Nintendo has never been coy when it comes to their stance on emulating video games. In our recent article What is the Law on Emulating Video Games? we discussed this in some detail. Little did we know that a few weeks later, Nintendo would launch one of their biggest assaults on the game emulating scene. One against Emuparadise.
What Nintendo Thinks About Game Emulation
Nintendo despises game emulation and believes it to be one of the single biggest threats to game developers.
To be clear, Nintendo occasionally uses game emulation to sell some of their old software on newer hardware. The NES Mini and SNES Mini are a good example of this. They don’t hate that. What we’re referring to is any form of game emulating out of their control. The naughty stuff, which isn’t putting money in their pockets.
None the less, they’ve been very much clear on their opinion surrounding this matter. If you want to read more about what Nintendo think about game emulators, you can do so on their website.
Nintendo Vs Emuparadise
If you’ve ever looked into game emulation, you’ve likely heard of Emuparadise. Emuparadise is a website that allows users to download game ROMs and ISOs from a range of systems. Technically it’s mostly illegal, but many view this website as one of the last great hubs of video game preservation. There’s more out there of course, but this is one of the most prolific.
Emuparadise has been up and running for around 18 years now and has been the go-to place for many people to download their favourite games. It’s a simple solution for some people that may want to try a game before they buy it, that want to make digital backups of their collection or to play a game that may be difficult to obtain by other means.
Emuparadise was recently slapped with a threat of legal action by Nintendo. Now, this appears to not be the first time Nintendo has gone after them. According to a recent post on their website, they’ve “seen it all”. From threatening letters to hosts closing their servers due to complaints, Emuparadise clearly isn’t strangers to all of this. Nintendo’s latest assault, however, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Emuparadise is changing and it’s changing for good.
Nintendo’s Argument – A Double-Edged Sword
Nintendo has the legal right to defend its intellectual property from piracy. With that said, they aren’t doing a great deal to allow their fans access to said property. Yes, there’s the NES & SNES Mini (maybe even an N64 Mini on the horizon). Nintendo also played around with the Virtual Console on the Wii U. This hosts some of their more popular games. Right now though, there’s no word on the Virtual Console ever coming to the Nintendo Switch.
See this is the problem. Nintendo is more than happy to wage a war on emulating games but isn’t allowing players access to the older library. If I want to play Namco’s Whirlo on the SNES today, where do I turn? Am I going to buy it on eBay for more than £200? No! Besides, that money wouldn’t even go to the original developers. There’s only a finite amount of original games out there for us to chase after. The fact of the matter is, one day they’ll all be nothing but dust. Come on Nintendo, where’s the urgency for preservation here?
Nintendo’s main argument against Emuparadise is that they are receiving “substantial ill-gotten gains” off the back of their IP. As much as I don’t like the phrasing, I can somewhat see where they’re coming from. Some may disagree with me, but it stands to reason that Emuparadise is likely making a ton of money.
You see, they’re running ads and receiving large levels of traffic to their website each month. Anybody that’s familiar with the way ad revenue works will know that this website is likely raking in the cash. Why are they receiving so much traffic? Because their website is the go-to place to download older Nintendo games for free! Emuparadise says that they run the website for “the love of retro games” which is likely true, but let’s be clear, the money’s probably a nice bonus.
Who’s in the Right?
It’s hard to say. Legally Nintendo is in the right, but outside of the law… maybe? Just like so many of history’s arguments, the crux of this one is of course money. In my opinion, Emuparadise probably shouldn’t be making the level of money they are off technically stolen property. The ad revenue alone is making enough, meanwhile, they’re asking users to support the site through bitcoin donations. I’m not denying that Emuparadise love retro games, but I’m struggling to believe that they aren’t also in it for the money.
If you paint a masterpiece only for somebody else to then print and charge people to see it, you’ll probably be annoyed. You’d want to reap the rewards of your creation correct? But what if you had all the money you could ever need and forgot that masterpiece ever existed? Would it still annoy you OR would you just be glad that it’s being appreciated again?
Ultimately, various people will answer differently to that. When it comes to Nintendo though, I wonder whether it was worth hurting their fans to reclaim ownership of titles that they’ll mostly make little use of. When you’ve got all the money you could ever need, is that little bit extra really worth it?
Has Nintendo Won the War on Illegal Game Emulation?
Absolutely not. This is all too little too late for Nintendo. They’ve thrown their weight around and made a statement, but will it change anything? Not really. Remember, Emuparadise has been around for approximately 18 years. I can’t even begin to imagine how many people have downloaded games from there in that amount of time. The games are out there and in public possession. Sure, access might be a little more complicated, but not much more.
In my opinion, Nintendo should be looking to take ownership of the game emulation scene, not tear it down. They’re fighting a war that can’t be won, so if you can’t beat them, join them. There’s nothing to stop Nintendo allowing fans access to their overshadowed library of games for free or even for a small sum. Right now though, it seems they would rather slowly drip-feed the occasional game to us. Oh well! Let’s all go and play through Ocarina of Time again.