Dolphin Emulator Steam Release ‘Blocked’ by Nintendo

It was too good to be true, but here we are now.

It was recently revealed that Nintendo has “blocked” the Steam release of the popular Dolphin Wii emulator.

Nintendo Sends a Warning Shot to Dolphin Devs

The developers behind the open-source GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin got a legal notice from Nintendo. It warned to not release the emulator on Steam. According to PC Gamer, the legal notice was addressed to Valve’s legal department, but it got sent to the devs behind the emulator for some reason.

“Because the Dolphin emulator violates Nintendo’s intellectual property rights, including but not limited to its rights under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)’s Anti-Circumvention and AntiTrafficking provisions, 17 U.S.C. § 1201, we provide this notice to you of your obligation to remove the offering of the Dolphin emulator from the Steam store,” said the document sent.

Not DMCA but a Warning for Upcoming One

While initially, the developers thought this was a DMCA, it was later clarified that this was some sort of a ‘warning shot’ from Nintendo. It is urging the developers to stop the release. It did not mention what the company might do afterward but it is clear that it might escalate to DMCAs or even worse.

Today, PC Gamer spoke with Attorney Kellen Voyer of Voyer Law, who specializes in intellectual property and technology law. “I would characterize this NOT as a DMCA takedown notice and instead as a warning shot that the software, Dolphin, if released on Steam would (in Nintendo’s view) violate the DMCA.”

“Here, there is no allegation that Valve is currently hosting anything that infringes Nintendo’s copyright or, more broadly, violates the DMCA.  Rather, Nintendo is sending clear notice to Valve that it considers Dolphin to violate the DMCA and should it be released on Steam, Nintendo will likely take further action.  Given that Valve controls what is available on its store, it made the decision not to wade into any dispute between the Dolphin developers and Nintendo and, instead, followed Nintendo’s preemptive request and took down the Steam page.”

The document sent had a missing element, which was copyright infringement, a very important one if you are going to do a DMCA takedown request. Also, Dolphin has not put up the emulator on Steam yet and made it available, so it was not happening.

Devs Put Steam Launch to a Halt

In a blog post, the developers of Dolphin expressed their disappointment that they had to postpone the launch of the Dolphin Emulator on Steam indefinitely after the notification from Nintendo. They are now looking for other options to hopefully make it possible again, but for now, Dolphin is off the Steam platform.

Nintendo has yet to share a public statement to confirm or deny these allegations.