Bleem! is a name that Sony just wish would go away. The team behind the famous Playstation emulator have the unrestrained right to ship bleem! all over the world, thanks to the judicial system at work in the States. Enraged, Sony have since been beating down the door of court after court, attempting to gain some sort of preventative injunction against the American company responsible for the software, which they claim damages Playstation sales. I managed to conduct an interview with the guys behind bleem, shortly after their return home from E3 in Los Angeles, where they debuted their latest product, affectionately termed bleemcast!
Sony Court Case
From the guys' perspective, the court case has been an absolute nightmare. "The case is still very much alive." Apparently "[Sony] actually just filed a patent suit against us, the day after we launched bleem! for Dreamcast at E3. Hmmm. Coincidence?" I think not. The guys are still very adamant about their intentions with bleem! "bleem! isn't a replacement for the PlayStation. It's an accessory, or an enhancement that allows you to play hundreds of games on your PC." The argument from Sony's corner is presumably that by allowing people to play Playstation games on the PC using low-cost software, you negate the need for them to own an actual console! Why would anyone who owned a Playstation want to buy an emulator when they can use the real thing? "bleem! also enhances the resolution which makes many of the games more appealing visually." Hah, while that may sound like a 'feature', Sony would probably use it in their favour to back up the previous argument. "bleem! might even entice a hardcore PC gamer to purchase a PlayStation game that they otherwise would never have been able to play, or thought about buying - it has definitely happened." Now we get to the bare bones of the bleem! Case. They argue, and the courts seem to agree, that PC owners who would otherwise not buy Playstation software, are given a previously unthinkable option - to buy and use Playstation software on their PC, without the expense of a console. Is this a valid argument? I don't think anyone will ever know. The only way to find out would be to trade off the amount of Playstation-less bleem! owners against the amount of sales of Playstation games inspired by the software. I defy anyone to collect that data! The bottom line for bleem's creators is that "bleem! has probably helped open up the market for PlayStation games to reach people that otherwise would have never bought a PSX console, or any of the software. And Sony of course gets their cut for each game through licensing." Justification? Or a means to an end? Let the courts decide. Another string to Sony's fiddle was the argument that bleem! encourages software piracy. Again, inconclusive data saves bleem! from an air-tight m*****-f***** lawsuit, as they say. By supporting the use of copied CDs (or CDRs), bleem! allows software pirates to have a field day at the expense of Sony. To an extent, the guys seem to concur. "The truth is, the part of the code that checks to see if the game is an original or a copy is copyrighted by Sony. It would therefore be illegal for us to us the code to make bleem! not play copies." To that, Sony seems to have no answer. The piracy element is still very much a consideration, even though they have an excuse for everything. They are quick to explain that they "never advocate anyone copying games. It takes money from the pockets of the developers who work hard to create the games in the first place." Do they have a message for Sony at the end of this? "I'd say something, but I'd probably get sued ;-)"
Past, Present, Future
I've personally witnessed a lot of talk about a Playstation 2 version of the emulator. If the guys are planning one, they're not letting on. "Who's talking about a PlayStation 2 version? Not me." In fact, bleem! for Dreamcast seems to be their only concern right now. Are they planning on other conversions, perhaps to MacOS or Linux? "Not at this time." Some people see bleem! as treading thin ice wearing Doc Martens'. The guys are very restrained and unforthcoming about themselves, perhaps with this in mind. The question is who are they, and what inspired them to tread this thin line? They're quick to play it down; "We never saw it as treading a thin line." What inspired bleem? "We just wanted to make a product that let people play their PlayStation games, even after the PSX console died. This was also long before Sony announced backwards compatibility for the PSX2." What do the guys see on the horizon? "I see PSX games looking better on the Dreamcast than on the PS2 with all of its backward compatibility splendor. But that's just my opinion - see for yourself."
Bleem! is even available in the UK now (gasp!), so its span really is global. How is it selling? "Solid, we've sold more than 300,000 copies of the original bleem! program." Quite an achievement, considering the fact that many stores only sell it over the counter, and refuse to display it on their shelves. They must be getting tired of the bickering with Sony and the constant concern about the case by now. Would they do it all again, with the benefit of hindsight? "We are successful. You're damn right we'd do it again!" With all this programming and the legal hijinx though, do the guys ever have much time to relax, kick back and actually enjoy some Playstation R&R? Of course, however else would they maintain their Compatibility List! "We're playing hundreds of games. Gran Turismo 2 gets its shakes." I guess the only thing left to ask is why on earth they decided to called it 'bleem!'. "When we hit 500,000 units for bleem!, we'll let you know." Rats. Related Articles:- Special E3 Report: bleemcast? bleemed! An in-depth look at the emulator itself