PSP releases don’t get much bigger than God of War: Ghost of Sparta. The next game in the famous series releases next week, and is sure to do gangbusters at retail.
This fact makes it that much more startling that developer Ready at Dawn’s Ru Weerasuriya is talking about something completely unrelated to the game: rampant piracy of the PSP.
“It’s getting to the point where it doesn’t make sense to make games on it, if the piracy keeps on increasing. It’s a tough call right now to say what’s going to happen to it and where it’s going to go, but it definitely hurts a lot of developers out there who are trying to make great games.”
This, of course, is despite Sony’s consistent firmware updates that seem to do little more than annoy paying customers. Since Mr. Weerasuriya doesn’t know how it is on the DS, I’ll say it for him: it’s brutal. Games are often leaked, in perfectly playable form, before they’re even released, and any protections that are baked in are patched around almost instantaneously. Tens to hundreds of unauthorized games can be placed on a microSD card. This is why Nintendo is going with an automatically updating firmware for their 3DS system.
Piracy – especially of handheld systems – is one of the things causing companies to bring more and more of their business to digital distribution, where users lose the right to trade a game in, and the publisher controls everything. It’s also causing these arbitrary and often borderline draconian anti-piracy policies to be foisted onto paying customers, who are caught in the crossfire. What’s ironic is that the PSP’s library has had arguably its best year – it’s my choice at the moment for System of the Year – despite all this. The same can’t be said for the DS, which has seen the quality of its releases dissipate, and will likely cost us key Japanese games such as Fire Emblem: Shin Monshou no Nazo.
What’s important to note is that neither side is going to back down in this fight, which is unfortunate.