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Dolphin Emulator's Steam Release Thwarted by Nintendo's Opposition, Developers Provide Insights

Last update: Aug 23, 2023


Dolphin's Wii and GameCube emulator won't be making its way to Steam, despite previous plans. The developers addressed the situation in a recent blog post, shedding light on the failed launch and expressing their belief in their legal standing. Essentially, Nintendo's legal team opposed the emulator's presence on Steam, and Valve, unwilling to engage in a potential conflict with the gaming giant, chose not to take a stand.

The creators of the emulator clarified that Nintendo did not issue a DMCA takedown notice or any other legal action against them, contrary to what many believed online. Instead, Valve's legal department reached out to Nintendo to inquire about the emulator's upcoming release on the popular PC storefront, which would have allowed users to play games like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports, and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Valve then forwarded a statement from Nintendo's lawyers to the Dolphin team, stating that the emulator could only be released with Nintendo's approval. Nintendo's letter to Valve explicitly requested the removal of Dolphin's "coming soon" notice and ensured that the emulator would not be available on the Steam store going forward.

It seems that Valve chose not to involve themselves further and put the responsibility on Dolphin's developers to obtain Nintendo's permission, even though it was highly unlikely to be granted. Considering Nintendo's history of swift legal action and the language used in their letter, the Dolphin team recognized the inevitable outcome and decided to cancel the Steam release. However, the Dolphin Emulator remains accessible through separate downloads for Windows, macOS, and Linux on the project's website. Nonetheless, having it on Steam would have elevated its credibility and exposed it to a larger audience.

"The store is ultimately controlled by Valve, and they can establish any conditions they desire for software to be featured on it," the Dolphin team stated. "However, considering Nintendo's longstanding position on emulation, we find Valve's requirement for us to obtain Nintendo's approval for a Steam release to be unattainable. Unfortunately, that's the reality."

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