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The Big If... - October 16,1998 by JoseQ
The question has been floating around since it firstwas mentioned around the Internet. What if Bleem indeedwas real? What if indeed, some days after October the 18th,we are all able to play perfect PSX emulation on our PCsat home? What if it wasn't a hoax as I myself thought before, and we all ended up with a real, fast, faithful,Playstation Emulator on the Internet. Free or not, it doesbring a lot of questions to the Emulation Community. Sadly,the possible consequences, doesn't look good. Here's areflection.
Assumming that Bleem was released for Free on the Internet. It is certain that Sony will instantaneously notice and jump on its back. It's goal? Some people thinkit will bury it, some others think it'll buy it and sell ititself. Others, think Sony can't do anything about it, andthat the emulator in itself, cannot be sued, or blamed forany possible consequences. Let's examine the alternatives.
Personally, I do not think Sony would bury a thing likethis if it could buy it. So let's assume it's not for sale.Sony could probably set up a lawsuit that would put on holddistribution and probably remain tangled in the law formonths without an end. Wether Sony wins or not, by then it willprobably either have developed it's own emulator and/or don't care about another one out there. I'm not too fondof the burying theory, since I believe Sony could make heapsof money if it bought it. Here's how.
As mentioned in the latest issue of Next-Generationmagazine, it has been common knowledge that the companieslike Nintendo, Sega and Sony, barely make money (if not loose money) by selling the hardware. The money is in thegames. Needless to say, by selling more hardware they sellmore games so the payback is there. Now what can Sony seein Bleem? The easiest answer to their every need. VirtualPSX consoles at the manufacturing cost of any piece ofsoftware. Development cost? Much less than paying a softwaredevelopment team for a year, since this is either paying an emulatorauthor for the rights, or getting a team to mimic detaileddesign specifications which they own. Should be no troublefor them since most emulation troubles come out of the lack of documentation. Sony would then open its PSX to a newvirgin market, of many Computer Gamers who do not own a PSXand would like to play some of the top hits. Download ROMs?Out of the question. They'd have to buy them or rent them.I for one would be that interested in a piece of softwarelike this. Plus the average computer gamer, still does notknow about Emulation at all. Its a hot product right fromthe start. It would cost virtually nothing to them, and thediscs sales (even old discs) would raise noticeably.
The latter opinion, is that Sony may not be able to doanything about it. Since distributing an emulator like thiswould probably spread through the world in one day, a lotof time before Sony could even notice. After distribution,there's nothing they can practically do. They may sue theauthor, but they would have not a big purpose since theirpossible gain had already been exploited. Still, reverseengineering is not illegal as long as no trade secrets wererevealed and exploited in which case, the people who didreveal those secrets would be liable for breach of contract,so there would be absolutely no fight for Sony in this.There are many many more questions that could pop out of anevent like this.
This could very well be the small blip that startsa huge chain reaction that could change the emulation worldas we know it. I for one am very centered in the balancebetween Bleem being real or fake. I will no longer call ita fake, or reality. We will have to wait andsee. But be prepared, that the day will come when companiesdecide to really stomp on emulation, and something big willhappen. Emulation has yet to star in a big court case, butit is up to us to stand behind it the whole way. We will nolonger be in a gray area, but either black or white. We canfight for the best, and hope for the rest.

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