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Nintendo Has Taken Its First Step to Eliminate Emulators

Nintendo has made puzzling decisions in the past, from taking down fan games, mods, community projects, grassroots tournaments, and more. With all that being said, Nintendo’s greatest enemy for the longest time has been emulation, which was dubbed a legal grey area after the suit with Atari back in 1983.

Game preservationists have long since celebrated the existence of emulation as crucial to their art. Game console hardware dies out after being out of production for so long. Discs and game cartridges rot, with over 87% of games in existence being lost to time. Ripping legally acquired games with community-made software and/or hardware has been the only option to preserve them.

Now after a lawsuit against Yuzu was filed on February 26th, Nintendo has taken one major step toward their apparent quest against emulation. Pictured below are the posts that broke the news.

After a $2.4 million settlement agreed to by the Yuzu team, they agreed to shut down both Yuzu and Citra, a Switch and 3DS emulator respectively. This case is at the forefront of the current legal history of emulators. By agreeing to shutter their doors and delete all files and history related to those projects, instead of going to court, they mitigated any damage to the legal status of emulators.

Nintendo Deals a Major Blow to Game Preservation

Nintendo has made some minor strides to preserve their most popular games on only their most up-to-date consoles. However, all of those efforts have been deleted since the Wii, then the DS, and 3DS shops closures. The Switch’s library of classic games has mostly been locked to a subscription service, making Nintendo the one-stop shop for retro games. Unless you want to pay $800 for a copy of Mario 64 secondhand. Which had a limited release of its Switch port (Super Mario 3D Allstars) that you can’t buy anymore.

All this news is making people worry about the state of emulation going forward, and if Nintendo will tarnish the efforts of those trying to preserve video game history further. In my opinion, this will backfire on the legal acquisition of games, and instead lead to a new age of video game piracy. With less access to emulation, and legal access to retro games being more and more expensive. It’s a wonder if game preservation will even be a thing much longer. 

I will end this article by saying I do not condone piracy, and you should rip your games legally. Part of what shut down Yuzu was the rampant piracy of Switch games. Tears of the Kingdom was pirated at least one million times according to Nintendo. If you’re going to back up your games, do it with the hardware and software required. Piracy just makes things worse when Nintendo can use it as a weapon against emulators. We’ll see what happens as things develop further.

Marcoangelo

Games Journalist, Competitive Pokemon/VGC Player, Content Creator

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