Creators Of Nintendo 3DS And Switch Emulators To Pay Nintendo $2.4 Million Over Piracy Charges

These developers were asked to surrender the domain name to Nintendo and all its digital and physical assets.

Yuzu Team

On Mar 5, 2024, Japanese gaming company Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Yuzu, the developers behind the 3DS and Switch Emulators, asking them to pay a sum of $2.4 million in the U.S. Federal Court, asserting that the emulator is predominantly intended to bypass multiple layers of Switch encryption, thereby enabling the playback of Nintendo games on devices like the Steam Deck.

“Plaintiff Nintendo of America Inc. (“Plaintiff” or “Nintendo”) and Tropic Haze LLC (“Defendant” or “Tropic Haze”), by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby consent to judgment in favor of Nintendo, and jointly move the Court to enter monetary relief in the sum of US$2,400,000.00 in favor of Nintendo and against Defendant.” 

The official Yuzu website suggests that the tool is to be used with software you yourself own: “You are legally required to dump your games from your Nintendo Switch” — but it’s common knowledge, that this is not how these tools are primarily used.

In their filing, Nintendo contended that Tropic Haze bore responsibility for the dissemination of illicit copies of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, asserting that the game had been subjected to piracy on about one million occasions prior to its release.

According to the lawsuit, Yuzu’s Patreon page allegedly facilitated a monthly revenue of $30,000 for its developers through the provision of “daily updates,” “early access,” and “special unreleased features” to games such as Tears of the Kingdom.

Following this, these developers were asked to surrender the domain name to Nintendo, agree to delete not only its copies of Yuzu but also all circumvention tools used for developing or using Yuzu.

As a result, the Nintendo 3DS emulator Citra and Switch emulator Yuzu ceased to exist with immediate effect.

Nintendo has previously pursued legal recourse against creators of emulation software on multiple occasions. In 2021, the ROM-hosting website RomUniverse was mandated to compensate Nintendo with $2.1 million in compensation for violating copyright and federal trademark laws.

In the year 2018, Nintendo was awarded a sum over $12 million in compensation subsequent to a successful legal action against the ROM-hosted websites LoveRETRO and LoveROMs.

In the early 2000s, Sony initiated legal proceedings against emulators developed by Connectix and Bleem! Both parties provided support to the emulator developers. However, subsequent technological advancements raise significant concerns over the potential legal implications of bypassing the encryption of the Switch, a practice that is generally prohibited under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Yuzu, an open-source Nintendo Switch emulator, was initially launched in 2018 and was constructed using the C++ programming language. Shortly after its introduction, it has been employed to simulate a multitude of Nintendo Switch games.

The subject of hardware emulation continues to be a contentious issue, as certain experts in game preservation argue in favor of emulating legacy platforms that have been decommissioned. The Switch, on the other hand, is anticipated to continue serving as Nintendo’s primary platform until at least 2025 and has encountered a significant prevalence of piracy throughout its lifespan.

Source: IGN