Nintendo's ridiculous war on ROMs threatens gaming history

As a fan, as a history enthusiast, and as a professional, Nintendo’s actions feel ugly. It's a needless attack on the industry's history, launched by the company that benefits most from people remembering. What a pointless victory.

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Skull52192d ago (Edited 92d ago )

Let's be honest here, ROMs are at very least unethical and a blatant copyright infringement. I see nothing wrong here. Anyone messing with this stuff should have the attitude that it was fun while it lasted, they aren't on any kind of moral high ground here, they were always in the wrong.

If you wanna worry about erasing history you should look to rising antisemitism in Europe and the removal of confederate artifacts in the south.

DarkZane92d ago

@ Skull521 "Anyone messing with this stuff should have the attitude that it was fun while it lasted"

It's not like ROMs are going away any time soon or ever really. You can still find any ROMs you want just by using google. Nintendo won't be able to shut down every single sites on the Internet that provide ROMs. That's especially true for sites hosted in countries were Nintendo really have no legal options.

letsa_go91d ago

Just goes to show how anti-consumer Nintendo really is!

Gh05t92d ago

"It’s hard to care about Nintendo’s bottom line when the stakes are the entire industry's historical record though—which brings us to the heart of the issue, game preservation."

Lets be clear here, These games are already "preserved" There are a lot of game preservation people out there that have all these games and not just ROMS but actual cart dumps. So rest easy knowing that you created an article disguised as caring about preservation because these are preserved.

rainslacker91d ago

I agree. There isn't a threat of the data and products themselves from becoming lost to history forever. All that's threatened is people's easy ability to get them and play them.

Granted, if one is technically inclined enough to get an emulator in the first place, or install one on a closed device like a console or phone, then they're probably still capable enough to get the ROMs from any number of still available sources which Nintendo would have a lot of trouble going after on a grand scale.

Gh05t91d ago

This is another non issue that people are getting outraged about because people like being mad. They had over a decade to download these roms all day long but only now are mad that they are being taken down.

"You dont know what you got, until its gone."

Again I ask who in their right mind who WANTED roms (before the beginning of the month), doesnt already HAVE them?

Zeref91d ago

I need to go to that one guy to play the first Zelda?

No, the point is it should be accessible to anyone.

Gh05t91d ago

Why? Because people WANT it? I mean I want them available too but I didn't make them, I don't own the rights to it. What justification other than personal feelings and entitlement do you have for that view?

Zeref91d ago (Edited 91d ago )

Let me rephrase that. It should be available to anyone who owns that.

Which is why I think that BC should be a standard on all consoles. To avoid situations like this.

Gh05t91d ago

Im confused, if you already own it then what do you need the ROM for? Not to mention ROM sites has been around for a long time, Like 15+ years long so anyone who was "concerned" about having a backup of the game they legally owned had 15+ years to get it done. It is strange to me that everyone only complains when its gone. It is like wanting insurance AFTER your house burns down and being mad that the company wont insure you. Realistically how many people are going out and buying a used copy of the game just so they can go online and download a ROM?

Lets also bring up the point that even today if you own the game you can buy the equipment to do a cart dump.

Basically your points are still bad and people just want to steal games for free. Which they could have done for over a decade and I dont know why NOW that the sites are going down this is an issue. Who doesnt have all the ROMS they ever wanted already downloaded??? Again you had over a decade to get them. People complaining are just complaining without substance.

rainslacker90d ago

If you own it, then you could always just get a device to dump your own ROMS. They don't cost much. I don't think the device is legal itself....I dunno, that's kind of a gray area....but at least in the US, it is actually only legal to make your own backups of whatever media you own. Downloading the ROM for back up purposes isn't actually legal, even if you own the software....however, I think you wouldn't really be found guilty on the off chance an IP holder went after you in that case.

TekoIie91d ago

"Having the legal right doesn’t necessarily make it morally right though."

This article is so stupid.

Nintendo doesn't have the right to take down emulators but they absolutely have the right to take down what is basically people redistributing their software. If you disagree then can I suggest that we no longer link to the original stories but to archived versions of them instead? It's cool, right? Im just linking to the historically preserved version of your article.

rainslacker90d ago

I guess the morality of pirating software isn't a consideration to the author. People do realize that downloading ROMS is piracy right? Even if you own the game, downloading ROMs isn't the proper way to back them up. Even if you own the game, playing it on unlicensed hardware....PC, some portable, some phone, also considered piracy.

I've found when it comes to piracy, people make up their own morality to justify their reasons for breaking the law.

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blawren492d ago

Game developers/publishers still have copies of the games. The preservation argument is moot. They won't disappear. It is not up to us, nor is it our right to "preserve" them in any way we see fit. If nintendo or any game publisher wants to protect the distribution of their own games/ips. What would be the incentive for Nintendo to have all of their old games for sale on a virtual console, if they are allowed to be easily accessed for free online. Kind of a catch 22, isn't it. allow everything free, good luck selling them. don't sell them, people look for free versions, blaming nintendo for it. Maybe Nintendo has a long term plan for future release of these old games, not hurt their future games or indie game success, you know as a business to make money and don't want unchecked online "preservation" to undermine those plans. I fully support them..bring on the disagrees.

uth1192d ago

many of these companies have long gone out of business and nobody is actively preserving the code.

if you want a game from any of these companies, who would you contact? Epyx, Psygnosis, Datasoft, SSI, Imagic.

Even for the companies that are still around, like EA, good luck getting early classics like Archon, Seven Cities of Gold or MULE from them, they are too low volume, they can't be bothered.

worse these old games are often copy protected so you can't just make copies, and 30 year old disks degrade

so yes preservation is a real concern. if not for efforts of the community, many would have disappeared

rainslacker91d ago

And if they are owned by anyone, and they choose not to release it, then that doesn't mean you have the right to steal it.

Or are you willing to let this go if they just let those games that are no longer owned by any company so no one to follow copyright enforcement. Somehow I doubt it, because I guess it should be on Nintendo to wade through thousands of games to figure out which ones are OK to keep up, instead of doing the much more efficient thing by just removing all infringing material.

CrimsonWing6992d ago

Tell that to SEGA, there's a reason we don't see Panzer Dragoon Saga... look it up

FinalFantasyFanatic91d ago


What about companies that have lost code? Don't say it doesn't happen because it has, that's why some games don't get remasters or ports because they have to remake the entire game, for some companies it just isn't worth it.

Nintendo should just offer the games at a reasonable price on something like VC or include a flat fee service where you can play as many old games as you like as pay the subscription each month. It would solve alot of headaches.

rainslacker91d ago

That's source code. That's much different than the data we get on the ROMS. While games can be reversed engineered, its a lot of work.

shaggy230391d ago


That wouldn't be as easy as you think.

Yes they could do That for all Nintendo published games. But what about third party games?

rainslacker91d ago

Not all of them exist at the publisher. Some of those publishers or devs no longer exist. But as it is now, there are plenty of archival projects that aren't distributing the software which are supported by many publishers and devs.

Archival and distribution aren't the same thing. It seems a lot of people are referring to archival, and preserving gaming history as only a thing if it means they have access to it. And that's just more because they want to justify the copyright infringement and piracy on their part.

I do support emulation though. I just get tired of people acting like they're some sort of Knight of History Preservation in their reasoning for being upset at nintendo's perfectly legal right to protect their intellectual property.

BigTrain91d ago

Yes, Nintendo has every right to protect their IP's, in the same breath they are some greedy SOB's.

BigTrain91d ago (Edited 91d ago )

On a legal scale what you're saying is solid, but looking at this topic from the perspective of an older gamer who has been there since the beginning of Nintendo when they were just a 3rd party developer I feel differently. My feelings do not fall in line with your base argument of legalities so there is no need to even argue about that. Im a first hand witness to the fact that games go away never to return and the primary thing that has kept them alive is the emulation scene. The emulation scene serves a small percentage of mostly technically sound individuals and is not only a hobby but a passion to keep alive games that would have otherwise disappeared. If it wasn't for voluntary passionate individuals who had a love for certain games enough to work at finding the roms, dumping the roms, optimizing the emualtor itself etc. then 1000's of games would not exist today. Emualtion will never go away, so at the end of the day Nintendo is putting a band aid on a gunshot wound but there is so much more to this topic than people wanting games for free. Especially 30+ year old games that have been sold a million times over that most people can legally own a backup of or games that fans have requested re-releases of but the request is never granted for whatever reason. I personally don't see a problem with people feeling entitled to getting their hands on IP's that have been generously exploited for 3 decades. Where is the line drawn on copyright infringement? When it comes to music the copyright dies after 50 years. That's a long time but I can respect that. Something similar needs to happen in gaming and Nintendo's behavior in my opinion proves it.

blawren490d ago

A prime example is the Switch online service. They clearly want to include classic games as part of the service and add features, with additional games to come in the future. This means they have plans for future games For that plan to flourish, they MUST control the proper distribution of these IPs. No business should accept that.

I get what you are saying about how long is long enough for a copyright to expire, and there should be a limit, but only for IPs that aren't continuing to have releases. Nintendo keeps renewing IPs with new games/activity. When does the clock start/stop for these.

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Tankbusta4092d ago (Edited 92d ago )

Nintendo is only doing this to push "classic" console re releases and virtual console on the Switch. Nintendo like everyone else is all about almighty dollar. It makes the company look extremely petty as people who downloaded ROMs are clearly not the people who are going to purchase 30 year old games legally from Nintendo.

Its funny that these ROMs have been out there for around 15 years and Nintendo never cared....

uth1192d ago

i think in many cases the people into roms would buy an NES flashback because it's nostalgic. After this move, those people are more likely to say FU Nintendo than buy one

BigTrain91d ago

What you're saying certainly applies to me. I've funded them since I was a kid. They're a petty greedy corporation and I've been officially turned off since the dumping of the WiiU only to release the same damn system in a new format and re-release ports of the WiiU's games.

Benjaminkno91d ago

How many times do I have to pay Nintendo before I can play the games I want on the next console? I payed a lot of money for Wii games that I can only play on my Wii/WiiU? Until they crap out?

I’ve spent hundreds of dollars on games I’ve already bought and owned for years.

If Nintendo really were that anal about piracy, the classics wouldn’t be so easy to mod.

Gh05t91d ago

So because they aren't losing out on a sale, they should let people steal it?


You didn't pay for a license to play it on the next console so the answer would be (n + 1).

EmperorDalek91d ago (Edited 91d ago )

Yes... that's exactly what we're saying. If the publisher is out of business, then they can't make it available. Or if a current publisher doesn't think it's worth releasing it for sale on current systems, then they obviously don't care if people play it or not.
They leave people only one way to play them, which again, shouldn't bother them because they don't even think it's worth selling anymore. They think of these games as trash... then turn around and get pissed off when people actually want to play them?

Stealing someones trash... isn't normally considered stealing.

blawren490d ago


If a publisher just folded and their IPs died without being transferred to someone else, you have a point. I don't see them getting pissed off when people actually want to play them. That's not at issue here. At issue here is active companies with legal IPs wanting to protect their distribution. No one says you can't play them, but uncontrolled distribution is kind of a problem that no publisher should be OK with. So far, Nintendo has taken issue. Others could have already or may follow.

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