Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
25 December 2006
Sony fails the Napster test, PSOne emulator in the wild
Today some PSP owners can play many PSOne games on their PSPs -- reportedly with perfect speed, sound, and graphics -- without Sony's blessing. A hacked firmware on certain models allows the use of Sony's own emulator to play rips of original PSOne games. And, so, Sony caps off an awful year by failing to understand that when a market for your product appears you must seize it immediately or the world will leave you behind with empty pockets.

This is a lesson the RIAA and its members had to learn the hard way via Napster, Limewire, and all the other file-sharing networks that thrived on the public's desire for digital music downloads. While they looked in vain for a perfect solution to protecting their copyrights, they forgot that people are willing to pay for music, but those same people have limited patience.

Three steps I'll suggest are often necessary for winning your market:
  1. Get your own product out there early.
  2. Make it accessible.
  3. Price it attractively.
Sony has failed on two of these three counts.
  1. It has had the PSP out for over 18 months (in the U.S.) and still hasn't addressed the demand for emulated PSOne games on the handheld -- a demand that Sony itself drove when it announced that it had such plans.
  2. It has yet to make the few emulated games it has released accessible to the majority existing PSP users, myself included. Instead, users have to first own a PlayStation 3, through which they can purchase the games and then transfer them to a PSP.
  3. It has only succeeded in making its own product reasonably priced, with games costing around $6 each.
At $700 to get in ($500 for a PS3 and $200 for a PSP), its understandable that the existence of games but inability to get them has driven demand to this point. I know I'm tired of waiting.

I have no idea what Sony does now. I guess if the games that people download on the PlayStation Network are really just rips of PSOne games running in a universal emulator, then Sony needs to get that emulator out quick or lose any chance of cashing in on this situation. If it were available for purchase right now, I'd pony up for it. I'd even pay for a nice application that would take care of ripping my existing games to a handy format so I could play them with a minimum of hassle.

If Sony is selling enhanced, improved versions of PSOne games for use in their emulator, then they still need to get that stuff out and soon. They need to explain how their versions are superior to the versions we can all buy used in our local stores. They need to justify the cost somehow. (Networked Twisted Metal 2 would be nice, while I'm wishing.)

The current state is unacceptable. They've built a user base of PSP owners, simultaneously teased and neglected them, and now the market has moved past them to provide what Sony won't. Do something Sony. Anything.

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--Matt Matthews at 22:28
Comment [ 1 ]

Comments on this post:

Knowing Sony, they'll just try and kill the firmware hack that allows the emulator to run, and the arms race will continue.

By Anonymous Crusader, at 27 December, 2006 11:23  

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