Nintendo wants to avoid the fair on the Steam Deck

Nintendo wants to avoid emulation of Wii and GameCube games being too simple on the Steam Deck.

Capture of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess // Source: Nintendo

Nintendo goes to war against emulation! The Japanese firm seems determined to reduce the party and make the handling as difficult as possible for players who would like to hack its games.

DMCA requests galore

Earlier this month, the Switch game The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaked on the internet about ten days before its official release. Some therefore took the opportunity to run it on an emulator and enjoy it in 4K on PC, in an even better version than the original.

This leak apparently angered Nintendo, which launched a series of DMCA requests against certain Switch emulators available on GitHub in particular. But, they are not the only ones to have received a complaint from Nintendo’s legal department.

The Slim Back Emulator

On the official website of the Dolphin emulator, allowing you to run Wii and GameCube games, we learn that the Steam page of the tool has been removed by Valve in response to a DMCA request from Nintendo. The project is thereforepostponed indefinitelyand the team behind the emulator investigates possible options.

It is of course possible to appeal, especially since emulation is not illegal in itself, under certain conditions. To stay in this gray area, however, emulators must avoid using elements under proprietary license and it would appear that Dolphin Emulator specifically integrates Nintendo’s cryptographic keys to interpret the games.

Quoting the DMCA: “the Dolphin emulator operates by incorporating these cryptographic keys without Nintendo’s authorization and decrypting the ROMs at or immediately before runtime.”

…this is objectively true. I just checked, the Wii Common Key is in the emulator source code.

—Yakumono (@LuigiBlood) May 27, 2023

If this is really the case, it will be difficult to appeal this decision.

The targeted Steam Deck?

While Dolphin’s Steam page is no longer functional, the emulator can still be downloaded from the official website or its GitHub page. It would therefore seem that Nintendo wants above all to prevent the project from having a storefront on the largest platform for downloading PC games.

Moreover, the fact that the emulator is available on Steam greatly simplifies its installation on a platform equipped with SteamOS… like the Steam Deck for example. Of course, installation is still possible on this portable console, but then it becomes more complex and much less visible.

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