When Renegade Kid's Jools Watsham stated that his company would be forced to pull support for the 3DS if piracy became a big enough problem, it triggered quite a debate. Watsham was branded as "anti-Nintendo" by some quarters, and Goodbye Galaxy Games founder Hugo Smits entered the argument with his own counterpoint. Watsham has since clarified his position, but the saga has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many loyal 3DS fans.
However, Watsham's stance has been given additional support by Peter Ong, co-founder of Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Illusion studio DreamRift. Ong offered up his own experience of how piracy can stymie the ambitions of a developer:
We definitely found that piracy was a significant factor in our Nintendo DS development efforts. When we approached publishers to propose potential game projects with them, most of them brought up their concerns about piracy at some point.
Many publishers even cited the issue of piracy as a specific reason why they decided to back away from our game project, especially with it being an original intellectual property concept.
The publishers' fear was that, in a climate where piracy is commonplace, original games and new mechanics are far less likely to be successful than games based on previously successful mechanics, established licenses, sequels, and sports.
The message is clear - even if piracy isn't as big a problem as they think, publishers will use it as a reason to not support unique and innovative projects - and that's a real headache for developers who want to create original experiences for us to enjoy.
We can only hope that piracy on the 3DS never reaches the levels it did on the DS.