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Steam Wants Nothing To Do With Nintendo's Piracy Drama

Jul 07, 2023Jul 07, 2023

Valve admits to blocking the Dolphin emulator from launching on Steam, as it backs out of Nintendo's legal drama.

Valve has responded to Nintendo's latest piracy drama, making it clear it wants to stay out of the situation entirely. This comes after Nintendo put legal pressure on the Dolphin emulator, ahead of its planned release on Steam.

Now, it turns out that Valve - well aware of Nintendo's militant attitude against anyone emulating its games - actually wrote to the company to give it a heads-up about Dolphin's Steam launch. In response to Nintendo's objections, Valve blocked the release, wanting to stay far away from the ensuing legal drama. This is a surprising move on Steam's part, given that the storefront usually prides itself on its openness, and very rarely intervenes on what can and cannot be promoted on its service.

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This comes from communications seen by The Verge, proving that Valve took the unexpected move of preventing Dolphin from releasing on Steam. Valve admits to this, saying that it doesn't want to "sit in judgment" on the dispute between the two parties, and says they will have to "go to court, or negotiate between themselves."

"We operate Steam as an open platform, but that relies on creators shipping only things they have the legal right to distribute," reads a statement from Valve. "Given Nintendo's history of taking action against some emulators, we brought this to their attention proactively after the Dolphin team announced it was coming soon to Steam.

"Based on the letter we received, Nintendo and the Dolphin team have a clear legal dispute between them, and Valve can't sit in judgment."

In a letter also seen by The Verge, Nintendo makes it clear that it would try to hold Valve legally liable for any alleged breaches of copyright and intellectual property rights. While not explicitly threatening the company, Nintendo makes it known that it would not be happy with anyone distributing an emulator, whether that be "the Dolphin developers or other third-party platforms," such as Steam.

Here, Nintendo also once again makes its stance on Dolphin clear, labelling it an "illegal emulator" that runs "illegal copies of games." However, it's worth noting that this has never been tested in court, as Dolphin has thus far avoided Nintendo's legal wrath for the most part. Other emulators have also avoided this, as most choose to shut down long before legal proceedings can begin in earnest.

Despite this, the court of public opinion seems to be largely on Dolphin's side. Given that it is used to emulator Wii and GameCube games, many are frustrated that Nintendo fights against it, considering that almost all of these titles are impossible to purchase legitimately. This era of Nintendo is yet to be preserved in the same way that the Nintendo 64 library has, often making emulation the most accessible way to play these games. In any case, it remains to be seen if Nintendo takes any further action against Dolphin, or leaves it now that it seems it won't be launching on Steam anytime soon.

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Rhiannon is the Deputy News Lead at TheGamer, and can often be found starting yet another playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins. Otherwise, she's watching Star Trek, or caring about the Sonic series way too much.