Gamemakers not flattered by imitation
By DAVE GUSSOW and ROBB GUIDO
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 5, 1999
Tim Patterson gets paid to play games, so listen to his expert opinion: Sometimes, it's okay to cheat a little.
"A lot of games are very hard to play," said Patterson, product marketing manager for InterAct Accessories Inc., a subsidiary of Recoton Corp. of Lake Mary (www.recoton.com).
So Interact (iaweb.starix.net/interact/welcome.htm) makes GameShark, a $50 device for PlayStation and Nintendo 64 that lets players know where a game's secrets lie. It plugs into a game console and contains cheat codes that help players master hundreds of game titles.
Fudging during a game is one thing, but gamemakers are concerned about devices called emulators. The newest emulators allow Sony and N64 video games to be played on computers, which the companies fear will lead to games being copied and made available free.
Sony filed a lawsuit against the Connectix Virtual Game Station, which Sony claims violates its copyright and intellectual property rights. Sony lost a bid for a temporary restraining order, which allowed the shipment of the device.
Connectix's software has received mixed reviews, with reports that some PlayStation games, including Resident Evil and Wing Commander IV, won't work with its software. The software sets up the computer so games can be played on it, with the games run on the computer's CD-ROM drive.
Gamemakers downplay the idea of any "convergence" between video games and computers, saying the experience is different on each platform.
"For example, the PC and games that go with it are still played in the home office and generally by an older male," said Perrin Kaplan, director of corporate affairs for Nintendo of America. "The console, still hooked to the TV, is in the family room, where people can spread out with a bowl of popcorn and really get into it."
Kaplan sees another emerging threat to gamemakers, though.
"The Internet is a growing problem for us in the area of copyright infringement, counterfeit products, emulation and the like," Kaplan said. "We are paying a great deal of attention to stopping the growth (of these problems)."