Limited Run Games: There’s Still Demand For Physical Media, But Not In “Traditional Way”

The future of physical media looks very... limited.

Story Highlights

  • Limited Run Games is an American distributor that sells limited quantities of physical releases.
  • Since its launch in 2015, the company has already released thousands of video games.
  • We spoke with Alena Alambeigi, the VP of Marketing & Digital Publishing, over an email Q&A session.

Limited Run Games is an American video game distributor that emerged in 2015. It was initially launched to preserve the digitally released games of one of the company founders. Following the success of producing physical versions of its titles, Limited Run Games released its first third-party title, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty! Since then, the company has launched the physical versions of over 1,000 games. 

Considering the recent trend of publishers moving on to digital-only releases, the existence of distributors like Limited Run Games has become even more significant. To learn more about how the company plans to move into the future and promote video game preservation, we spoke with Alena Alambeigi, the VP of Marketing & Digital Publishing at Limited Run Games, over an email interview

Breach and Clear
Breach and Clear Was Launched Over A Decade Ago – Image Credits: Mighty Rabbit Studios.
Could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your role at Limited Run Games?

Alena: Hello, I’m Alena, the VP of Marketing & Digital Publishing at Limited Run Games. I’ve been with Limited Run for a little over 3 years, but I’ve been working in video games for around 10. Right now, my role is very focused on LRG’s digital publishing efforts, the successful launch of our Carbon Engine, and the funding of new indie titles.

In an era where many companies have shifted away from physical media, what motivated Limited Run Games to focus on creating physical editions of video games?

Alena: The Limited Run was started by Josh Fairhurst from want of preserving his own first indie game, Breach and Clear. The thought of not having anything physical to show for the hard work he and the developers put into the game, or worse yet, the game being inaccessible from digital store closure, is how LRG got started. Breach and Clear was LRG’s first game, and it sold out in under two hours. That proved that developers and consumers still had an appetite for physical media.

How do you see your commitment to contributing to video game preservation?

Alena: Physical game media certainly isn’t the end-all to video game preservation, but it is a key component. Limited Run has published thousands of physical games, and a large majority of those games wouldn’t exist physically if we hadn’t. Most of the heavy lifting of our preservation efforts comes from our carbon engine. VGHF states that around 87% of classic games are at risk of being endangered. With Carbone Engine, we’re taking classic titles, enhancing them, and releasing them for modern consoles — with a physical component, of course. We’re releasing games that never made it to North America, like River City Girls Zero, games that are rare and expensive, like Tomba, and games like Jurassic Park Classic Games Collection, which are difficult to play authentically without retro hardware.

Alan Wake 2
Alan Wake 2 Only Had A Digital Launch – Image Credits: Remedy Entertainment.
Limited Run Games has been instrumental in video game preservation, but how exactly is it decided which games you would release physically? Are you often approached by the developers/publishers, or do you select the titles that meet certain criteria?

Alena: It’s pretty much a mix of all of the above. While we do believe all games deserve to have a physical release, this is a business, and each game has to have some kind of physical demand. Sometimes, we’ll look at how rare the game is. Previously, if someone wanted to own and play Shantae (GBC) or Tomba! (PS1) They’d have to shell out hundreds of dollars for something that wasn’t even complete in the box. Those are two examples of great games that we thought people should be able to own for an affordable price and in a way that the original creators get paid for their hard work.

Is there really a lack of demand for physical media, as many studios claim? And if so, where do you think physical media would stand in around a decade or so?

Alena: We absolutely know there’s still demand for physical media, but not in the traditional way. In a decade or so, I could see even more companies adopting the limited model. There will always be people who want to own their media without the risk of it being delisted or taken away. If we lose physical video games, we lose something very special.

Why do you think big studios don't invest as much in physical releases? Are the resources required really so high that they cannot afford despite expecting big profits?

Alena: There are a few reasons. With the rise of digital sales and the current state of big box retailers, it becomes less worth it for companies to do it the traditional way. If they can make a lot off of digital and not worry about excess inventory, manufacturing, costs, etc… Why would they go that route? This is why we’re seeing more companies partnering with us. Our model is the solution to those problems since we only print to demand, and we’re turn-key for them. After all the operation costs and fees it takes to sell at a traditional retailer, companies end up with very little for a lot of work. The games themselves cost a lot more to make than they did in the golden age of retail, so limited distribution is just an adaptation of where the market is now. In a lot of cases, it’s limited or nothing.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon Physical Version Was Released Exclusively By Limited Run Games – Image Credits: Ubisoft Montreal.
One thing that many gamers don't like is the limited quantity of copies and the time frame in which they can get the game. What are the reasons we see the limited runs? And is there anything that prevents scalpers from ruining the experience for collectors?

Alena: I think the above answers why the limited model is prevalent. We used to pre-manufacture a limited number of copies and sell them. A lot of fans missed out this way. With timed pre-orders, we can get it in the hands of everyone who buys while being able to start manufacturing within a reasonable timeframe. Reselling is a byproduct of anything limited; it’s not unique to video games. By opening our pre-orders, the goal is for everyone who wants a copy of a game to be able to get it at MSRP. We do sell leftover copies of our games in our retail store in Cary, North Carolina, at events like PAX, and on our website during our blowout sale.

Limited Run Games has a dedicated fan base that eagerly anticipates each physical release. How does the company engage with its community to understand its preferences and ensure that its preservation efforts align with the interests of gamers?

Alena: We’re always gathering feedback online from various different places. We’ve made a lot of changes in the last few years based on our customer feedback. One thing we always try to do is include all possible content in our physical releases. This isn’t always possible for various reasons (i.e., sometimes the developer will decide to make DLC afterward), but it’s a high priority that we take seriously.

With the rapid advancement of technology and the constant evolution of gaming platforms, how does Limited Run Games ensure compatibility and accessibility for its physical releases in the long term, especially when it comes to updating the Carbon Engine?

Alena: We’ve proudly hired top-tier engineering talent on Carbon Engine. Between Dimitris Giannakis (Modern Vintage Gamer) and Randy Linden, who are regarded as some of the top players in emulation and porting, we know the tech is in very good hands.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers? Something we haven't touched upon yet.

Alena: We want to thank everyone who supports physical media and us!

YouTube video

There is no doubt that the gaming industry is moving towards a digital-only release format, with many publishers like Ninja Theory and Remedy Entertainment, with Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 and Alan Wake 2 skipping physical releases. During these times, it is great to have companies like Limited Run Games, which has done significant work to keep physical media alive.

We thank Alena Alambeigi and Josh Fairhurst for taking their time and hopping on this interview.

Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Mudassir is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the stories behind our favorite virtual worlds. Armed with a trusty notepad and a keen curiosity, he dives headfirst into the gaming industry's most exciting personalities. His knack for insightful questions and his ability to connect with developers and gamers alike makes his interviews a must-read. While on the lookout for the next person to interview, Mudassir keeps himself busy by writing news surrounding the gaming universe. Experience: 4+ Years || Senior Journalist || Education: Bachelor's in Psychology.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.