Nintendo sues Switch emulator stating it’s behind 1 million pirated Zelda games

Here we go again.

Nintendo is famous for its cute games and mascot characters. It’s equally well-known for its lawsuits. For anyone in the world of emulation and game preservation, that means there’s a big risk of litigation. Frankly, it’s at a point where we’re shocked anyone would even try. Now, the creators of Yuzu, a Nintendo Switch emulator, have a lawsuit on their hands.

Yuzu is a free and open-source Switch emulator released way back in January 2018. It’s fairly easy to access due to the fact that it’s on multiple platforms. Rather than the lawsuit generally targeting emulation, though, Nintendo cites a specific instance of piracy.

Leaks saw The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom unlawfully distributed a week and a half before its release. Nintendo alleges that infringing copies of the game were only playable thanks to Yuzu. Worse yet, there were reportedly one million copies pirated ahead of launch. Given that uploaders mention Yuzu by name, Nintendo places a weighted responsibility on the emulator.

As usual, the lawsuit itself is clad with a lot of legal jargon. There’s also an underlying current of discomfort. Yuzu isn’t the only emulator out there, and Nintendo knows that’s the case. Yuzu technically didn’t make the emulator for this purpose, and, as a tool, it’s not illegal in most countries.

It depends on what you’re emulating and your country’s or state’s local laws as to what’s legal. For example, it’s against the law to download any copyrighted material in the UK. In some states in the US, however, there’s a fair use policy. This allows you to rip the contents of copyrighted material that you already own, counting as a digital backup. Nintendo expressly prohibits playing its games on any platform other than its own, but terms and conditions aren’t law.

This entire argument hinges on the idea that Tears of the Kingdom piracy was Yuzu’s fault. Unless the creators of the emulator set the game’s code free on the internet, we’re not certain that’s the case. Nintendo’s intention is probably more of a scare tactic than anything. The brand has enough money to keep a lawsuit going until it bankrupts the defendant, so it’s likely to work. It’s a sad sight, frankly, and one we’re not keen on seeing. What a way to set the stage for a Nintendo Switch 2