I think you know where I stand if you’re reading this.

Corporate bootlickers love to celebrate whenever their favourite anticonsumer entity stomps down a community just trying to enjoy the games they love. Sure, there are arguments to be made about the legality of every move the yuzu, skyline, citra, ryujinx, dolphin, etc. have made. there are even arguments about the ethics of the communities they enable and support, or some of the actions of individual developers on those aforementioned projects. But at the end of the day, what you’re celebrating is a company with infinitely deep pockets shutting down a community project because they dared to violate the sanctity of their system. What pisses me off especially is smash players celebrating this “victory” for “their” company. As fucking if nintendo has been good and pure in their intentions towards that community. Read up on the history of your own community before you go deepthroating that leather, jesus fucking christ.

Anyways, to regain the calmer emotional tone i prefer to keep on my website, let’s talk about the ethics of emulation as a whole. From standalone arcade games all the way up to the nintendo switch 2, I’d like to put forth my argument for why it should always be, and remain ethical in the minds of the masses.

Why shouldn’t emulators be allowed?

I’d love to start off by examining arguments I commonly see against emulation of consoles from all generations.

It’s their IP! It’s their decision to allow or deny whatever they want.

This, from a purely legal standpoint is an incredibly weak argument. Sony Computer Inc vs Connectix Corporation, Sony Computer Inc vs Bleem, and not as applicable, but even Sega vs Accoladeall explicitly place reverse engineered code as fair use, and additionally carve out protections in the DMCA for console emulators. There isn’t much ethical argument to be made here, the courts deem it just.

However, I will make it anyways. When you buy a product, that product is now yours. If you in a white room, reverse engineer that console and reimplement its inner workings on whatever other hardware you want, that should be, and is, well within your rights. There is nothing unethical about learning how something you own in its entirety works.

They still stand to make money off of their modern consoles and those games!

This, in my opinion, is a stronger argument than the last ones, however i still see many flaws in this logic. Firstly, this assumes that the point of emulation is facilitating piracy. This is categorically false. Emulator development is a testament to one’s technical skill, as it requires a wide range of knowledge in order to go from a complete console that they have in their hands, to a game for that console running on their computer is a monumental accomplishment. Secondarily, for consoles that are no longer supported by their manufacturers, it serves as a way to preserve the experiences contained within thousands and thousands of games that simply would be lost to time. Incredible pieces of gaming history like metroid, mega man, mario, asteroids, space invaders, pacman, super mario 64, metal gear, and so many more games would be near-impossible to be experienced by modern gamers, and that would suck. You should be able to play these games. It’d be a waste to lose these to time.

Now, lets run with the assumption that emulators directly encourage and facilitate piracy. I feel it should be obvious that this is absolutely not the case, so I’ll lay out a hypothetical for you. Bunnei, original author of both citra and yuzu, also runs a website that directly hosts both 3ds and nintendo switch rom files, along with hosting the necessary decryption keys and firmwares to run these games effectively. Not only do they run this site, but they implement a feature in the installers for both citra and yuzu that directly whispers the phrase “go to https://bunnei-piracy.ru to get free games for this emulator” into the user’s ear. This practice, obviously, would be illegal. Distributing copyrighted software is directly against the DMCA. But, is it unethical? This is where opinions tend to differ, and it becomes near impossible to make a concrete decision. I feel that it is ethical and morally sound, given nintendo’s history of anti-consumer practices, constantly shutting down amazing projects in the communities that I and many others love, and keeping an iron fist around the IP that they stand to gain nothing from. for what they do to their community, and the people who love their games, I cannot forgive them, and find that piracy in the interest of not supporting the company that does those things is ethical and morally sound. Even from a monetary standpoint, numerous studies have found that piracy can even help revenue in the long run. But, I can still see an argument against that being ethical here, and that seems to just be down to a difference in value systems from person to person. I can live with that.

Why should emulators be allowed?