Peter Ong, one of the founders of DreamRift, took to the Internet this week to talk about piracy and its relationship to developer ambition. Ong, whose company developed Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, is understandably nervous about recent advances in piracy for Nintendo's 3DS.
Apparently hackers have made a handful of breakthroughs in their attempt to crack the system's security. One hacker in particular is claiming that he has uncovered an exploit that would give pirates full control the system's mechanics. If true, this would be a huge step toward an Internet full of pirated 3DS titles.
However, the most interesting part of Ong's interview, for my money, was his statement about developer attitudes toward innovation in the face of piracy:
"When we approached publishers to propose potential game projects with them, most of them brought up their concerns about piracy at some point," he told Gamasutra. "Many publishers even cited the issue of piracy as a specific reason why they decided to back away from our game project, especially with it being an original intellectual property concept."
He continued, "This means that not only are gamers presented with more and more sports/licensed/sequel games in favor of original IP games, but also that even within non-original IP games, the type of design and gameplay will tend toward less innovative/risky mechanics."
If developers truly do think this way, Nintendo has the most to lose. They've built their empire on quirky control schemes and innovative gameplay. So if hackers manage to crack the Wii U's security, which is probably inevitable, Nintendo could lose much of the third-party support that they're hoping for.
It may seem fairly shortsighted on a developer's part to avoid innovation, but considering that nearly thirty dev studios closed their doors or filed for bankruptcy in 2012, I can't really blame them. But if devs are going to become gun-shy, it doesn't paint a pretty picture for the future of the gaming industry.
Date: January 14, 2013