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Friday, July 07, 2006

PSP Homebrew Versus Sony

Are Sony's constant attempts to lock down the homebrew community actually detrimental to the platform in general? MSNBC reports that many PSP users avoid buying new games or getting updates to keep their homebrews a-brewin':

So lively is the homebrew scene that some PSP fans — it's impossible to say how many — say they don't buy or play new games because they don't want to upgrade their gadgets and lose their homebrew software. There's even a circulating joke slogan: "Friends don't let friends upgrade their PSPs."Unable to break through recent versions of the Sony software, PSP homebrewers have moved on to another trick: downgrading their PSPs to earlier versions.Thanks to a new file recently posted on the Web, PSP owners with version 2.6 software are able to roll back their devices to the more hacker-friendly software version 1.5. And if any recent game title for the Sony device has generated as much excitement online as this underground developer's announcement, I missed it.
-- 'Homebrew' community blends hackers, gamers

Perhaps it's a sign of the PSP's lackluster library that people would prefer their homebrews ... but it's clearly a sign of the popular nature of the trend. How long can the companies keep fighting the hobbyist if it still hurts sales to lock down the system?

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jvm said...

I have yet to find a PSP homebrew app that's worth the time and trouble. All this guff about homebrew is really about one thing: piracy. Be it emulation (of which 99.9% is to run games people don't own) or UMD rips, that's the driving force behind any PSP homebrew scene.

Hold up all the Lua apps and tetris clones you want, those don't amount to a hill of beans.

Josh said...

And that's my fear of the dirty underbelly of homebrews, that there's not enough of a legit sector within to to justify my hobbyist manifesto.

I just hope that perhaps an embrace and extend methodology here might solve both problems. Put something legit and useful for the good guys to make something really useful and perhaps at the same time piggyback something on the SDK that would "tag" it as legit, seperating it from the emus and rips.

But I may be a-dreaming.

Weefz said...

Most homebrew runners I know who are into games eventually caved and bought two PSPs - one for homebrew (don't ask me what he runs on it, none of it sounds that exciting to me) and one for UMD games. I doubt it's hurting sales much.

jvm said...

The only company with the guts to provide a path to legitimate homebrew is Nintendo. Look for it next year on the Wii.

DarthPixel said...

I fail to see how Nintendo, with the DS, is behaving any better than Sony.

Their platform is absolutely proprietary. Their protocols are closed and undocumented. They have extremely worded legal contracts that bind third-party developers. They only want to contract with established developers with a significant track record of success. They send lawyers after anyone who tries to build something on top of any of their IPs.

How is Nintendo more supportive of homebrew development?

I would like to know.

Thomas said...

For one thing, Nintendo hasn't forced firmware upgrades on people that disable homebrew support. Their API may be officially undocumented, but it's surprising what people have managed to uncover so far--I think almost all of the device's functions have been mapped out, and Nintendo (to their credit) has not forced those projects to shut down.

There's a difference between protecting their intellectual property against theft and keeping people from using the hardware. Nintendo's pretty low key on the latter--and I don't see any reasonable argument that they shouldn't continue the former.

Sure, it's harder to get homebrew running on newer firmwares. But they've never put out a game that required the newer code, even though they probably could. Compared to Sony's active and constant opposition to homebrew, that's quite a difference, don't you think?

DarthPixel said...

Wait until they find out it allows people to play their games for free and you will see if they react any differently.

Sony had to react because the primary (side) effect of PSP homebrew projects forstered piracy.

If homebrew projects ever make the DS unprofitable, Nintendo will behave just the same.
It's business. Nintendo is not a philanthropic organization, contrary to what the masses seem to think these days.

Thomas said...

I don't think anyone's saying they are. But I'm not sure how Nintendo couldn't be aware that the homebrew effort also allows piracy--primarily of GBA games still, but DS games and demos are also pirated. The demos are even distributed freely online.

Sure, they're a business, but different companies react differently to this kind of thing. Seems hard to me to compare them to post-rootkit Sony.

jvm said...

For the record: I merely predicted that Nintendo will foster homebrew (or, more specifically, hobbyist developers) on the Wii.

I don't know, nor care, what Nintendo does on the DS. But their laisser-faire attitude leads me to have for faith that they understand how to tap a new market more than Sony.

Josh said...

I still hope that Opera DS may have potential for hobbyists, albeit that statement comes from a professional web developer ... so take it with a grain of salt and couple of aspirin.