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Nintendo Proves that Official Emulation Just Can’t (Won’t) Compete

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By Nelson Schneider - 04/10/22 at 04:31 PM CT

Last year, at about this time, the big gaming bugaboo was the fact that Sony was planning to shut-down access to their digital PlayStation Store for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation Portable. This news, combined with the fact that an known bug in Sony’s firmware could invalidated digital purchases until the user reconnected their device to the PlayStation Store, saw a massive grassroots backlash which effectively “forced” (insofar as regular persons can force Corporate Persons to do anything) Sony to keep 2/3 of their slated-for-closure stores up and running, AND to patch the ownership issue.

Well, this year, Nintendo decided to do almost the exact same thing! While Wii and DSi owners haven’t been able to make purchases from those consoles’ digital stores in quite some time, recently, the stores were unceremoniously shut-down with no notice. Well, technically, there was some notice: Specifically, a Nintendo announcement that the WiiU and 3DS eShops will be meeting the same fate in 2023.

Not only does cutting off redownload rights to digital purchases from these legacy platforms do terrible things from a “games preservation” standpoint, leaving a beefy number of 7th and 8th Gen releases in limbo with no way to experience them except on still-working Wii/DSi/WiiU/3DS hardware that already have said titles installed, it completely destroys Nintendo’s earlier – and not quite as egregiously greedy and user-hostile – experiments in official emulation.

Rich, the vlogger and host of the ReviewTechUSA YouTube channel has been covering the situation closely, and has posted a couple of incredibly insightful videos.

Nintendo is effectively refusing to participate in any form of games preservation, engaging in excessive monetization, and behaving in an overly litigious manner. This is a company that went from selling overpriced ROMs wrapped in DRM and stand-alone emulators in an a la carte manner to only offering a selection of poorly-curated ROMs as part of a subscription-only buffet, in which the user is forced to pay perpetually for access to a smorgasbord of (bad) game ROMs they may not want instead of paying once for a “license” to play a specific legacy game of particular interest.

Gabe Newell said it best when he described game piracy as a “service problem.” Console makers – especially Nintendo and Sony – are completely out of touch with the reality of modern software development, and with their stingy, grasping, lawyerly behavior perpetually demonstrate that they seem to think nothing has changed since the halcyon days of the 5th Generation, when the PlayStation and Nintendo 64 duked it out for domination of a landscape still ruled by physical media, and nobody even spared a thought for backward compatibility.

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