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Nintendo blocked Dolphin emulator release on Steam

By - | Views: 86,810

Update 29/05: According to Pierre Bourdon on Mastodon, who was Dolphin's treasurer for the foundation backing the project (Bourdon is stepping down), Valve actually initiated the conversation to check in with Nintendo on this. So this is not a DMCA takedown request but Nintendo said it would violate the DMCA anti-circumvention provisions, so Valve took it down. So there's technically nothing for Dolphin to counter here.

Kotaku also got a statement from Nintendo on this:

“Nintendo is committed to protecting the hard work and creativity of video game engineers and developers,” a spokesperson for Nintendo told Kotaku in an email. “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.”

The article title was updated to better reflect the situation.

Original article below for context:

Back in March the plan was announced for the Wii and GameCube emulator Dolphin to release on Steam, along with some useful Steam features but now that seems unlikely to happen.

The Dolphin team has now announced that their Steam page was taken down, as Nintendo sent a cease and desist notice to Valve about it. Here's the statement they released:

It is with much disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed. 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. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future.

We appreciate your patience in the meantime.

Such a shame.

Why now though? Dolphin has been around since 2003 for GameCube, adding basic Wii support in 2007, so Dolphin was there during the time the Wii was still being fully supported. Nintendo also only went after the Steam page, not the project as a whole as it can still be found on GitHub and official site. According to a comment from the Citra developer on Reddit, it's due to Dolphin including decryption keys with the project.

Really, it's not going to do Nintendo much good, it's put Dolphin all over the news and even more people will now know about it and end up using it.

Article taken from
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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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Pecisk May 27, 2023
Nintendo USA has notoriously big army of lawyers who will attack anything mercilessly what appears in their spotlights. It is just what they are. I wouldn't tempt faith with this. It is good that emulator exists and will grow and evolve.
Kneewax May 27, 2023

I'm off to download Dolphin again.

Not used it in years.

But now I feel like giving it a go again.

No reason.
BlackBloodRum May 27, 2023
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Why? Well it's simple. Nintendo are an anti-consumer, anti-fan company. It's just in their nature. This is not the first time things like this have been launched against fans.
StoneColdSpider May 27, 2023
Ironic...... Considering Nintendo were the ones that pushed me down the path of Emulation and Linux.......

I use the stand alone Dolphin Emulator a lot..... Its really damn good...... One of the best......

Last edited by StoneColdSpider on 27 May 2023 at 11:24 am UTC
finaldest May 27, 2023
I was thinking of buying a switch oled this weekend for the family as I was recently offered a good deal.

With this behaviour from Nintendo, It is now NOT happening.

My advice is always vote with your wallet.
Jahimself May 27, 2023
it's a shame that international law can't protect us from these yakuza grotesque behavior.
StalePopcorn May 27, 2023
Nintendo, the Apple of gaming…
Pengling May 27, 2023
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QuoteWhy now though?
What I find curious is that Nintendo's modus-operandi has traditionally been to turn a blind eye and only take action when a project is in a field that they are also in (for example, fan-games that threaten to detract attention from their own commercial releases), or if they feel that they have lost control of "their" information (for example, when a subcontractor posts job-listings relating to yet-to-be-announced games). "Why now?" is absolutely the right question.

It does make me wonder... (Indeed, anyone who's noticed how one particular franchise has been co-opted to promote outside content and downplay their own may very well be wondering the same thing.)

Quoting: finaldestMy advice is always vote with your wallet.
Absolutely this. I used to be a big fan of Nintendo's, but they put me off of them after they took various series I'd formerly enjoyed in directions that I didn't like, moved over to having large of amounts of expensive pre-planned DLC for major releases, promoting adult-rated games in non-adult-rated games, moving from openly opt-in to sparsely-signposted opt-out telemetry, cutting basic features that were present for decades and then adding them back in via drip-feed free updates purely for social-media "buzz", and having loot-box mechanics in their promotional mobile games. It feels like they've been working hard to alienate long-time fans who liked them for *not* doing these things.

I've been using Linux since 2007, so I ditched the Switch in September 2021 and moved all of my gaming over, and have never felt any need to look back - I've played more stuff in the last year-and-a-half than I did between the Switch's launch in March 2017 to the date that I sold up and cashed out.
pb May 27, 2023
> Why now though?

Perhaps they want to prevent Dolphin from being discovered and easily available for the SteamDeck crowd?
Linuxwarper May 27, 2023
"Why now?"

It's because prior to Steam Deck there was no inexpensive and amazing PC handheld with major backing. Aya Neo was expensive and Windows handheld experience was not great. With purchases of Windows handhelds causing fragmentation even. But with Steam Deck emulator devs can optimize for one capable device that has a large userbase. Not only that but Valve is right there in trenches looking to how to streamline and improve emulation. This culminates into a greater ease of use for emulating games on Deck i.e it's closer to plug and play.

Already Switch hardware is outdated with emulation giving better experience. People's main argument for Switch is it's ease of use. But if Valve and emudevs make ease of use for Deck almost the same as Switch..why buy Switch and have worse performance and freedom?

Also before Windows handhelds emulation was done on a variety of different PC configs; that kind of fragmentation has a major effect on how optimized and user friendly devs can make emulation. Nintendo didn't need to worry about the threat of emulation as they could just point to their hardware being seamless as to why you should buy their hardware. Dolphin on Steam would be another step towards making emulation on Deck more seamless, maybe even make use of Steam's API for multiplayer too.

Last edited by Linuxwarper on 27 May 2023 at 12:45 pm UTC
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