According to the Japanese gaming giant, it’s “committed to protecting the hard work and creativity.”
“This emulator illegally circumvents Nintendo’s protection measures and runs illegal copies of games. Using illegal emulators or illegal copies of games harms development and ultimately stifles innovation. Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies, and in turn, expects others to do the same.” said Nintendo.
While Dolphin has been around for a number of years, it recently caught the gaming giant’s attention after revealing plans to release on Steam, making installing the emulator a far more accessible process, particularly on the Steam Deck. Along with GameCube and Wii games, Dolphin can also play Virtual Console titles, including a massive library of NES and SNES games. Still, in order to run games on Dolphin, you need to find ISO GameCube and Wii files online, which while isn’t difficult, it’s not as easy as downloading a game or app from Steam.
On May 27th, the team behind Dolphin Emulator project announced that its Steam version was “indefinitely postponed” after receiving a cease and desist DMCA from Nintendo.
“We were notified by Valve that Nintendo has issued a cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page, and have removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is settled,” said the team behind Dolphin in a statement.
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
What makes Dolphin different from other emulators is that reportedly 40 percent of all GameCube and Wii titles run near-perfectly on the device, and somewhat understandably, Nintendo doesn’t want gamers downloading and playing these titles without it also getting a cut.
That said, emulators like Dolphin are integral to video game preservation and Nintendo Online’s offering of retro titles on the Switch remains lacklustre, so it’s understandable why some turn to emulators to get their retro gaming fix.
For example, I’ve spent a lot of time playing the Wii U’s Wind Waker HD via Emulation Station on my Steam Deck.
Nintendo also recently took legal action against The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leakers.
Image credit: Dolphin Emulator