Um, I think Cody was being sarcastic. We could just as easily extend his metaphor to hardware - why should hardware DVD player manufacturers charge for their equipment, when they don't produce the DVDs themselves? Why should TV manufacturers charge for TV sets when they don't make the programmes? Why should actors be paid when they didn't write the scripts? Why should scriptwriters be paid when they didn't invent the language?
The answer is simple: People don't often give up time and hard work for nothing. If you spent all of your spare time for a couple of years doing nothing but developing an emulator, it might be nice to get something in return.
Zakfab is right that people will go for the free alternative if there is one, but that isn't always an option. How about BleemCast? The only free alternative is the DC port of PCSX, which runs between 2-10 fps. Amiga Forever? It's based on WinUAE, which is free, but people still buy the commercial version.
Also, if the emulator is good enough, people will pay regardless of the free options. The Amiga had two excellent GB emulators, for example: AmiGB and Wzonka-Lad. The former was free; the latter was shareware (sound disabled until you registered). People registered Wzonka-Lad for years despite the free alternative, mainly because Wzonka was so much more advanced than the competition.
Plus, there are reasons why people would want to buy an emulator other than to play illegal ROMs. Palm have written a PalmOS emulator for Windows, which they sell as part of the development kit. No$GBA is a shareware GBA emulator with a purportedly excellent debugger - they charge a fortune for the full version, and it is aimed squarely at commercial GBA developers. You could use something like VisualBoy instead, but you miss out on the debugger.
You can't equate charging for an emulator (your own hard work) with charging for a bunch of ROMs (somebody else's hard work). The two activities are very different.
Companies even endorse emulation these days, at least when it works in their favour. Nintendo have released an NES emulator for the GBA - it's currently available in Japan, and on its way to the US. They're charging about £10 per cartridge, and each cartridge contains one NES game and the emulator. They've also released an Atari VCS emulator, containing all of Activisiion's decent VCS games on one cart. Sega released Genesis emulators (based on KGen by Steve Snake) for the PC, Saturn and DreamCast (the two Sega Smash Packs and Sonic Jam). Amstrad included a Spectrum emulator in their eMailer+ hardware.
Should these companies have released their emulators for free so you can zip around w4r3z sites downloading Genesis games? Would that benefit them?
Last edited by ant512; 03 April 2004 at 16:46.