Ready at Dawn: PSP piracy "hurts a lot of developers"

Handheld game-copying is worse than on PC, says God of War dev

God of War: Ghost Of Sparta developer Ready At Dawn has claimed PSP development is endangered by the levels of piracy on Sony's handheld.

"It's pretty rampant now all around the world," creative director Ru Weerasuriya told VG247.

"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."

He felt the situation was now worse even than on PC. "The PC market has had connectivity and multiplayer, which brings down the piracy.

"A lot of the PC games right now require you to be logged into a specific network – like Battle.Net, when I used to work at Blizzard – that controls it, and has made it easy to curb some of that."

Weerasuriya also expressed concern about the prospects for independent studios such as Ready At Dawn, which had to downsize in July.

"It is hard; it's tough that the industry is not at a very healthy level right now, and especially for the last few independents.

"If you're a developer right now and you're owned by a publisher it's hard enough, so imagine what it's like if you're an independent covering all your costs yourself. I don't think it gets easier at any time, but the last two years have been particularly hard."

Ghost Of Sparta will likely be Ready At Dawn's last PSP game, Weersuriya claimed ("We've done the absolute maximum with it"), with the studio now looking to other consoles and potentially its own IP.

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Latest comments (17)

Jordan Lund Columnist 11 years ago
The problem isn't piracy, the problem is a lack of games worth buying. There have only been 50 or 60 PSP games out this year and of those probably only 5 or 6 actually worth buying. The PSP is a zombie system, it's dead, it just doesn't have the good sense to lie down yet.
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Hermann Rauth Game Audio Designer 11 years ago
Just curious, how do they measure piracy?
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 11 years ago
Jordan... You need to play more games, broaden your horizons or at least tip your cap to the developers who've made some of the best games on the platform to date. You almost sound like a GameStop clerk trying to talk a customer out of a PSP purchase (which I've seen happen).

Granted, opinions about what makes a good game are just that at the end of the day. However, you can't deny the quality of many of the games that have come out for the PSP over the past year.

Also, I'd rather see 50-60 assorted games come out on a platform with only a minimum amount of true duds than see a platform get buried under twice that many games (or more, in the case of moblie platforms) with a LOT of shovelware (that seems to sell quite well to budget-minded casual players, families with kids or those who just don't know better).

Amusingly enough, talking to folks that play "bad" games is interesting because most of them manage to get over critical perspectives and focus on beating the game they paid good money for. As the get good at them, those "bad" games actually become better in their eyes. Beer goggles on a teetotaler? Yes, but it's probably a new way for some jaded editors to see WHY some games they wouldn't touch with a ten-foot stylus are appealing to someone else.

Anyway, not counting PSP download-only titles, minis or re-releases, off the top of my head, here's a small amount of what I've played/enjoyed along in 2010:

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Y's Seven
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
Valkyria Chronicles 2
GOW Ghost of Sparta
Persona 3 Portable
Shadow of Destiny
Phantasy Star Portable 2
Lunar - Silver Star Harmony
Ace Combat Joint Assault
Metal Slug XX
Naruto Shippuden UNH 3
I'm no Kingdom Hearts fanatic, but what I played of Birth By Sleep was pretty enjoyable.

As for upcoming stuff, welll... Knights in the Nightmare, Y's the Oath in Felghana, Y's I & II and few more titles are on my radar, but I'm doing this list off the top of my head so i know I'm missing stuff...

By the way, if you actually talk to any developer (PSP or otherwise), you'll see that piracy is a huge issue pretty much everyone has something to say about whether they support "variations" of it or not. Hell, I'm sure if someone was stealing your writing and posting it elsewhere (robbing you of income), you'd be a bit annoyed yourself (I hope)...

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Show all comments (17)
John Blackburne Programmers 11 years ago
Piracy is a serious problem, and it's sad if it's doing to the PSP what it's done to PC gaming: Sony deserve some stick for the lack of direction of the platform but piracy hurts developers who want to support it. It's not hard to measure: if the game dials into a server for updates, achievements or multiplayer then compare that number to the number of sales. Or they can be tracked by serial numbers/keys, if games show up without them, or with keys not given out by the company, or if the same key is used thousands of time as it was distributed with a pirated copy. Developers only need to determine the proportion playing without valid keys, from which they can extrapolate total numbers.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 11 years ago
I've always thought that as a games platform FIRST, the PSP is solid (hell, more than solid). All that other stuff, from UMD movies (which were a good idea at first, but many of the movies were overpriced) to turning the unit into an over-packed multimedia hub (nightmare, if you ask me) should have been left off the handheld and only made available (as paid updates) to those that wanted the extras.

Sure, the platform isn't perfect, but some user gripes are oddball ones. Folks bitching about the one analog stick? Er, where were you during the 90's when analog control wasn't an option at all in a portable device? Most PSP games work fine (there are some notable exceptions, yes) on the unit in terms of control and/or control options. Besides, the PSP was never meant to be a portable PS2, something Sony never really addressed outright as far as I can tell (although they didn't need to - it's safe to say they assumed smart gamers and game journalists would figure this fact out).

Nintendo had the right idea with their GameBoy lineup way back when... until they killed the name and started cramming features into the newer DS models. Sure, it's great to have devices that can do it all (or SOME of it all), but from a core gaming perspective, there needs to be a step backward where developers get the spotlight, not the latest app or update that turns a system into a bad clone of another company's product (which is flawed in the first place). The way things are going, I'm waiting for the Nintendo3DPhone to come out in 2013-2014, at which point I'm headed for the nearest window (and tossing all my systems and games out).

Er... back on topic:

I've had an idea for a while that every retail release should have some sort of two-step registration code (a mix of point of sale registration and consumer entry at home or elsewhere). Hell, major retailers control inventory/theft this way (er... sometimes), so applying a version of this tracking to retail releases seems like a good thing.

Of course, this isn't totally feasible for a few reasons. As a security measure "forcing" a buyer to register a game's serial number before it's played make sense (and yes, will help track actual sales), but if that player has no means of going online, buys a game in another country (which should count anyway - sold is sold) or happens to be the younger recipient of a game gift he or she has no idea how to register, those are problems that need to be addressed (among others).

I've heard and read some damn stupid excuses for piracy and at the end of the day (hell, at the beginning of the day), NONE make any sort of sense. "Legally" claiming that a misreading of any EULA justifies outright copying and redistributing software ("It's only data and data can't be sold!" I recall one idiot on the EDGE boards rambling on and on about) is just a pure weasel-ass move, period. Funny that the other common argument, "Games are too expensive!" is used by folks who've paid good money for PC's they own to rip off developers and happen to have enough bandwidth (they're paying for as well) to do as much theft as they want to.
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Temi Web design 11 years ago
Piracy is everywhere and yet its the psp that is failing because of it? I bet sony would blame piracy should the ps3 not surpass the current competition later on.

IMO their problem is trying to recreate a home console in a handheld. Not only does the handheld not lend itself well to that, but mobile gaming is not about that. I really doubt sony can think small enough to grasp the concept. Doubt we will see sony selling games at $1 in a sony store. I know the ds has more expensive games than 1$ but they are better suited for mobile gaming IMO.

I will argue that the psp was saved as a console by it's hacking. Without the games worth buying, what else would shift hardware but extended features
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Jamie Watson Studying Bachelor of Games & Interactive Entertainment, Queensland University of Technology11 years ago
people who say piracy is the problem just dont know how to make good game,yes it some what of a problem but its just like drugs: it will always be there so theres no point fighting it.

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.11 years ago
Jamie, making better games won't help much. The pirates will pirate a game regardless of how good the games are.

And flooding the market with to many good games doesn't work either as their is only a finite volume of spending to go around.
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Laurent Benadiba CEO, SDP Games11 years ago
Well well well. First I'm not sure it's worth commenting any argument going towards the "make better game or they wouldn't be pirated" direction. Why? Because if they were bad game, would people bother pirating, and playing them?

Second of course everyone needs to make great games. That's a given and the reason to live for most of us. So what would it prevent piracy you believe? It's like asking for better and better products in a mall with high shoplifting rate. How about some security instead ??
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Stefan Romberg Software Development Engineer, Nintendo of Europe11 years ago
Making Games is a serious investment. And companies make games for profit - that's how they pay their bills after all. Investments need to be protected. Companies will simply not invest into any platform when they fear losing their money.

The bad part about piracy is that potential customers enjoy playing games without rewarding those guys who put a lot of efforts and money into it. And this cannot be true for bad games. Think about it. Its not about bad or good games, its about getting stuff without paying for it and spending the money elsewhere - pretty simple.
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Logan Borsos11 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

"Sure, the platform isn't perfect, but some user gripes are oddball ones. Folks bitching about the one analog stick? Er, where were you during the 90's when analog control wasn't an option at all in a portable device?"

You've got to be kidding me. How can you sit there and honestly say that having only one analog stick is an oddball gripe?

Sure portable game consoles in the past didn't have analog sticks at all, but those games didn't have first person shooters (or any other type of game that uses two analog sticks) on them. When you have a market of people that have spent 10+ years playing on your playstation one and two consoles with two analog sticks, there is absolutely NO reason to take the technological step backward to not include a second analog stick. It's like taking an Xbox 360 or other console and only issuing Atari style joysticks. You just don't do it, and it's the main reason why I haven't bought the console in the first place.

Honestly, I thought someone in the industry like yourself would understand that.
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Shane Sweeney Academic 11 years ago
We need more pirate party leaders represented in this site. haha.

Obviously a lot of people from the software/music/film industry are all going to be anti piracy. Its largely scape goating.
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Temi Web design 11 years ago

It doesn't even fit what they are trying to achieve with the system. The games they make and expect to sell would do better with 2 sticks so why have 1
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 11 years ago

I'm 46 and have been playing games since 1972, so I can say that you're a little bit wrong.

Does that market of "people" you refer to ONLY play games on the PSP? I think not, dude. Sure, a NEW user who owns a PS3 or other console might have an issue with the lone analog, but I know quite a lot of gamers with MULTIPLE platforms and they tend to flick back and forth without much of a problem.

OK, I lied. they have no problem at all because they know the difference between sitting on a couch with a screen eight feet away and holding a portable in your hands.

Sadly, some people have mind-fucked themselves over the PSP "missing" an analog stick when again, it's part of the design you're supposed to not only get accustomed to, it makes CLEAR that you're not playing a portable PS or PS2. Hell, even if it's a port, you may need to "relearn" a thing or two, but so what?

My point is it's not a TECHNOLOGICAL issue to not have an extra analog stick - a good developer can make nearly ANY control setup work. Would you be saying in ten years that "no one NEEDS analog sticks because all games are touchscreen operated!"? I hope not.

For the record, there was at least ONE first-person shooter on the original GameBoy (Faceball) and surprisingly, it played quite well. The GameBoy Advance had a number of good FPS experiences (Duke Nukem Advance, Doom, Doom II, a few more I can't recall off the top of my head) and there are quite a few on the DS as well (go pick up a copy of Dementium II, MOON or even the more RPG-like Orcs & Elves for example).

On the Turbo Express, you could play Silent Debuggers, Faceball (again!) or Double Dungeons, Duke Nukem 3D made it to the Mega Drive in Brazil, and you had Zero Tolerance, Star Cruiser, Battle Frenzy and a few Mega CD first-person games such as BattleCorps and Dungeon Master. Even DOOM and Faceball 2000 (four-player death-matches and all) made it to the SNES and were actually pretty decent. I'd ramble on about the PlayStation (pre-analog) and Saturn with a detour into the single stick N64 territory, but I'm working on a few articles at the moment.

Want a REALLY obscure FPS experience? OK: get an Atari Lynx (which already had a FPS in Xybots and a few flight/racing games that showed off the scaling quite well) and track down a copy of the car combat extravaganza that is Battle Wheels. In the game, set enemies to ON FOOT and choose your character as ON FOOT, hit start and guess what, you have a FPS on the Lynx (for up to 8 players if you all had systems and ComLynx cables).

Not to mention Rebellion's Alien versus Predator was in development for the Lynx and it was coming along quite well when it got canned (played the demo build and it was quite impressive). AVP did hit the Jaguar and it was solid and scary. And yes, the Jag had Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and a few other first-person experiences (sans analog control).

Anyway, hope that helps you take a new view of the PSP. If not, hell, I tried my best (takes his +10 Smart-Ass Samaritan Bonus and logs out...)

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Logan Borsos11 years ago
@Greg Wilcox

"Does that market of "people" you refer to ONLY play games on the PSP? I think not, dude. Sure, a NEW user who owns a PS3 or other console might have an issue with the lone analog, but I know quite a lot of gamers with MULTIPLE platforms and they tend to flick back and forth without much of a problem. "

The console should be able to stand on it's own without having to rely on other consoles to be played on. The PSP should not be a back up console to play only when you aren't home.

The Nintedo DS has a touch screen that helps greatly with turning in the first person view, although not nearly as well as analog stick, but at least you aren't using A, B, X, and Y to look around like you do on the PSP (Except the PSP uses shapes instead of letters.)
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Benjamin Collins11 years ago
I think the game industry needs to take a hint from Blockbuster. Why would I get in my car, drive thirty minutes to go rent a movie, that may or may not be there, argue with a jack ass sales clerk over late fees, and then come home to find the disk is scratched when I can find the movie online for free in five minutes by searching on google? I'm all for supporting the creators of the film, but it's like freaking charity.
Why are pirates providing a better service than something you pay for? I think that in the game/music/film industry marketing is really lacking. You have a target audience, you need a distribution method and price that appeals to them, which is why Netflix is doing so well right now. They provide a good service and at a great value. Basically what I'm saying is Sony fucking blew it with the PSPgo. They need to put the system out of its misery and move onto PSP2. Hopefully with a price point that people can actually afford.
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Laurent Benadiba CEO, SDP Games11 years ago
Benjamin, I agree with some of what you said. Though it's not entirely true, most or piracy is much more uncomfortable than buying. PC games for examples, easy to buy & download on any site, on steam etc. Much more difficult to crack, you need torrents, hours of download, getting unwanted viruses, etc. Yet many people pirate PC games.

So 'practicity' might be a part of it, but not the main reason in my opinion.
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