Monday, December 03, 2007

R4DS and homebrew

Recently I’ve got my hands on a cool little add-on for Nintendo DS. It is called R4DS (Revolution for DS), and, basically, is a device which allows you to run DS homebrew applications from a standard MicroSD card. The device has a form factor of a standard DS game card, and acts as an adapter for MicroSD card. It has some sort of a shell software onboard, which allows you to easily access data on the flash card, to start programs etc. It is really an extremely cool gadget.

Well, it seems that Nintendo is not happy about the device at all. Nintendo spokesman is being quoted to say “We are keeping a close eye on the products and studying them. But we cannot smash all of them”. This, I think, in general summarizes the feelings of all closed-platform device producers towards homebrew.

On one hand, I can understand the reasons behind their position. R4DS and similar devices are being considered to be used mostly for game pirating – and, I have to admit, running “backup ROMs” is extremely easy with R4DS. So, the device seems to pose a threat to Nintendo and to all companies who officially develop games for DS.

But let’s look at this issue from a little bit different angle. DS is an amazing device, which is capable of many things (it has touchscreen, stereo sound, built-in WiFi), but currently locked almost exclusively to games. If you look at a homebrew directory, you will see a multitude of useful applications there – IM messengers, mediaplayers, email readers, communication tools - all written by enthusiasts. Just think – how all these applications would increase the appeal of DS to the customers, would they be officially accepted by Nintendo! Instead of alienating the enthusiast programmers crowd, Nintendo could help them, and, by doing this, simultaneously improve its public image and significantly increase their customer base. They could manufacture and sell devices like R4DS by themselves - another stream of revenue for them! Yes, the number of pirated game users will, probably, go up. But I strongly doubt that the change would be a significant one. After all, as all experience shows us, people who would run pirated games will do it this way or that, regardless of the existence of the official tools.

Situation with Nintendo is not unique. Generally speaking, homebrew scene for all platforms is always being frowned upon by the official platform producer. But I think that it’s time to change this attitude. Instead of fighting the enthusiasts, the manufacturers should join forces with them. This will lead to more and better software on better devices, which, in the end, is beneficial for all.

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3 comments:

richardneish said...

I was very interested in getting a Nintendo DS until I realized that Nintendo didn't officially support homebrew development, so they lost at least one potential customer because of this attitude. However, I don't think I am really their target market. I'm not a gamer, and wanted the DS almost completely for homebrew (and maybe some MarioKart or Nintendogs...)

Having said that, I don't think I agree with your statement that supporting homebrew will allow Nintendo to significantly increase their customer base. The number of tinkerers they might add, and the increased revenue from hardware sales, is probably far less that the loss of revenue from pirated games. The whole point of the console market is that these are not general purpose computers and so they are tailored to meet the game developer's needs, including making piracy as hard as possible. The side effect, that makes homebrew tinkering impossible or difficult is more or less irrelevant to the game developers.

nintendo r4 said...

Hi,
I am fond of technology this type of technology was really great i like it most.
And this will helpful me so i will definitely use it.

hard drives said...

I would say the R4DS would do just fine. I'm only using R4DS at the moment. And no others. And my general conclusion is...I really like using the R4DS