Monday, August 30, 2004

Why I'm a big fan of emulators

The other weekend I decided to blow off some steam with an hour of Crazy Taxi on my Sega Dreamcast. Now, as many of you are well aware, the Dreamcast is an outdated console that never really took off. Still, there are some incredibly cool games on it that I enjoy immensely (Powerstone 1/2, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, Crazy Taxi 1/2, Ikaruga and the fantastic Jet Grind Radio). Needless to say, back in the day I spent several hundred bucks on the console and games and was very happy with it. I'm not a game "junkie" but I do like to blow off steam every once in awhile with them.

So I was understandably pissed last week when I discovered that my Dreamcast had stopped working. It just won't read the game CDs anymore. Now the games are all fine, I just have no means to play them. And Sega, in their infinite wisdom decided to make the game discs a proprietary format (GD-ROM) that can't be read by non-Dreamcast drives. I could go out and buy another Dreamcast off of ebay or at Gamespot, but the hardware is four years old and I would be back at square one within about 6 months. So here I sit with ISOs of the games that I own that I downloaded off of the Internet (through an "illegal" P2P network) trying to get them to work with Chankast.

The same thing happened to me with my NES, and SNES systems as well. I can understand the companies not wanting to forgo revenue on intellectual property, but I'm of the opinion that they should give me an option to play these games for life. Especially, when that option is a very feasible reality. If Sega released an emulator for the PC I would buy it in a heartbeat. The only game company that has come even remotely close to doing this is Nintendo, which released a lot of their classic NES games for the Game Boy Advance, but I balk a little at paying full price again for a game that I already own on top of having to upgrade to a new system where the same thing will happen in a few years. I think we've established that the PC is a viable emulation platform, why fight it?

If these companies would work with their customers I'm sure a feasible solution could be achieved. But they seem to refuse to realize that some of the best games have already been developed and have a loyal following that they could capitalize on. Until they do I'll put my support behind ZSNES and Chankast.

Update: I've been doing more thinking on this and I think that part of the reason that I'm so ticked off by the gaming industry is because the hardest part of launching any new business venture is determining what the need is. Where is the value for the customer? In this case the value is handed to them on a silver platter and they still can't pony up. Amazing.


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