing that the homebrew scene within was quite established but lacked a dedicated platform for archiving and preserving homebrew software, I saw a significant opportunity. Motivated by the need to safeguard these pieces of digital history (and potentially promote new entries), I initiated the Homebrew Hub to systematically archive binaries and metadata of homebrew games and applications, ensuring their accessibility and preservation.

What would you say the biggest challenge is right now for the preservation of modern homebrew games?

The major challenges are:

  1. To build a solid metadata standard that can accommodate the large variety of software that is being produced for retro consoles.
  2. Communicate and convince developers to digitally preserve their work and host it on platforms that can expose proper and standardized metadata.
  3. Develop interfaces with good UX and easy UIs to allow anyone to submit their entries.
  4. Obtain proper metadata and license information about old and new entries.

This is a community-led effort, so in what way could someone interested in contributing help out?

The best way to contribute to Homebrew Hub is to submit your entry and help our database grow:

If you are a Python or React developer, you can also help with the back end and the front end of the project. More information can be found at

You can also donate to our Open Collective: or sponsor us on GitHub:

I really appreciate Antonio Vivace for taking the time to respond to some of my questions! You can find more about his contributions on his GitHub.

As Antonio said, if you’re a part of the Game Boy development community and you don’t already see your game hosted in the database head over to their GitHub page above to add it! They currently have a collection of over 1300 games so if you’re a gamer looking to try out some new games in the Game Boy family, Homebrew Hub is the perfect place!

The Complex Ethics of Preservation

The last thing I wanted to discuss was another main challenge for preservation that we haven’t discussed yet: piracy. The way to preserve any particular game is to have a shareable digital copy of that game. This means that to preserve purchasable games, piracy is a necessity. In the Game Boy homebrew scene, there isn’t any preservation of games being sold commercially, unless of course, the creator has uploaded the game to Homebrew Hub or other archives. This is a very complex issue as no one wants to undermine developers or their potential income but on the other side, it’s really the only long-term solution.

I don’t have an answer for how this should be handled but this specific issue will likely lead to the loss of a large number of homebrew games. In the scenario where a game is sold commercially but doesn’t sell well and the creator leaves the space, that game may be gone forever. It really shows how everyone should be thinking about the long-term preservation of their development projects, as the only way to save every game is for as many people as possible to join the preservation community.

I hope this article brings a new light to the problems facing video game preservation in the Game Boy homebrew scene and how you can start thinking more consciously about ways to avoid losing games forever. I really think we are in a special era of Game Boy game development and many years down the line people will look to these earlier releases, game jams, and publishers to see where it all started and I’d love for all of it to be preserved in history.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the next post.

I’d like to briefly note that I also reached out to The National Museum of Play to see if they know about the homebrew scene and if they accept homebrew submissions for their archive. I think it would be a huge motivator if something as official as a museum would accept submissions for the long-term preservation of this community. I’ll make an update here if I hear back from them!

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[…] Studio GitHub! I’d like to thank everyone who has supported GB Grotto so far! My last post, The Preservation of Homebrew Games really blew up and created a lot of conversation about the topic of modern preservation. If you […]