Sales of DS titles are suffering due to the rise in popularity and availability of R4 ‘piracy' Cards, MCV can reveal.
The R4, along with similar devices such as the M3, N5 and TT, allow users to download games illegally and play them on a DS. And the cards can be bought from a host of retailers, including the likes of Amazon, eBay traders and independent retailers.
But ELSPA's IP Crime Unit manager John Hillier has warned the trade that unless the sale of these items halts, the trade body will be forced to act.
There are various SD cards for the DS that illegally circumvent the copyright protection in place and allows copied games to be played,” he explained to MCV.
The supply of these items is an infringement and an offence under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Trade Marks Act 1994. ELSPA's IP Crime Unit works closely with the enforcement agencies to stop this supply and prevent instances of intellectual property theft.”
A spokesperson for Nintendo added: We are monitoring the situation with R4 cards and working closely with our legal teams to identify any infringements on our IP and will take action where and when appropriate.”
According to MCV sources, casual games remain largely unaffected by these cards; it is titles that appeal to traditional, hardcore gamers – those consumers who are also more tech-savvy – that are suffering a decline in sales. Doug Bone, UK sales director at Square-Enix, whose Final Fantasy titles are said to be amongst those affected,
The growing availability of these R4 products is certainly alarming. The undeniable fact is that they are predominantly bought for software piracy and steps should be taken to restrict the distribution channels available.
In the short-term it is the responsibility of the trade to ensure these products don't hit the shelves. For every game pirated and so not bought, we suffer as an industry.”
Online retailer Simply Games stocks the R4 card, with MD Neil Muspratt explaining:
Simply Games has only recently started selling them and it was as a direct result of larger retailers getting involved, mainly Amazon,” he explained. They have been reasonably popular but we're considering removing them in the near future.”