Mutant Mudds and Dementium developer Jools Watsham has expressed his concern over potential Nintendo 3DS piracy after a hacker claimed full control over the system.
A hacker called Neimod (via TinyCartridge) appears to have assumed full control over an unmodified 3DS, although he said it could be patched easily and insisted he had no interest in allowing others to use the hack to load pirated software.
Following the news, Watsham, who runs indie developer Renegade Kid, published a blog post in which he said rampant piracy could seriously affect developer support for the 3DS. He used a comparison of his DS games Dementium and Dementium 2 as evidence of the effect piracy can have on sales.
“Piracy on the Nintendo DS crippled the DS retail market, especially in Europe,” he said. “We'll never know how/if Dementium II landed in as many hands as the first game, Dementium: The Ward, due to the rampant piracy at the time. Dementium: The Ward sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide, which is a great success for an original mature-rated title on the DS. Recorded sales of Dementium II are less than half that. We'll never truly know why that was so, but many seem to believe that piracy had a lot to do with it.
“If piracy gets bad on the 3DS, we will have no choice but to stop supporting the platform with new games. Some say that piracy leads to more game sales, claiming that it enables players to try before they buy. Bullshit.
“The percentage of people who will spend money on a game that they already got for free is surely very small - especially with so many 'free' games already in the market. The line between what should/should not be free is getting very blurry.
“If these hackers really want to mess with the guts of a 3DS, why not become legit developers for it and let the world enjoy their talents? Many of today's great programmers used to be hackers back in the day. It is a great way to learn the craft. Putting ones efforts towards the creation of legit games instead of potentially crippling the market seems like a much more fulfilling path.”
Despite this, Watsham remains hopeful that Nintendo will do its utmost to stop piracy on 3DS. “The good news is that Nintendo has the ability to put up a good fight against pirates due to 3DS system updates and such,” he said. “Let's hope this is enough to stop piracy. Time will tell.”
Ahead of the console's March 2011 release Nintendo said the 3DS would resist piracy better than any other console the Japanese company had created.
Nintendo UK's product manager James Honeywell said the R4 cart problem that dogged the DS was well and truly behind it as anti-piracy measures took hold.
In July 2010 the High Court banned the sale of R4 cartridges in the UK. The case concerned the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1998, and Nintendo's claim that games were copied into the random access memory of the DS in the course of using the devices.