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console giants stance on indie development

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Sony, microsoft and nintendo dont want people development software for free because of security issues and money. There is a simple solution to the problem where everyone can benefit. As it appears to me. The PSP flopped. Why? It had no content. €60 games and stupid UMD movies. It was riddled with security flaws and the public managed to do some development on it. Thats why i purchased one and i got stuff running :D. Look at this scenario: Sony release a PSP emulator and a compiler to the pc. People make software for this emulator. When they have made something interesting they submit it to sony. Sony evaluate the software and decide what to do with it (price? who gets money?). If they release it, they sign the code and put on their site for download to your PSP. the psp now has tons of content and the homebrew stuff is monitored. Instead, they have viruses floating around and no content, great! I beleive the same process could be done for the ps3/360/rev. Another benefit is free training. There will be more developers looking for jobs who are gurus at console development. Games would be better from the start. Im not saying the system is full proof but i think it is definitely worth the risk. Once every is hooked on the free/cheap content they can raise the price. What do you think?

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Thats basically how xbox live works and "PS3 live" will work. In fact, most companies work like that, except for the fact that the SDK's for each system cost an arm and a leg. The good part is you can port a game fairly easy to most of the new consoles because they are just computers in a different case. So make a game, once its good enough to earn some money, buy the SDK, and watch the royalties build up. Oh wait, this isn't a dream world... there are risks involved just like every other business in the world. This works the same, it costs money to make money and nothing is free.

Also, if emulators were free to download, why would people ask Sony to release a game. Why not have people download it off your site?

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yeah sounds a good idea to me, would certainly help to combat alot of issues, but ive a feeling it's been brought up before...

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The problem is that Sony make money off the licensed games, not free/unlicensed homebrew. They charge devs a lot of money plus royalties for official games. The console itself costs more to manufactuer than the actual retail price (forget the actual figures). Even if monitored, homebrew is still homebrew and Sony will lose money rather than make it. More homebrew would mean more people will buy the PSP just for that, or buy less games than they normally would. It would be good for Sony, PR-wise, but it would be a pretty bad situation profit-wise.

This is why Sony are sort of strong-arming people to only be able to play official games.

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i didnt say the homebrew would be free.
Terms and conditions, you make your silly 2d side scroller, submit it to sony, they release it for $x, at very little cost to them.

Im talking about little things which are good for a laugh. Imagine channel4 games available on your ps3 for download. Its a reason to subscribe to an online service.

If sony feel the game is too good and compromises existing titles, they dont release it. Simple. Sony control the homebrew. Free developers.

The emulator would be debug and slow and awkward. Basically, the system doesnt harm anyone but removes irritating indie hackers who want to develope for consoles.

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ehh... did the psp flop? I know from umd it did, but games, it is great... when I bought mine, I didnt think I was going to buy a music/movie player, I bought it for games, and I could not be happier!

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Original post by Riviera Kid
i didnt say the homebrew would be free.
Terms and conditions, you make your silly 2d side scroller, submit it to sony, they release it for $x, at very little cost to them.

Im talking about little things which are good for a laugh. Imagine channel4 games available on your ps3 for download. Its a reason to subscribe to an online service.

If sony feel the game is too good and compromises existing titles, they dont release it. Simple. Sony control the homebrew. Free developers.

The emulator would be debug.


That would be better for them I guess. I thill think they'd be opposed with the idea, simply because an emulator/public SDK would make it easier for "hackers" and the like to make homebrew that wouldnt be distributed by sony.

Obviously, your idea would be ideal! Unfortunatelly, big companies are money-grubbing and like to control what the users will and won't use. If they feel a released SDK would facilitate the developpement of illegal* homebrew (emulators, iso loaders). I just don't see it happening, not with Sony IMHO. :)

*I know technically emulators aren't illegal, but big companies like to say they are anyway. just trying to put myself in their shoes :D

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Original post by wilhil
ehh... did the psp flop? I know from umd it did, but games, it is great... when I bought mine, I didnt think I was going to buy a music/movie player, I bought it for games, and I could not be happier!


maybe it sold some units, maybe it sold some good games.

But the system itself, crap, and expensive. You cant even browse your pc harddrive via wireless because they wanted to sell them stupid memory sticks.

Its a very expensive system, most people cant afford to even buy games.

The gameboy advance still sells more. I heard it isnt making much money for sony (the psp that is).

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I just looked at a psp homebrew site.

There were over 200 homebrew games / ports. I think they are all legal, i.e. doom ports dont contain doom content, just binary.

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Original post by Riviera Kid
Quote:
Original post by wilhil
ehh... did the psp flop? I know from umd it did, but games, it is great... when I bought mine, I didnt think I was going to buy a music/movie player, I bought it for games, and I could not be happier!


maybe it sold some units, maybe it sold some good games.

But the system itself, crap, and expensive. You cant even browse your pc harddrive via wireless because they wanted to sell them stupid memory sticks.

Its a very expensive system, most people cant afford to even buy games.

The gameboy advance still sells more. I heard it isnt making much money for sony (the psp that is).


but that does not mean in failed just because something else sells more.

the psp is making a loss per unit, (I think) it is the same with ALL consoles, they are sold at a loss to the manufacturers so that they can sell games at a profit, same with printers are subsidised so that they can sell ink.

I am sure the psp did not ail, it may be expensive, I personally prefear my DS, however the psp is far superior to any handheld console I played when you look at graphics, however I do not think it failed at all, it may be expensive, but still, I think it is worth every penny, as for the memory stick..... it is so you can upgrade later, change over sticks..... every console in the last x years has used some kind of memory stick (excluding gameboy and DS), frankly no console can browse your hard drive!

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Original post by Riviera Kid
I just looked at a psp homebrew site.

There were over 200 homebrew games / ports. I think they are all legal, i.e. doom ports dont contain doom content, just binary.


Yeah I've seen a lot too. You wouldnt be able to sell the ports though (license problems) nor could you with emus. Only original content. Still, there's still quite a handful! I'm not saying some of them aren't good enough to be sold (I'm sure some are for a few dollars), but that I think it would be unlikely to make a realistic profit that would make up for the risk (what Sony considers a risk, mind you) of opening up the hardware even more and letting more piracy in.

I guess what I find weird is:

If you can find excellent independant media players, simple drum machines, FTP programs, homemade games and other software for free for Windows, Mac, Palm, Linus and others, why would PSP be the only platform where nearly all of it's better software (as in, Sony-approved) cost something? Granted it would only be a few dollars, people are lazy, or don't have the capability to pay stuff online. On the right you see all this free software on the other platforms, and on the left you need to pay for it for the exact same quality of software. Sony have shown they're pretty serious about keeping homebrew off the PSP, using firmware "upgrades". They desperatelly want control, and a public domain SDK won't prevent the illegal homebrew from being released underground, under the legal homebrew.

Then again, maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about. It's just my gut feeling, as a 1.5 PSP owner, and needing to avoid all the firmware updates which prevent more and more homebrew from being used.

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You can't make a console title purely on an emulator. You can maybe get an initial prototype up and running, but the massive advantage of a console over the PC is your ability to tune your title directly to the (fixed) hardware.

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Original post by Riviera Kid
i didnt say the homebrew would be free.
Terms and conditions, you make your silly 2d side scroller, submit it to sony, they release it for $x, at very little cost to them.

I think you need to redefine 'very little cost'.

There is both a real money cost and a serious business risk to that proposal.
Quote:
Original post by Riviera Kid
Im talking about little things which are good for a laugh. Imagine channel4 games available on your ps3 for download. Its a reason to subscribe to an online service.
Imagine a game that (intentionally or accidently) floods or otherwise degrades their online service. Imagine a rogue game that exploits a hardware flaw. Or that accidently hits a flaw that fries the unit. Imagine a game that (intentionally or accidently) formats or corrupts the memory card. Imagine the support calls they are going to get when your indie game has problems. Imagine the testing they will have to do (the QA list is rather big) to make sure it works on all versions of the platform. Imagine the risk of their DRM system breaking because some smart people sent in a few games specifically for a cryptanalysis attack.

Those are all fairly expensive and risky to the company.
Quote:
Original post by Riviera Kid
If sony feel the game is too good and compromises existing titles, they dont release it. Simple. Sony control the homebrew. Free developers.

The emulator would be debug and slow and awkward. Basically, the system doesnt harm anyone but removes irritating indie hackers who want to develope for consoles.

No, it's not just about the existing titles, and those 'irritating indie hackers' aren't a problem, the problem is the people who break the DRM and release it to the pirate community, or manufacture mod chips for the pirate community, and (most specifically) those who pirate copies of games.

They would need some way to allow indie games to run, without giving the ability for the commercial games to have something stripped off or decoded and being pirated and run. The profit margin is very small, and the risk of increased piracy means less games will be made.

They have to test those indie and homebrew apps. Sony does *significant* QA on everything they put their name on, and the book of requirements to pass QA is this thick (holds fingers apart). They can't simply control the homebrew, as you put it, because they would have to pay a small fortune in QA. The last thing Sony wants is to have their reputation tarnished by a few stupid hackers that exploit a flaw and get the bad code distributed by Sony.

They will get support phone calls. Even if the box has big bold warning "UNSUPPORTED -- CONTACT Riviera Kid at email@example.com" they will still end up fielding some support calls. Part of the expense and royalties cover that.

They aren't going to risk a program accidently (or intentionally) corrupting a memory stick or hard disk, or accessing a flaw on a specific version of the hardware.

They aren't going to pay the money to test the game on new hardware/software updates.


There are countless other business risks that they would be taking, and expenses that you didn't consider. I don't see anybody doing this any time soon.

OTOH, there are several active indie groups that you should check out, each with fairly big customer followings, as posted on this and other threads.

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The problem is that Sony make money off the licensed games, not free/unlicensed homebrew.

You also need to understand that Sony et al. are creating an entertainment experience and are putting a lot of branding and development efforts behind a console for it to reach what we call a "tipping point". There is thus an incentive to protect that investment through DRM, UMD, and other proprietary mechanism for at least through that crucial period. If you freely open a platform to any and all developers, you are basically surrendering your entertainment experience value, and your console becomes a brandless commodity item. That's one reason why they are very selective in the titles they pick and support on their platforms, at least initially. The other reason is purely economical. If there is too many game suppliers chasing around a finite number of consumers, sooner or later each supplier sees its share of the whole pie drop and so are its incentives to deliver proper games or even support the platform at all.

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All these ports and emulators get boring quick :P Take it from me, ive been in the pocketpc area for a while.

Playing Chrono trigger 30 times or Doom for the nth time gets really boring!

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Quote:
Original post by Riviera Kid
i didnt say the homebrew would be free.
Terms and conditions, you make your silly 2d side scroller, submit it to sony, they release it for $x, at very little cost to them.

Im talking about little things which are good for a laugh. Imagine channel4 games available on your ps3 for download. Its a reason to subscribe to an online service.

If sony feel the game is too good and compromises existing titles, they dont release it. Simple. Sony control the homebrew. Free developers.

The emulator would be debug and slow and awkward. Basically, the system doesnt harm anyone but removes irritating indie hackers who want to develope for consoles.


I don't think it's Sony thinking the game is "too good", it's that they don't want their system littered with crap.

They already plan a system for what you're talking about, they unveiled it at GDC, but it's not just "any homebrew crap can be released". It's "quality indie titles can be made for download".

And as far as removing "irritating indie hackers", I don't think Sony gives two shites about these people... let them do their silly hacking, but if you push it too far they have to crack down (if you don't protect your copyright, you lose it).

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Why don't simply get a GP2X?

You can make anything you want with it, it's only like $190, and it has Linux. Excepting the 'official' basic libs that I've downloaded from the official SDK, all my SDK (compiler, additional libraries) was cross compiled by myself unsing the devkit script. It's simply so easy to begin developing things on it, and you get a mp3/movie/ebook player and picture viewer along with all. I've even ported the Chicken Scheme runtime to it, so I can use a functional language to create apps on it.

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Superpig hit the nail on the head. With an outdated system like the PSP I could see how you could MAYBE create your game on an emulator, but with next-gen systems like the 360 and the PS3, there is no way to do it on your home pc with some emulator and expect it to perform well once dropped onto the actual system.

The reason that console developers charge lots of money for their devkits is not especially because they want more money, but mainly because it costs shitloads to manufacture a devkit in the first place.

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Original post by Anonymous Poster
Superpig hit the nail on the head. With an outdated system like the PSP I could see how you could MAYBE create your game on an emulator, but with next-gen systems like the 360 and the PS3, there is no way to do it on your home pc with some emulator and expect it to perform well once dropped onto the actual system.

The reason that console developers charge lots of money for their devkits is not especially because they want more money, but mainly because it costs shitloads to manufacture a devkit in the first place.


A huge chunk of it (probably not all, but a part of it) is not so much the development costs (it's a glorified console for the most part) but the fact that they don't want the kits in the hands of just anyone.

It's like the MPAA, who charges something like $10k to nominate your movie for an Oscar. Yes, you have to pay to have your movie even considered.

This isn't to suck your money dry (though it does pay for the ceremony). It's there to keep Joe Nobody from making Serial Thrillaz on Acid III and submitting it, wasting the judges time.

Likewise, to a major publisher, the $10k cost of a devkit is pocket change. To a smaller developer, they usually only need a few devkits. Sony and M$ don't care about the homebrew hacker, they don't want Find the Cheese IV wasting their time.

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Nintendo has been hinting a lot about "small size developers" and "developers of any size" so I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo had a system like this. Again, thier idea is to reach everyone. Why not include hobby game developers in there?


EDIT: Fixed spelling

[Edited by - Mr_Fhqwhgads on April 22, 2006 11:13:43 AM]

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Original post by wilhil
the psp is making a loss per unit, (I think) it is the same with ALL consoles...

I don't think it's the case with Nintendo consoles. Big N has never lost money on a console, Virtual Boy aside. Even the Revolution is being designed and manufactured such that it is profitable at retail.

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alot of valid points here.

However i fully beleive that console developers can benefit from indie developers. There just isnt a stable model for it yet.

I remember the ps3 said it would have something like java on it.
I assume that it would be more secure than c++.
(Just a thought of the top of my head which i havent thought out fully)
Indie developers would be restricted to this vm. While professional studios could go more low level.

These kind of options havent been explored as far as i can see.

xhyldazhk: i have never seen the GP2X and i have never met anyone who has it. I would much rather develop for the ps3 as then my friends/family can casually play a game i may have made. Less chance of land a job knowing how to develope on the GP2X.

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