Nintendo Switch portable console, location

Nintendo Kills Yuzu Switch emulator, DraStic is now free [UPDATED]

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

The Yuzu emulator is no long available, but this legal action has wider ramifications beyond Nintendo Switch emulation.

You may have heard that Nintendo has been flexing its legal muscles once again, this time bringing an end to the reign of terror that was the Yuzu emulator.

A free and open-source emulator for Windows, Android, and Linux, Yuzu made it possible to run Nintendo Switch titles on other hardware. It was created by the same team behind the NIntendo 3DS emulator, Citra.

The legal action from Nintendo has left Yuzu’s developers with a huge out of court settlement. In addition to a $2,400,000 bill, Tropic Haze must submit “all circumvention tools used for developing or using Yuzu—such as TegraRcmGUI, Hekate, Atmosphère, Lockpick_RCM, NDDumpTool, nxDumpFuse, and TegraExplorer.”

Nintendo’s case hangs on the accusation that Yuzu relies on encrypted keys that should not be accessible. If this is the case (Yuzu have said otherwise) then this could be determined by a judge to have been allowed in order to facilitate.

The Yuzu Discord channel features this post from the team:

Hello yuz-ers and Citra fans: We write today to inform you that yuzu and yuzu’s support of Citra are being discontinued, effective immediately.

yuzu and its team have always been against piracy. We started the projects in good faith, out of passion for Nintendo and its consoles and games, and were not intending to cause harm. But we see now that because our projects can circumvent Nintendo’s technological protection measures and allow users to play games outside of authorized hardware, they have led to extensive piracy. In particular, we have been deeply disappointed when users have used our software to leak game content prior to its release and ruin the experience for legitimate purchasers and fans.

We have come to the decision that we cannot continue to allow this to occur. Piracy was never our intention, and we believe that piracy of video games and on video game consoles should end. Effective today, we will be pulling our code repositories offline, discontinuing our Patreon accounts and Discord servers, and, soon, shutting down our websites. We hope our actions will be a small step toward ending piracy of all creators’ works.

Thank you for your years of support and for understanding our decision.

Looking at the figures and the alternative scenario of going to court and hoping that a judge rules in favour of Yuzu, $2.4m is more affordable than a drawn-out case against Nintendo.

It’s game over for Yuzu. If another Nintendo Switch emulator ever comes around, it will probably be at a time when Nintendo has completely abandoned the platform – that’s a long way off right now.

Both the Yuzu Switch emulator and Citra Nintendo 3DS emulator projects have been pulled from GitHub.

Is emulation now illegal?

It is difficult to look at this without being concerned for other emulators, particularly those that run Nintendo ROMs.

Emulator

There have been various Nintendo legal cases over the years, almost all of which have ruled in favour of the console giant. Emulation isn’t something that Nintendo is against, of course – it actively emulates its own classic software with the Nintendo Online + Expansion service.

In 2023, the Dolphin emulator for Nintendo GameCube and Switch was pulled from Steam. Following  events this week, EmuDeck has dropped Yuzu and Citra.

Some commentary around this case has looked at whether ROMs can be considered piracy even when you make them yourself. I suspect this might have different implications in different parts of the world, based on local laws.

Get the DS emulator Drastic on for free Android

The fallout from this decision to settle has been interesting. Steam Deck based Switch emulator Ryujinx has closed invitations to its Discord. Plenty of other projects will be taking a good hard look at their options.

One silver lining – albeit inevitably shortlived – is that the DS emulator DraStic is now free on Google Play. How long it will remain available is another matter, so grab it while you can.

New Yuzu clones appear (March 7th)

Following the forced death of Yuzu, various clones of the open source Nintendo Switch emulator have appeared. While the original developers cannot touch the code (an agreement condition of the settlement), others have revived the software, with titles such as:

  • Nuzu
  • Newzu
  • Suyu

Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color emulators pulled (March 8th)

The Pizza Emulators developer has pulled their Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance emulator from the Google Play Store. In a Discord announcement, developer Davide Berra wrote:

Dear friends and supporters,
After seven incredible years of development and adventures with my apps, I have made the difficult decision to remove them permanently from the Play Store.
My family comes first, and for this reason, I have chosen to prioritize my family over the development of my apps.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your incredible support over the years. Your words of encouragement, feedback, and constant support have been a source of inspiration for me and my work.
Thank you again for everything. You have been fantastic.
With gratitude,
Davide

Where and when will the fallout from this all end?

How does Yuzu settlement affect retro gaming?

I have been asked what this has to do with retro gaming. The issue is twofold:

  1. Nintendo should not be able to dictate what platform is emulated
  2. There are ramifications down the line for emulating the Switch when it is considered retro

#2 has its own sub-issue – what does this settlement mean for other emulators? While out-of-course settlements cannot be used to set legal precedents, there is neverthless the creation of a perception with that agreement that can set a cultural mood.

We all need to be very careful.

About the author

Gaming since 1984, retro gaming since 2004. Contributes to Linux Format magazine, TechRadar.com, and other publications.

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