In the video game community, the term “Homebrew” can often be a little confusing. Originally, this term was coined for software or video games developed in a non-commercial setting by a single person or small team. Since then the term was grown to include any software that is developed for use on older or outdated proprietary hardware. It should be distinguished that there are several different types of software commonly referred to under the “retro indie” label. Below we have written OUR definition of each type.

Note: Our definitions relate specifically to physically produced “retro indie” games and do not include freeware or other digital only ROMs


The Categories of “Retro Indies”

 

Retro Indie Games

This is new software commonly developed from the ground up by an individual or small team for use on a specific console. The developer then decides to produce physical versions of these games for commercial sale, either through self-publishing or with the help of a publisher. Currently, this is the only type of “Homebrew” sold by The Bit Station.

Prototypes:

This is abandoned or uncompleted software that was originally underdevelopment during a specific console’s active lifespan by a commercial company. Those in the hobbyist community commonly create physical versions of these games for use on official hardware using the unfinished ROM files. The legality of this practice is highly questionable, especially if these games are sold to the public.

Finished Prototypes:

This is software that has been completed using existing assets found in the original coding or through the use of completely new coding. Commonly this practice is done by individuals or small companies that have legally obtained the rights to the prototype for the intention of later selling the game in physical or digital form.


Duplicates or Bootlegs:

This is software that has had the original ROM copied for the purpose of reproducing a game. The most common use for this practice is for the physical reproduction of rare or highly demanded games. Outside of personal use, this practice is illegal and commonly frowned upon by the gaming community.

Translations:

This is software that was originally produced for a specific region, but was never commercially released outside of that region. Due to a language barrier, the game was deemed unplayable by people outside of that region. Through the use of fan produced translation patches, the game becomes playable for those outside of the originally produced region. The physical production of these games is legally questionable, unless the producer has purchased the game or obtained legal permission from the game’s owner.

Hacks:

This is software produced by altering or adding to the original ROM coding. This can result in anything from minor changes to a games design to a completely new game. The physical production of these games is legally questionable outside of personal use.