Software developer Connectix and electronics giant Sony
announced yesterday a “joint technology agreement.” Part of the agreement puts the future of Connectix’s PlayStation game console emulator, Virtual Game Station, in the hands of Sony. That’s only one piece of a much broader strategy, Connectix president Roy McDonald told MacCentral.
“In forming this agreement, the two companies have established a great working relationship,” said McDonald. “Sony is an enormous company with a large range of technical interests.”
McDonald explained that the initiative announced yesterday is a broad technology agreement with implications far beyond just emulation of the PlayStation. “[The agreement] extends to a wide range of computing platforms,” said McDonald.
McDonald said that
Connectix and Sony share some common philosophies that should make their work very complementary moving forward. “At their core, both Connectix and Sony are engineering companies — companies dedicated to making great products,” said McDonald.
Sony’s court disputes with Connectix about the legal validity of Virtual Game Station may have contributed to the new agreement. “In the discovery process, Sony learned more about the way that our emulation technology works than they would have been able to otherwise,” mused McDonald.
Sony and Connectix were at odds from the start — Virtual Game Station’s initial release in 1999 at Macworld Expo in San Francisco was soon followed by Sony’s lawsuit. Sony successfully requested a preliminary injunction to prevent Connectix from distributing the software for close to a year. Connectix ultimately thwarted Sony’s attempts to stifle Virtual Game Station, though — the injunction was overturned on appeal, and the software later went into distribution again, with a PC version also available. McDonald is very proud of the legal work Connectix did — he said that the company established precedents in fair use law that he expects will be cited in future cases for decades to come.
Until this new relationship was established, Sony and Connectix were going to see each other in court again. The two companies were scheduled to square off before a jury this past Monday, to find an outcome for Sony’s original copyright suit against Connectix. However, the joint technology agreement settles all the outstanding legal issues related to Virtual Game Station.
Connectix will continue to make Virtual Game Station through the end of June, but beyond that, the future of the PlayStation emulator is hazy. Connectix and Sony will decide together what the future will hold, and Connectix will continue to provide support for Virtual Game Station, so users need not feel abandoned.
McDonald recognizes that some users are disappointed to hear the news, but he encourages Virtual Game Station users to adopt a pragmatic view. “People have to be realistic about the market for PlayStation games in a PlayStation 2 world,” said McDonald.
With Sony’s new game console picking up steam, there are fewer and fewer games being developed for the PlayStation, despite having an enormously successful run for the past several years. McDonald suggested that even if Sony hadn’t bought the core Virtual Game Station assets, it’s likely that the emulator’s time would have been up soon, anyway.
The silver lining here, said McDonald, is that his company has access to new resources that he hopes will result in new Connectix products in the months and years to come.
“As part of this joint technology agreement, we gain access to technical resources at Sony that we’ve never had before,” said McDonald. “And we’ve also gained new cash resources that will enable us to fund new projects.”
Only time will tell what those new projects will be, but for now, Connectix’s feet are still firmly planted in the Macintosh world, and will remain there. Earlier this year the company released DoubleTalk, which enables Macs to communicate and share files with PC network servers and printers. McDonald says that DoubleTalk has been selling briskly since its release in January. The company is also continuing to engineer Virtual PC 4, the latest version of its PC emulation software for the Mac.