Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
22 August 2006
Sony's anti-PSP-homebrew strategy? (or: jvm was wrong!)
Is Sony encouraging publishers to put out retro collections on the PSP? One might easily get that impression.

It has several retro collections already (Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play, Capcom Classics Remix, Namco Museum Battle Collection) and will soon have two new ones: Activision Hits Remixed with Atari 2600 games and the Sega Genesis Collection. Throw in Taito Legends (promised, but not previewed yet), Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins (covered extensively), Metal Slug Anthology (some previews), and Sony's promise of PSOne games (about which they've remained conspicuously silent lately), and the system looks like a paradise for retro gamers.

Is this part of stopping homebrew? The homebrew hackers are driven by different goals, among them emulation, media playing, and (sadly) piracy. Perhaps Sony has an idea that, if they give the consumer solutions which are good enough, they won't resort to things like firmware downgraders or potentially PSP-bricking hacks to get a media player or an emulator. Without the audience, the homebrew community shrinks.

You've always been able to play video on the PSP, and Sony will likely make more moves in that direction. If Sony sponsors enough emulated arcade and classic console games on the PSP, I surely won't be as interested in looking for MAME and Stella. Those are Sony-sanctioned solutions to two of the areas that homebrew hackers focus on.

This is where Ruffin usually points out I'm not the average gamer and so what I see doesn't extend to the larger crowd. Here, I'd argue that that makes me more likely to play around with firmware downgraders (which I actually have done) and hacks. The averge dude with a PSP isn't necessarily in tune with the whole PSP homebrew underground and isn't going to easily trust some hack he downloaded off a forum somewhere. Since PSP homebrew is nowhere near as easy as having a friend burn you a CD for your Dreamcast, the official options look tempting, not just for weirdo jvm, but even for Joe Consumer.

Now, this isn't to say that Sony gets it. They don't. While I'm hopeful that Activision will again include some popular homebrew Atari 2600 games in its PSP collection, I bet it will not provide the means to download new ones. Sony should be encouraging Activision to do just that. Not only would it give the PSP game some added life (a la downloads for Xbox 360 games), but it would make Sony look like they really do intend to use that wireless networking capability they spent so much money putting into their expensive handheld boondoggle.

The same goes with all the other collections. Namco could have extra games for its Battle Collection, for example. And, while I hate to suggest it, there is no reason that Taito Legends or the Sega Genesis Collection couldn't charge a dollar or three for downloads of games they ... ahem ... "forgot" to put in the version sold in stores. Show some capitalistic tendencies, for crying out loud! Does Microsoft have to be even more successful before you guys catch on?

Finally, I was wrong. There, I said it. It appears that there will be more emulation compilations. But as I should have realized before, these new collections should include network hooks to sell more games to add on to the system later. That splits the difference between Xbox Live Arcade and the old system quite nicely, I think.
--Matt Matthews at 10:17
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