Nintendo Switch Emulator Yuzu Officially Shut Down, Devs to pay Nintendo $2.4 Million

Late last month Nintendo officially filed suit against the makers of Yuzu, one of the most popular Switch emulators. While most expected the case to drag on in typical legal fashion, it turns out it’s already been settled, and not in Yuzu’s favor.

Per the settlement agreement between Nintendo and developer Tropic Haze, the latter will cease “offering to the public, providing, marketing, advertising, promoting, selling, testing, hosting, cloning, distributing, or otherwise trafficking Yuzu or any source code or features of Yuzu.” In addition to that, the makers of Yuzu have to pay Nintendo $2.4 million in damages.

While some who didn’t want to hear it wouldn’t accept it, Yuzu’s chances in this case were not good. While emulators are legal in broad terms, Yuzu circumvents Nintendo’s encryption, and apparently, the devs provided detailed instructions for obtaining keys needed to play emulated games amongst other no-nos. Turning Yuzu into a for-profit enterprise with a Patreon probably also didn’t help matters!

A message has been posted to Discord confirming the shutdown of Yuzu, and perhaps the 3DS emulator Citra, with the devs making the rather implausible claim they were always anti-piracy and have just now realized what some were using their emulator for.

“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. So 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.”

I’m sure there will be plenty of gnashing of teeth over this, but let’s not deny the obvious. Yes, emulation is important to game preservation, but there’s not really any “game preservation” element to people playing The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for free weeks before it officially releases.

What this means to the future of emulation remains unclear. Again, emulation itself remains legal, it’s other things related to the decryption of Nintendo Switch games and dumping keys that got Yuzu in trouble. So, emulators will continue to exist – somebody’s probably working on something new as we speak — but ones that rely on the same scheme as Yuzu? That era is likely done.

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