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Sony Hardware Hacking Portables (Games)

PSP Hacks and the Mainstream 251

pasm writes "The BBC is running article about how "DIY software and hardware experts have been quick to embrace Sony's PlayStation Portable console." Today I have witnessed some colleagues playing a wireless racing game with imported ones in the office. It seems that this will be the gadget of the year for both gamers and programmers with a neat idea and time on their hands."
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PSP Hacks and the Mainstream

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  • Trouble Brewing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:33PM (#12167018) Homepage Journal
    The developments are not sanctioned by Sony but the firm has not commented on the homebrew tools.


    So is this going to be another case where the developer of PSPIRC and other hackers have laid their hands on a PSP-DK (which will likely turn out completely unauthorized, etc.) and Sony will come down like a ton of bricks upon people? IIRC something like this has happened in the past. While I like the idea, you know Sony officially sanctions development for PS games, usually entering exclusive agreements, i.e. Sony provides DK, Developer agrees not to distribute DK, Developer creates game and turns over to Sony, Sony produces the carts and either sells them and splits the revenues or sells them back to the developer to do their own marketing (dunno if it works exactly like that anymore, but I know it was the business model.) So Sony holds ultimate control over what's released for their PS and PSP platforms.

    I expect a big shoe to drop. It wouldn't be a good idea to go blathering your name and accomplishments all over the place, particularly to reporters. I expect Sony will make their displeasure known in good time and in no uncertain terms. A shame, but this is part of their plan to protect their investment.

  • Re:yeah...real fun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by portwojc ( 201398 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:37PM (#12167053) Homepage
    True but it's not portable.
  • How can Sony lose? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mmell ( 832646 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:39PM (#12167075)
    First, permit the OpenSource-minded folks of the world to write applications for a closed platform. Don't discourage development; just guard existing copyrights assiduously.

    Second, when the demand is high enough, bring lawsuits to make the (previously) free applications the IP of Sony. Voila! Instant FREE R&D.

    Works for me!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:41PM (#12167094)
    I think the reason is that they don't make much money--if any--from the sales of hardware. It may even be a losing proposition. So for them to basically donate these machines to the marketplace and never have anyone spend another dime on Sony Software/Accessories/Other Profitable Items ain't the best business model.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:42PM (#12167109)
    They don't care about selling units, they care about selling games. There is no profit in selling the devices themself - the only reason they bother is they know they can make the money back on games sales. If they allowed 3rd party games they would lose their cash cow.
  • by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:46PM (#12167154)
    If you open memory sticks to random third parties, you've just nuked Sony's business plan of licensing developers and games. Why bother dealing with Sony when you don't have to? Just sell CDs with the games on them to consumers, and let them deal with getting them on memory sticks.

    The current high price of the MS Duo makes this less likely to be an actual business plan, but if it ever goes down (and if the PSP is a success, that will happen), it could be a serious problem for Sony.

    A _better_ plan would be Sony to freely distribute an SDK for making non-commercial products. You still get a third-party community, yet it can't be abused for circumventing Sony's licensing scheme.

  • by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:46PM (#12167158) Journal
    So is this going to be another case where the developer of PSPIRC and other hackers have laid their hands on a PSP-DK (which will likely turn out completely unauthorized, etc.) and Sony will come down like a ton of bricks upon people?

    If people know this, then why do they hack it? It is like having a law against speeding. I like to speed. I do it from time to time. But I HATE getting a ticket, having my insurace jump up, and being harrassed by the police. The only difference is Sony writes much bigger tickets and fines. I am assuming Sony can make a persons life a living hell if they wanted to.

  • by kerrle ( 810808 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:53PM (#12167239) Journal
    It's great any time a device pulls a following like this and shows some unintended utility, but the PSP is hardly alone.

    The DS also has a growing development community, and most likely, it'll be the more fruitful, at least in the short term. For one, we can already run our own code on the DS - and who knows when that'll be possible on the PSP?

    I hope cool things do turn up on the PSP, but if you're interested in DS hacking, check out these:

  • by CDarklock ( 869868 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:54PM (#12167246) Homepage Journal
    Sony's real concern is double-sided.

    First, the reputation of a console can be seriously tarnished if it has a market glut of crappy games. They're worried that eight million bad developers will release eight million pieces of garbage, and people will be unable to find the good games without having to struggle through several bad ones.

    Second... and probably more importantly... Sony makes a boatload of money off their developers right now, and if they open up development some of those developers will jump ship and go it alone. The little guys who have no infrastructure of their own will stay on, but the big boys will undoubtedly try to cut Sony out of the picture. That threatens to leave Sony with all their high-maintenance problem children, while the cash cows move on to greener pastures.

    Publicly, Sony is more likely to concentrate on describing the first reason than the second.
  • This is just hype. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnuadam ( 612852 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:55PM (#12167260) Journal

    All the "hacks" released to date ( that I'm aware of ... please please tell me if there are others ) depend on the presence of the webbrowser in wipeout pure. Once you hijack the dns, it's yours. Everything else has depended on this. The browser, the IRC, etc. There is no 3rd party dev kit; no one has run a homebrew executable on the psp that I'm aware of.

    Even stuff the stuff to sync the iApps to the psp have just made images to be viewed in the builtin picture viewer.

    I *wish* very strongly to write for the platform that way you would a pda. It screams for it. Alas, not possible now.

    One final thought ... the "hacked" web browser can do javascript, according to the rumors. Maybe something there?

  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Thursday April 07, 2005 @01:58PM (#12167288) Homepage Journal

    When it came down to the choice between getting a DS or a PSP now, the choice became the PSP. Granted, I'll get a DS later for other games that I'm interested in and the rumored Palm Pilot module - but it was the usefulness of the PSP *now* that interested me.

    A lot of people underestimate the usefulness of the GBA and Nintendo DS now. Like the PSP, the GBA or Nintendo DS supports its own proprietary memory card format. A GBA memory card such as the Flash2Advance or the EFA-Linker greatly expands the capabilities of a GBA or Nintendo DS system:

    • Like the PSP, the GBA can play music, through the GBA GSM Player [].
    • Unlike the PSP, which can't run games for any previous Sony platform, the GBA can run most NES games, many Game Boy monochrome games, and even some PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) games, in emulation [].
    • Unlike the PSP, the GBA does not use digital signatures for programs stored on memory cards. Developers have created several homebrew games and made available to the public. I am one of those developers [].

    The only thing you're lacking is video, but there's another peripheral for that [].

  • by gasp ( 128583 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:04PM (#12167345)
    Sheesh. This article is so light on details, and most of it's implications are just dead wrong. The only truthful part I read was where it admits near the end of the article that most of these "hacks" rely on the web browser in the game Wipeout Pure.

    Don't get excited, folks, these "homebrew tools" are NOT code running on the PSP. This isn't a case of somebody stealing Sony SDK tools and writing new software for the PSP or even hacking existing software. This is simply a matter of changing DNS so that you san spoof the domain and direct an EXISTING browser to a different site and putting server-side tools for the PSP to access. There's nothing particularly amazing about using a web IRC client and portals and the like.

    The article makes it sound like they have an IRC client running on the PSP, and an ebook reader. Nope. It's just the existing web browser and photo viewer, no coding changes on the PSP required. Really, there's no news here.
  • by Zigg ( 64962 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:06PM (#12167363)

    Opening the PSP too much could shoot Sony in the foot.

    It's well-accepted that at the price they're selling the PSP at, Sony's losing on every unit. Games and UMD movies are the route to profitability.

    Now I'm not denying the attractive power of the extra features, provided they don't comprise an overpowering value proposition. Viewing media on a Memory Stick isn't worth $250 to anyone with half a brain, so Sony's pretty safe in assuming that a raft of people aren't going to bleeding them to death buying PSPs and never buying a game or a UMD movie.

    Now, throw in open dev kits. Suddenly, the included 32MB stick can hold a web browser as well as games and software obtained freely off the Internet (or cheaply) that Sony doesn't see a dime off from. In fact, it may even serve to draw attention away from the games Sony does make money on in those people who would have bought them otherwise.

    So. Explain to me how this idea is a good thing for Sony?

  • by Upaut ( 670171 ) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:12PM (#12167429) Homepage Journal
    ...if the PSP was even more open. They could open up development, allowing downloads to memory stick permitting 3rd party games to be developed (think Palm) . I think this constant tendency of Sony shoving down our throats things like Memory Stick and ATRAC have really hurt them, instead of enhancing their bottom line like they think it would.

    Do you remember that the Dreamcast (Finest gaming platform next to xbox)? It was a most excellent system. It had great games. It spurred originality. Unfortunatly, one could run any pireted game they wanted, without even needing to open up the system. Sales on games plummeted. The system was killed, despite heavy sales of the consol in Europe, Japan, and the USA. Games are what make or break a system. If people can easily make functional ROMZ, then the system will die.
  • by buccaneer9 ( 848820 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:22PM (#12167610)
    Three or four years ago, Bleem! developed an emulator which allowed PlayStation games to be played on PC's. The founders of Bleem! figured this was going to be a win-win for Sony - they don't have to sell their hardware at a loss, but receive licensing revenue from the game. Sony did not see it that way, and sued Bleem! out of existence.

    Further, note that Bleem! actually won all of the court cases I am aware of. However, the cost of defending themselves in court put them out of business.
  • by bfields ( 66644 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:26PM (#12167690) Homepage
    If people know this, then why do they hack it? It is like having a law against speeding. I like to speed. I do it from time to time. But I HATE getting a ticket, having my insurace jump up, and being harrassed by the police.

    The difference is that hacking the (PSP|XBox|whatever) is cooler than speeding. People probably disagree about the numbers, but most would agree that going too fast for conditions *should* be illegal. Whereas the opposite is probably true for hardware hacking. So if you get in trouble for hardware hacking, maybe you become a folk hero and help change some policy. If you get caught for speeding you probably just feel embarassed.

    --Bruce Fields

  • by cualexander ( 576700 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:29PM (#12167743)
    My ipaq has bluetooth, wireless, an SD card slot which I can buy new memory for $70/Gig, I can encode movies in wmv and fit several hours of very good quality(360kbps) video. I can do thousands of more things than the PSP and it costs me $320. Sure the PSP has a bigger, better screen, but my ipaq rx3115 fits perfectly in my pocket and I can use it in public without causing a lot of attention. The only other thing the PSP has is better games, but the pocketpc selection suits my tastes. I just don't get where the PSP is so "revolutionary". I can do everything and so much more on my pda. In order to get the same functionality in the PSP I would have to spend several times more than my PDA costs just to buy memory sticks and deal with sony proprietary crap. It just doesn't seem worth it to me. I'm not trolling I swear. Someone just explain this phenomenon to me and how it rivals pdas or tablet pcs because I just don't see it personally.
  • by CDarklock ( 869868 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @02:35PM (#12167831) Homepage Journal
    > Has the glut of Win32 compatible
    > games tarnished the reputation of
    > the console called "PC running
    > Windows XP"?

    Yes. There are a lot of people saying the PC is "dead" as a gaming platform because individual PC differences cause unpredictable errors and give certain people unfair advantages, when the *real* culprit is bad programming. (Or bad design. It's hard to get a good gamepad for a PC, I've found.)

    > In general, console makers don't
    > even want to talk to startups.

    In general, startups are composed of people who honestly don't know what the hell they're doing. Demonstrate otherwise, and console manufacturers get very interested in talking things over with you.

    It's all politics. If you can't play the political game, you need someone in your startup who knows what he's about -- i.e. he's in the credits of a game worth playing. Or, on the other hand, just go XBox instead... Microsoft will happily jump into bed with more or less anyone that doesn't seem TOO profoundly retarded.
  • by Daagar ( 764445 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @03:06PM (#12168280)
    The difference, of course, is that the PSP is first and foremost a gaming console that also happens to have lots of nifty PDA-like features. Your gadget is first and foremost a PDA that also happens to play some basic games. Different target audiences.
  • by TechniMyoko ( 670009 ) on Thursday April 07, 2005 @03:46PM (#12168822) Homepage
    $40 for a wifi detector is too much $250 for a portable video, audio, jpeg, game player and wifi detector, is different
  • by dougnaka ( 631080 ) * on Thursday April 07, 2005 @04:10PM (#12169102) Homepage Journal
    maybe familiar to the people who have another playstation...

    How many people is that? I'd wager 90% of their target audience.. how many playstation 1's and 2's has Sony sold???

If it's not in the computer, it doesn't exist.