I finally got an American Playstation 2. Last summer I bought a Japanese PS2 thinking that within a few months a real working chip would come out and I could then use it to play American games. That chip did come out a few months later and then Sony jumped all over it. It was several more months until I could find a place that sold the new chip and according to their site it does not work with my particular model 🙁 So, now that I have a job again I finally got an American PS2 which means I can play I.C.O., which by the way I bought last November, and I can play GTA3 and even my own game Jak & Daxter which I still have not played yet (my sister is sending me my copy).
But, I had an interesting thought. The #1 *valid* reason that people give for making chips for PS2 is that they allow one to play import games. Lots of games come out first in Japan and people don’t want to wait and lots of games come out only in Japan and people want to play them. Both PS2 and XBox (and PS1) all use semi sophisticated means for preventing users from playing games from other regions. To defeat this system generally require a special chip. The problem is, that same chip not only allows you to play games from other regions but it also allows you to play pirated copies. Note, some people will claim its use is to allow you to play backups so you can backup your games. While I’m sure a few people do that I don’t personally know of any.
Anyway, Nintendo on the other hand has always used a fairly simple method to protect their games. On the Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 as they both used cartridges the only difference between Japanese and American carts is there are little posts inside that cartridge slot that match holes in the cartridge. The position of those slots and holes is different on Japanese carts vs American carts. Remove those posts and you can put any cartridge in. On Gamecube a single switch (no chip) added to one connection inside the machine switches the machine from a Japanese to an English machine or visa versa.
I was thinking recently, I wonder if that prevents piracy on the Nintendo systems. The reason being there would be no legitimate reason to make a chip for one of those system. The only reason to make chips for those systems would be to pirate games.
There are some flaws in my logic. The first 2 Nintendo systems are cartridge based and its much harder to copy carts than CDs.(*) The Gamecube is DVD based but the DVDs are small. You can not currently buy Gamecube sized DVDs for making copies (although maybe you could use regular DVDs and just take the top off your Gamecube!?!)
Anyway, I’m curious if because of that, Microsoft’s and Sony’s systems which require a chip to break actually end up promoting piracy more than a simple system like Nintendo’s.
(*) Yes I know that Nintendo’s cartridge based systems now have emulators and people pirate the roms left and right. I feel that the emulators came out late enough in the life cycle of those systems that the associated piracy didn’t really effect sales AND, for the most part the experience of those games on the emulators is not as good as it is on the real system so mostly I think people collect the rom files for notalgia and/or just to be pack rats.
That also reminds me of the whole DVD region issue. DVD can be set to 6 different regions such that only DVD players from the same region can play DVDs marked for that region. I understand there are many reasons for this. One for example is that different companies distrubute and advertise a DVD in different countries. If Company A sells the new Star Wars DVD in America 5 months before Company B sells that DVD in England than if people in England could play DVDs from America they’d all just buy it from Company A and Company B would go out of business. Some will say, “then they should release it at the same time”. Well, if you thought about that a little you’d realize that different countries have different markets with different products. While Star Wars may be released everywhere, a Benny Hill DVD might not. The point is the Company B may already have a full schedule, they’ve only got so many people and so much time they can’t release every DVD as soon as it’s ready. They need to get their ad campain ready, they need to coordinate with magazines, TV, distrubutors etc etc etc. Also in the case of Japan they need to have both subtitles and new dialog in Japanese recorded. That takes time.
Another issue people bring up is the cost difference. For example a legit DVD in Taiwan might cost 1/2 the same DVD in America. Of course there are two ways to look at that. The Studio looks at that DVD as a $20 DVD but the cost of living in Taiwan (*example*) is lower so nobody can afford to pay $20 in Taiwan. So, in order to at least get some sales they do the Taiwanese a favor and lower the price to something they can afford. The problem is of course that some American sees that DVD being sold for $10 in Taiwan and thinks they are getting ripped of paying $20 in America when in reality the studios are doing something nice for Taiwan not evil to Americans.
Anyway, the problem is, at least in Los Angeles, the populations of non English speaking people are getting larger and larger. That means that at some point the DVD publishers will need to put out one DVD with all languages. At least for L.A. they would need Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Korean, Tagalog, Spanish, and possibly Russian and Turkish. That would seem to work against some of their regioning issues. I wonder if things would be better or worse for them with no region codes.