Sony has certainly been in the news a lot lately and it seems that hardly a week goes by without one of their subsidiaries getting hacked in some form. It is for this reason it may come as a surprise to many that Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, claims they actually support "hacking".
In a recent interview with the New York Times, the topic of hacking quickly came up and this is what Jack had to say -
"...we embrace independent game development; if you call that hacking, then we embrace that. We give people tools that let them create new experiences. What I don’t think we are in support of is someone trying to hack our device to pirate software and possibly collapse the platform."
Of course, Jack's definition of "hacking" more than likely differs from your own and it's true that independent game development can be seen as a form of hacking, it all just depends on your perspective. However, some PS3 hackers and homebrew developers seem to disagree with this statement in its entirely, particularly the part about giving independent developers the tools they need.
KaKaRoTo, who we recently interviewed and who has been petitioning Sony to legitimise homebrew, immediately fired off a response to the NY Times author. In his response, KaKaRoTo doesn't mince his words and outright accuses Jack Tretton of lying -
"This is a complete lie, and Mr. Tretton is being dishonest with you and with your readers. The world needs to know the truth: Sony has been hard at work to prevent customers from modifying their rightfully owned Playstation 3 system and this has absolutely nothing to do with piracy."
What this really boils down to is the distinction between an independent developer and a homebrew developer. At one point in time, they may have been one in the same, particularly when you go back to the days of the first home games consoles. Many games would be programmed and created by just one or two people, which coined the term "bedroom programming". However, these days many people attribute homebrew with hacking, rather than amateur hobbyists doing something for enjoyment.
The problem many independent developers face is the cost of entry to a platform. Both Microsoft and Sony charge at least a 4-figure sum for their development tools, with many believing the figure can exceed $10,000. This certainly puts the cost above what most hobbyists could afford, however Microsoft does offer a much cheaper, albeit cut-down development solution. Sony does not and this is why many feel that Sony does not truly support independent developers. An independent developer, by definition, is a developer that does not have a publisher. If a developer does not have a publisher, it can be difficult to raise the capital needed to pay this entry fee, assuming Sony is even willing to allow the developer onto their platform.
Whether you believe that independent developers and homebrew developers should be treated the same or not, Jack Tretton's comments are sure to rile a few feathers here and there. Whether Sony will suffer yet more retaliations for this remains to be seen.