Nintendo Sues Creators of Switch Emulator Yuzu

Nintendo Sues the developers of Yuzu
Image Courtesy: Nintendo
In Short
  • Nintendo is suing the developers of the popular Switch emulator Yuzu.
  • As per the lawsuit, the developer claims that Yuzu indirectly results in piracy and uses the Legend of Zelda leaks as an example.
  • The console maker is looking for compensation for damages and for the immediate shutdown of the emulator.

It’s no secret that Nintendo is a litigation-happy company regarding its brands and IPs, and it seems that Yuzu creators are learning that the hard way. In a move that no one expected, the Japan-based console maker and game developer sued the creators of the popular Yuzu emulator for the Nintendo Switch. For the uninitiated, Yazu is an open-source emulator that can run Nintendo Switch games on platforms like PC. Naturally, Nintendo did not like that.

On Monday, Nintendo filed a 41-page lawsuit against Tropic Haze, Yuzu’s company, in Rhode Island court. Stephen Totilo of Game File first noticed the lawsuit and shared the same on his X account (formerly Twitter). As per the lawsuit, Nintendo argues that Yuzu circumvents the security in place for the console. This resulted in unauthorized copies of games played on PCs and Android devices and facilitated piracy.

For damages incurred, Nintendo mentions explicitly the release of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. The company claims that a week before the game’s launch, a copy of the game file leaked online. Many people downloaded the emulator to play the leaked version during this time.

Furthermore, Nintendo claims Yuzu saw significant growth on its Patreon tiers between May 1 and May 15, 2023. This resulted in the creators earning at least $50,000 in paid Yuzu downloads. Nintendo points to these anecdotes to claim that Yuzu propagates piracy and has asked the emulator to shut down. Additionally, the company is also seeking damages from the emulator.

While Nintendo has a history of running around to shut down ROM Sites and fan projects, this particular case is weird. Emulation isn’t illegal. It helps with preservation. When you run pirated copies of games on an emulator, that is considered illegal. Even then, that falls into a morally grey area.

One of the most prominent cases of a publisher losing a litigation battle over emulation comes from 1999. Sony sued the Connectix Virtual Game Station, a PlayStation 1 emulator. However, the court favored the emulator group, which is partly why emulation is considered legal today. This MVG video covers the whole history in a neat format.

Nevertheless, the Connectix vs Sony case was in 1999, and opinions have changed since. Only time will tell who the court will favor in this lawsuit. What are your thoughts about this entire saga? Let us know in the comments below.

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