The clash between Nintendo and emulation continues to rage on. The long-standing video game company has always had a contentious relationship with the homebrew and mod community. In the past, Nintendo has issued DMCA notices and full-on takedowns of emulation websites that have allowed people to download ROMs of their first-party games. This pattern continues with another takedown by Nintendo as an important tool for those that try to emulate Nintendo Switch games.
Nintendo has now gone after various outlets like GitHub for having homebrew tools, such as Lockpick. For those who don’t know, Lockpick is a utility that has been around for a long time that allows Switch games to be emulated. Users can dump a console’s unique encryption key to a PC and play ROMs of Switch games on emulation software. Lockpick, and other utilities like it, have enabled many players to play leaked versions of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ahead of its official release.
Most likely the aggressive moves on these emulation tools by Nintendo are due in part to Tears of the Kingdom being pirated, with many of the game’s big plot points leaking online. Because of this, media outlets like Kotaku have written and published full spoilers of the game, which caused a major uproar online from Zelda fans eagerly awaiting the game’s release. The controversy from this comes shortly after it was revealed by Kotaku editor Ethan Gach that the website was blacklisted by Nintendo following a previous article published on Kotaku that allegedly encouraged readers to look into playing Metroid Dread on Nintendo Switch emulators upon its release.
Chatter about Nintendo’s actions on social media has been on fire since everything initially took place. Switch homebrew programmer ItsSimonTime informed followers about the DMCA notices sent out by Nintendo to various places requesting Lockpick to be taken down. “Nintendo has just issued multiple DMCA takedown requests to GitHub, including for Lockpick, the tool for dumping keys from YOUR OWN Switch, which is absolutely ludicrous – pirates aren’t gonna be sourcing keys from their own consoles!”
Nintendo has just issued multiple DMCA takedown requests to GitHub, including for Lockpick, the tool for dumping keys from YOUR OWN Switch, which is absolutely ludicrous – pirates aren't gonna be sourcing keys from their own consoles!https://t.co/QePiLPTjmm
— Simon Aarons (@ItsSimonTime) May 4, 2023
Other users in the same thread took a different point of view, empathizing with Nintendo and their actions in the wake of everything that leaked. One user felt the rampant pirating of the latest Zelda game prompted Nintendo to be more aggressive than usual. “I mean, what did you expect? People literally are using these tools to pirate Tears of the Kingdom. Pirates once again ruining things for everyone.”
Various users also talked about how emails were being sent from GitHub to users who were hosting some of the tools that Nintendo was going after. One person shared some of the content of the emails, which has been since reported by multiple outlets, pointing out the reason for Nintendo’s request to take the tools down. “The use of Lockpick with a modified Nintendo Switch console allows users to bypass Nintendo’s Technological Measures for video games; specifically, Lockpick bypasses the Console TPMs [Trusted Platform Modules] to permit unauthorized access to, extraction of, and decryption of all the cryptographic keys, including product keys, contained in the Nintendo Switch… The decrypted keys facilitate copyright infringement by permitting users to play pirated versions of Nintendo’s copyright-protected game software on systems without Nintendo’s Console TPMs or systems on which Nintendo’s Console TPMs have been disabled.”
The counterargument from those within the emulation community points out that users need Lockpick and other utilities like it to emulate games they already own. Some expressed disappointment and anger about how this move by Nintendo forces them to try and obtain keys for games illegally in order to emulate games legally. While there are multiple arguments and perspectives on all sides, Nintendo continues to stay firm on its stance on emulation and piracy. The recent events involving The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom appear to embolden them further on it.
What do you think about Nintendo’s recent actions on emulation software and more? Do you think the leaks for the latest Zelda game have made things worse for everyone? Post a comment down below and let your voice be heard!
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