Nintendo sues company for piracy on ‘colossal scale’

WASHINGTON — “Super Mario” giant Nintendo has filed a lawsuit against a US maker of software that allows video gamers to play games intended for its hugely popular Switch device on their PC or smartphone.

The company behind “Legend of Zelda” and “Donkey Kong” is looking to clamp down on the operations of a company called Tropic Haze, registered in the US state of Rhode Island, which owns and runs Yuzu, a popular video game emulator.

A video game emulator is a piece of software that you can download onto your PC or smartphone to play video games intended for a specific console, such as the Switch, PlayStation or Xbox.

Initially, emulators were developed to play games that were no longer published on the latest consoles, before vintage gaming became a market in its own right for Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft.

The defendant is “fully aware” that Yuzu is “facilitating piracy at a colossal scale” the company said in the suit, which was filed on Monday in a federal court in Rhode Island.

“Today, Yuzu provides any internet user in the world with the means to unlawfully decrypt and play virtually any Nintendo Switch game — including Nintendo’s current generation and most popular games — without ever paying a dime for a Nintendo console or for that game,” the company said.

“And to be clear, there is no lawful way to use Yuzu to play Nintendo Switch games,” it added. 

The Japanese gaming juggernaut accuses the company of going out of its way to circumvent elaborate safeguards and encryption to make Nintendo games available to Yuzu’s users.

Nintendo said that Yuzu’s creators were in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a US law that makes it illegal to  work around the firewalls put in place to block pirating of copyrighted works.

Neither Yuzu or Tropic Haze could be reached for comment.

The company underlined that Yuzu was an important platform for existing games but also for playing games that were illegally leaked before their release.

Last year’s “Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom,” was downloaded one million times before its release with pirate websites directing users to Yuzu to play the game, the suit alleged.

The company said Tropic Haze was liable for thousands of dollars in damages for each copyright violation. — AFP / pic TMR FILE