Dementium developer voices concerns about 3DS piracy, future of studio's games on the platform

If the Nintendo 3DS falls victim to piracy like the DS did, Dementium and Mutant Mudds developer Renegade Kid won't be able to continue supporting the platform, said studio head Jools Watsham in a recent post on his personal blog.

Watsham was responding to a report from Tiny Cartridge saying a hacker had made progress on opening up the 3DS hardware, gaining "full control" of an unmodified unit in kernel mode. The hacker, who goes by "Neimod," said he does not want to use the workaround to enable piracy, but instead is interested in doing things like disabling the 3DS's region lock.

"Piracy on the Nintendo DS crippled the DS retail market, especially in Europe," said Watsham. He cited sales numbers for Renegade Kid's 2007 title Dementium: The Ward and its 2010 sequel, Dementium 2. According to Watsham, the studio sold more than 100,000 copies of The Ward worldwide, which he characterized as "a great success for an original mature-rated title on the DS." However, sales of Dementium 2, which received better reviews than its predecessor, were less than half that of the first game.

"We'll never truly know why that was so, but many seem to believe that piracy had a lot to do with it," said Watsham.

He added, "If piracy gets bad on the 3DS, we will have no choice but to stop supporting the platform with new games." Renegade Kid launched three games on 3DS last year — the eShop titles Mutant Mudds, Planet Crashers and Bomb Monkey — and is developing ATV Wild Ride 3D and Mutant Mudds 2 on the platform for release in 2013.

Watsham exhorted 3DS hackers to "become legit developers" instead, and expressed hope that Nintendo will continue to combat piracy with firmware updates and legal measures. A 3DS software update released by Nintendo in September blocked 95 percent of the world's flash carts — devices that connect to handhelds and often enable homebrew applications — from working with the 3DS, according to a flash cart manufacturer. And in November, Japan banned the importation of R4 cartridges, flash carts that work with the DS and 3DS.

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