The question has been floating around since it first was mentioned around the Internet. What if Bleem indeed was real? What if indeed, some days after October the 18th, we are all able to play perfect PSX emulation on our PCs at home? What if it wasn't a hoax as I myself thought before, and we all ended up with a real, fast, faithful, Playstation Emulator on the Internet. Free or not, it does bring a lot of questions to the Emulation Community. Sadly, the possible consequences, doesn't look good. Here's a reflection.
Assuming that Bleem was released for Free on the Internet. It is certain that Sony will instantaneously notice and jump on its back. It's goal? Some people think it will bury it, some others think it'll buy it and sell it itself. Others, think Sony can't do anything about it, and that the emulator in itself, cannot be sued, or blamed for any possible consequences. Let's examine the alternatives.
Personally, I do not think Sony would bury a thing like this if it could buy it. So let's assume it's not for sale. Sony could probably set up a lawsuit that would put on hold distribution and probably remain tangled in the law for months without an end. Whether Sony wins or not, by then it will probably either have developed it's own emulator and/or don't care about another one out there. I'm not too fond of the burying theory, since I believe Sony could make heaps of money if it bought it. Here's how.
As mentioned in the latest issue of Next-Generation magazine, it has been common knowledge that the companies like Nintendo, Sega and Sony, barely make money (if not loose money) by selling the hardware. The money is in the games. Needless to say, by selling more hardware they sell more games so the payback is there. Now what can Sony see in Bleem? The easiest answer to their every need. Virtual PSX consoles at the manufacturing cost of any piece of software. Development cost? Much less than paying a software development team for a year, since this is either paying an emulator author for the rights, or getting a team to mimic detailed design specifications which they own. Should be no trouble for them since most emulation troubles come out of the lack of documentation. Sony would then open its PSX to a new virgin market, of many Computer Gamers who do not own a PSX and would like to play some of the top hits. Download ROMs? Out of the question. They'd have to buy them or rent them. I for one would be that interested in a piece of software like this. Plus the average computer gamer, still does not know about Emulation at all. Its a hot product right from the start. It would cost virtually nothing to them, and the discs sales (even old discs) would raise noticeably.
The latter opinion, is that Sony may not be able to do anything about it. Since distributing an emulator like this would probably spread through the world in one day, a lot of time before Sony could even notice. After distribution, there's nothing they can practically do. They may sue the author, but they would have not a big purpose since their possible gain had already been exploited. Still, reverse engineering is not illegal as long as no trade secrets were revealed and exploited in which case, the people who did reveal those secrets would be liable for breach of contract, so there would be absolutely no fight for Sony in this. There are many many more questions that could pop out of an event like this.
This could very well be the small blip that starts a huge chain reaction that could change the emulation world as we know it. I for one am very centered in the balance between Bleem being real or fake. I will no longer call it a fake, or reality. We will have to wait and see. But be prepared, that the day will come when companies decide to really stomp on emulation, and something big will happen. Emulation has yet to star in a big court case, but it is up to us to stand behind it the whole way. We will no longer be in a gray area, but either black or white. We can fight for the best, and hope for the rest.