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Dolphin Emulator devs give up on Steam release

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After all the ruckus recently about the Dolphin Emulator for Wii and GameCube coming to Steam, and then being blocked - the team has now given up with the Steam release.

They remained pretty silent on it since the initial announcement, which caused a lot of speculation and confusion but now they're explaining their side and how they feel about it going forward after seeking legal advice. The good news, is that nothing is going to happen to Dolphin and development sounds like it's just continuing as normal. It's just not able to have a release on Steam since Nintendo asked Valve not to allow it on the store.

So, after a long stay of silence, we have a difficult announcement to make. We are abandoning our efforts to release Dolphin on Steam. Valve ultimately runs the store and can set any condition they wish for software to appear on it. But given Nintendo's long-held stance on emulation, we find Valve's requirement for us to get approval from Nintendo for a Steam release to be impossible. Unfortunately, that's that. But there are some more serious matters to discuss, some that are much bigger than Dolphin's Steam Release.

Dolphin Team

The big issue surrounds the inclusion of the Wii Common Key, which is required for the emulator to be able to run Wii games, which they said has been in their code for around 15 years without an issue.

The Dolphin team claim a lot of "armchair lawyers" talked about how foolish they have been for including it but they said "now that we have done our homework and talked to a lawyer, we are no longer concerned". They have no plans to remove it, as after getting legal advice they believe there's no issue since Dolphin itself is "not primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection".

After news about it spread around they claim they had "many requests, and even some demands, to remove all Wii keys from our codebase" but they don't think it matters and they think if they removed it and then relied on 3rd party applications it would "make the situation worse for everyone". Their message to the "armchair lawyers":

And to all the armchair lawyers out there, the letter to Valve did not make any claims that we were violating a US copyright by including the Wii Common Key, as a short string of entirely random letters and numbers generated by a machine is not copyrightable under current US copyright law. If that ever changes, the world will be far too busy to think about emulation.

Dolphin Team

Not only will development carry on as normal, so you'll just need to grab Dolphin as you always have done from elsewhere, but some elements from the Steam release will still be continued like the big screen interface that can be used directly with a gamepad. 

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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31 comments
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dpanter Jul 20, 2023
Good news failed successfully. Screw Nintendo.
Klaas Jul 20, 2023
That's a shame
emphy Jul 20, 2023
QuoteAnd to all the armchair lawyers out there, the letter to Valve did not make any claims that we were violating a US copyright by including the Wii Common Key, as a short string of entirely random letters and numbers generated by a machine is not copyrightable under current US copyright law. I

Well, as an armchair lawyer myself I can tell you that it's not any alleged copyright on the key that is the legal problem, it's that one can use the key to circumvent digital restrictions.

For the same reason, most linux distro's don't ship with decryption libraries for dvd's or bluray disks.


Last edited by emphy on 20 July 2023 at 10:07 am UTC
Belaptir Jul 20, 2023
Quoting: dpanterGood news failed successfully. Screw Nintendo.
Very few companies go so far to screw their customers as Nintendo goes. And even fewer have a fanbase as fervorous when it comes to defend it as Nintendo does.
I loved Nintendo games, but enough is enough and one day I had enough of their BS so it's been years now since last time I bought a Nintendo game.

Not a single day passes without my friends calling me a hater because I don't accept Nintendo's BS and instead point it out every time they screw customers. Apparently, having someb principles means being a sad troll that only wants to hate Nintendo because it's mainstream.
akselmo Jul 20, 2023
Scumbag Nintendo
Pengling Jul 20, 2023
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Quotebut some elements from the Steam release will still be continued like the big screen interface that can be used directly with a gamepad.
That's good news, at least. Dolphin already has an excellent, clear interface, and it'll be nice to have a gamepad-friendly equivalent going forward - that's been one of the only things that I felt was missing.

Quoting: BelaptirVery few companies go so far to screw their customers as Nintendo goes. And even fewer have a fanbase as fervorous when it comes to defend it as Nintendo does.
Even when I was a fan myself, I was never happy with that status-quo - it was difficult to have sensible conversations about what the business got right or wrong, to say the least!

Quoting: BelaptirI loved Nintendo games, but enough is enough and one day I had enough of their BS so it's been years now since last time I bought a Nintendo game.
Sounds like we're in the same boat, as that's the direction that I took a bit shy of two years ago (I mentioned that in the previous Dolphin news-thread, though). Turns out that the grass really was greener on the other side, thankfully!

Quoting: BelaptirNot a single day passes without my friends calling me a hater because I don't accept Nintendo's BS and instead point it out every time they screw customers. Apparently, having someb principles means being a sad troll that only wants to hate Nintendo because it's mainstream.
Funnily enough, I've had the opposite experience amongst my gaming friends, many of whom I met via Nintendo's games. We've all ended up similarly disillusioned for similar reasons, so we just reminisce about the good games we grew up with, whilst sharing word on new non-Nintendo titles of interest.

There've been some very good indie spiritual-successors lately! Pizza Tower and Ex-Zodiac have been particular highlights for me, since Nintendo stopped bothering with Wario Land and Star Fox a long time ago.


Last edited by Pengling on 20 July 2023 at 11:13 am UTC
StoneColdSpider Jul 20, 2023
Quoting: BelaptirNot a single day passes without my friends calling me a hater because I don't accept Nintendo's BS and instead point it out every time they screw customers. Apparently, having some principles means being a sad troll that only wants to hate Nintendo because it's mainstream.
Quoting: PenglingEven when I was a fan myself, I was never happy with that status-quo - it was difficult to have sensible conversations about what the business got right or wrong, to say the least!
I get this a lot too....... It gets annoying seeing people irrationally defend a giant soulless corporation like its a close personal friend...... I honestly have never understood that mentality...... These corporations are not your friends...... They just want your money......
ssj17vegeta Jul 20, 2023
Genuine question here : what's the benefit of having an emulator on Steam, apart from the automatic updates ?
Eike Jul 20, 2023
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Quoting: ssj17vegetaGenuine question here : what's the benefit of having an emulator on Steam, apart from the automatic updates ?

Public visibility, I guess?
Belaptir Jul 20, 2023
Quoting: PenglingSounds like we're in the same boat, as that's the direction that I took a bit shy of two years ago (I mentioned that in the previous Dolphin news-thread, though). Turns out that the grass really was greener on the other side, thankfully!

To me the break point was a horrible experience with the customer service and a pair of joycons (it took them 6 months to correctly repair them, veeeeery long story). After that, I decided that Nintendo was too much crap for me to accept.

Quoting: PenglingFunnily enough, I've had the opposite experience amongst my gaming friends, many of whom I met via Nintendo's games. We've all ended up similarly disillusioned for similar reasons, so we just reminisce about the good games we grew up with, whilst sharing word on new non-Nintendo titles of interest

I have friends that play PS, Xbox and Nintendo. By far, the worse are the last ones. In the end I just accept that they are similar to religious fanaticals and simply ignore them, because it's impossible to talk about Nintendo and not feel like you're talking about religion with them.
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