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Nintendo has built the reputation of being a litigious company. This time, the Japanese company has dragged the creators of Yuzu, a popular Nintendo Switch emulator, to court, seeking the shutdown of the emulator.

Nintendo Is Suing Creators Of Switch Emulator Yuzu, Said Zelda Illegally Downloaded 1 Million Times

Nintendo described an emulator as “a piece of software that allows users to unlawfully play pirated video games that were published only for a specific console on a general-purpose computing device”. According to Nintendo, Yuzu allows pirates to play Switch games on Android, Linus, and Windows platforms.

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The complaint which was filed at the United States District Court, District of Rhode Island was shared by Game File reporter covering video game news Stephen Totilo on X. The lawsuit specifically made claims on how the emulator has hurt the company financially, especially its biggest release of 2023, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

It was alleged in the court filing found there that Tears of the Kingdom “was unlawfully distributed a week and a half before its release”. Yuzu was accused of “facilitating piracy at a colossal scale,” and that the creators were fully aware of it.

“As to circumvention, Yuzu’s website acknowledges that the Nintendo Switch’s decryption keys (the prod.keys) are required to decrypt games and includes links to software that unlawfully extract those keys from the Nintendo Switch.”

Nintendo Is Suing Creators Of Switch Emulator Yuzu, Said Zelda Illegally Downloaded 1 Million Times

Highlighting the scale of loss the use of Yuzu has caused Nintendo before the release of Tears of the Kingdom, the company said “Infringing copies of the game that circulated online were able to be played in Yuzu, and those copies were successfully downloaded from pirate websites over one million times before the game was published and made available for lawful purchase by Nintendo”.

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“Many of the pirate websites specifically noted the ability to play the game file in Yuzu. Defendant’s development and distribution of Yuzu to the public materially contributes to and induces those third parties to infringe the copyrights in Nintendo’s games. Defendant is thus secondarily liable for the infringement committed by the users to whom it distributes Yuzu.”

Will Nintendo succeed in shutting down Yuzu?

It has been widely established that emulators are not illegal. They are designed to make it possible for people to purchase a game rip the content and play on a platform other than the console it was designed for. However, most use cases of emulators are illegal.

Nintendo Is Suing Creators Of Switch Emulator Yuzu, Said Zelda Illegally Downloaded 1 Million Times

Without establishing that Yuzu enables and benefits from piracy, Nintendo doesn’t have a case against the creators of the emulator. Therefore, it is not surprising that Nintendo has tried to do just that in the way its court filing was framed.

According to Totilo, Nintendo also claimed that Yuzu’s Patreon support doubled around the release of Tears of the Kingdom. In other words, this was trying to directly point to how Yuzu’s business model benefits from and helps piracy flourish.

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The Japanese company claimed that Yuzu spoiled Tears of the Kingdom for players who legitimately purchased the game. It claimed “many fans of The Legend of Zelda were forced to avoid social media to prevent seeing spoilers and preserve their surprise and delight for the actual game release”—and pulled in social media posts from X users to support their claim. However, it is hard to tell if spoilers have become a crime.

Even if the Japanese company succeeds in shutting down Yuzu, it is hardly enough to stop the piracy of Switch games since Yuzu is not the only emulator that plays Switch games. However, many may argue that it may scare others from trying.

Companies are always careful when dealing with Nintendo. In 2022, Valve quickly edited a Steam Deck update video after people pointed out that Yuzu emulator was installed. Valve also recently shut down a Portal 64 project when it learned the creator was using Nintendo’s resources.

Advocates of video game conservation will likely be furious that the Switch maker is trying to kill Yuzu. But people will likely react differently to this news depending on where they are standing.