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Sony: Piracy Has Taken 'Big Chunk Of Game Sales' From PSP

Sony's Peter Dille talks candidly to Gamasutra about how a "sickening" level of piracy on the PSP has challenged its viability as a hardware platform and damaged its growth momentum.
18 months ago, third-party PSP developers were "just about ready to jump off the cliff and pull support for the platform," says Sony's Peter Dille. As part of an in-depth Gamasutra feature interview, Dille explained how the company's "evangelizing" since then to developers about going beyond the PlayStation 2 port to what kinds of games "make sense" on PSP has helped increase successful software on the platform. The first fruits of these efforts are just beginning to hit the market in 2009, including Dissidia Final Fantasy, Assassin's Creed and Rock Band on PSP, and there are more to come, says Dille. But as the PSP rebounds, piracy on the platform is still a major concern. "I'm convinced and we're convinced that piracy has taken out a big chunk of our software sales on PSP," Dille explains. "It's been a problem that the industry has to address together; it's one that I think the industry takes very seriously, but we need to do something to address this because it's criminal what's going on, quite frankly." "It's not good for us, but it's not good for the development community. We can look at data from BitTorrent sites from the day Resistance: Retribution goes on sale and see how many copies are being downloaded illegally, and it's frankly sickening. We are spending a lot of time talking about how we can deal with that problem." Hardware upgrades to the PSP have been speculated to be aimed in part at closing piracy 'loopholes,' although Sony has never disclosed the extent of the modifications. Even still, the fact that older versions of the hardware are fundamentally on the market complicates the situation -- even if there's a solution, there are 50 million potentially compromised units out there already. "Those numbers are correct," says Dille. "There's a lot of hardware out there; toothpaste is out of the tube. We're not going to get that hardware back into the toothpaste container." Dille says Sony's aiming for a "multi-pronged approach" factoring in both legal and education -- he believes that consumers could be convinced to pay for content "if they understood [that piracy] meant that a platform would go away." "I'm not naive, but I do think that most people are inherently honest," he says. "We learned a lot from the music business, and it became so easy and so common to download illegal music -- everyone was doing it. It's almost like people lost sight with the fact that, well, "If everyone's doing it, then it can't be that bad." "But, it actually is bad; it's bad for the platform. Again, I'm not saying that that's a magic wand; I think that we have to make sure from a technological perspective that it's not as easy as it is to do that." The full interview with Dille on the state of Sony in 2009 is now available at Gamasutra (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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