Game

Nintendo wins $2.4M in Yuzu Switch emulator lawsuit

Makers of Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu owe Nintendo $2.4 million after reaching a settlement with the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom developer, following a lawsuit over the open-source emulator just last week. Both Nintendo and Tropic Haze, the company behind Yuzu, filed for a final judgment and permanent injunction on Monday, according to court documents, after Nintendo accused the Yuzu makers of copyright infringement, circumvention of Nintendo’s Switch protections, and selling those circumvention technologies as Yuzu, among other things.

The settlement is pending a judge’s approval, however.

Yuzu is a free Nintendo Switch emulator that was released in 2018 months after Nintendo launched the Nintendo Switch. It’s a piece of software that lets people play Nintendo Switch games on their computers or phones — including Tears of the Kingdom, which Nintendo cited in its lawsuit, saying Yuzu let people play leaked copies of the game early. Specifically, Nintendo said more than 1 million people played the game before the release date because of the leaked copies. Yuzu doesn’t offer pirated or leaked games itself, but Nintendo targeted the company because the emulator is one of the few ways to play those games.

Beyond the money, the terms of the settlement dictate Tropic Haze will have to stop operations on Yuzu entirely — it can’t distribute it in any way, nor can it market it on its website or social media. Yuzu will also have to give up its domain name.

In a statement published on Discord, Yuzu maker Bunnei confirmed that anything related to Yuzu will come offline.

“Piracy was never our intention, and we believe that piracy of video games and on video game consoles should end. Effective today, we will be pulling our code repositories offline, discontinuing our Patreon accounts and Discord servers, and, soon, shutting down our websites,” Bunnei wrote. “We hope our actions will be a small step toward ending piracy of all creators’ works.”

The website, Patreon page, and GitHub repositories for both Yuzu and Nintendo 3DS emulator Citra have all been taken offline. The Discord channel remains online.

A Nintendo representative pointed Polygon toward the Entertainment Software Association when reached for comment on the settlement. Lawyers for the emulator maker did not respond to a request for comment.

The Tears of the Kingdom publisher is known to be strict with its intellectual property. Nintendo’s won several lawsuits targeting pirated game sites like RomUniverse, where it was awarded more than $2 million in damages. Nintendo also notoriously went after an alleged Nintendo Switch hacker named Gary Bowser, who was arrested and charged for selling Switch hacks. Though he’s been released from prison, Bowser still owes Nintendo $10 million; he paid Nintendo $175 while in prison from money he earned working in the prison library and kitchen.

The Nintendo and Yuzu lawsuit has ignited once again a debate on emulation — whether the act of emulation is inherently illegal. Of course, emulation fans don’t believe that: A lot of people see Yuzu and other emulators as an important tool for video game preservation. Nintendo, clearly, disagrees.

Update: Bunnei, one of Yuzu’s creators, published a message addressing the settlement on the group’s Discord page, where they said all Yuzu code, Patreon accounts, and Discord servers will be shut down. We’ve updated this story to include a portion of this statement. Here’s the full message:

Hello yuz-ers and Citra fans:

We write today to inform you that yuzu and yuzu’s support of Citra are being discontinued, effective immediately.

yuzu and its team have always been against piracy. We started the projects in good faith, out of passion for Nintendo and its consoles and games, and were not intending to cause harm. But we see now that because our projects can circumvent Nintendo’s technological protection measures and allow users to play games outside of authorized hardware, they have led to extensive piracy. In particular, we have been deeply disappointed when users have used our software to leak game content prior to its release and ruin the experience for legitimate purchasers and fans.

We have come to the decision that we cannot continue to allow this to occur. Piracy was never our intention, and we believe that piracy of video games and on video game consoles should end. Effective today, we will be pulling our code repositories offline, discontinuing our Patreon accounts and Discord servers, and, soon, shutting down our websites. We hope our actions will be a small step toward ending piracy of all creators’ works.

Thank you for your years of support and for understanding our decision.

Update (4:58 p.m. ET): This story has been updated after the Yuzu and Citra makers took the code, Patreon page, and website offline.



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