Sony's attempts to unseat bleem! were not limited to the courts, though. At a software expo that May, Sony and bleem! staffers got into a shouting match because bleem! was using footage from Gran Turismo to demonstrate its performance as an emulator. Sony ended up prevailing and bleem! removed the monitors to avoid being ousted from the event.
bleem! marched on unabated and finally won in court; the court ruled the company wasn't violating Sony's rights or unfairly competing with them. One court even went to far as to issue a protective order to "protect David from Goliath."
Sony's legal death rattle was the last item to be decided: screenshots. Sony claimed bleem!'s use of screenshots of PlayStation games on its packaging were copyright infringement. bleem! cried fair use, which was denied on the initial motion. In an appeal, the court noted that bleem!'s use of copyrighted screenshots was considered fair use and should be allowed to continue, a precedent-setting decision.
After a year of legal battles, threats and intimidation, David had prevailed over Goliath. Unfortunately, this was not without a price. Defending itself against Sony had engulfed the partnership, and it found itself unable to continue doing business after all the legal fees it had spent. In November 2001, bleem! shut its doors for good, auctioning off its property on eBay, which included a vast library of games it used to engineer into the software.
Was this Pyrrhic victory worth it? Perhaps that's a matter of perspective. Prior to bleem!, the world of emulation was regarded as the seedy underbelly of the videogame industry, laden with imagery of pimply-faced hackers toiling in a dark basement. bleem! brought sunshine to that process, and did it better than any other emulator. Not only that, but it made improvements wherever it could to the gaming experience (double the resolution, support for newer 3-D cards, etc). Anyone could see that the man behind the curtain wasn't some faceless hacking group; he was just a guy that loved games.
It was all about the love, the dream and the dedication. Maybe those can become nightmares, but isn't it better to burn out in a blaze of glory than to never have tried on those wax wings?
"We'd like to see the gaming industry give emulation a fair chance," Herpolsheimer told PS Extreme. Something not likely to happen now, or ever.
But hey, it's a nice dream.
Tom Rhodes is a writer and filmmaker currently living in Ohio. He can be reached through Tom [dot] Rhod [at] gmail [dot] com