The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo Combat Piracy

Nintendo and Piracy: Big N Closes in on Emulators

Avatar of Eduardo Rebouças
Days before the long-awaited sequel arrives, Nintendo takes on piracy with lawsuits targeting tools that enable Switch emulation and the use of illegal copies of its games

A few days after the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Nintendo, aiming to prevent impatient gamers around the world from playing the company's biggest release of the year on emulators from Switch thanks to piracy, it has taken more serious action against so-called pirates and emulators.

The legend of zelda: tears of the kingdom, nintendo and piracy
The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, scheduled for release next Friday, is the newest target of pirates on duty. (Image: Disclosure)

How did this whole thing start?

Last week, game files - by far the most anticipated by fans of the franchise The Legend of Zelda and owners of Switch around the world – began to pop up on the Internet, through physical copies that ended up being sold in advance by stores that broke the embargo date for the sale of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.

With that, the highly anticipated game, scheduled for release next Friday, May 12th, ended up falling into the hands of players, who, through game emulators, Nintendo Switch, began their journeys in the skies of Hyrule way ahead of time, some even broadcasting the feat live on Twitch. And worse, illegally, since they did it through files distributed illegally, obviously without the approval of the Japanese giant.

The leak generated a lot of buzz on blogs specializing in technology and in the gaming community, not only due to early access by emulator users, but also due to the fact that The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom apparently runs much better that way than it does on its own. hardware do Switch, which the game was designed to be used for.

Amidst the pre-launch coverage that was painted on the network weeks ago, the impression was that the newest title in the series starring the laconic hero Link – at least as far as it was possible to see in the videos of the version made available to journalists invited to participate in the event of tests carried out last month in New York – apparently suffers from falls framerate during more chaotic moments of gameplay.

Remembering that the laptop recently entered its sixth year of existence, and that even in 2017, when it was launched, it no longer had the most powerful components, using a modified version of the chipset of Tegra Maxwell CPU, very popularly used in tablets e smartphones. The predecessor of Tears of the Kingdom, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, launch game Switch, despite the high level of art direction, with beautiful graphics, already showed the limitations of the then new Big N device. 

Over the years since then, even with miraculous ports of massive developer titles cookies, that is, outside the Nintendo corporate umbrella and who also work on games for other competing consoles, such as DOOM e DOOM Eternal (Bethesda), And The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt (CD Projekt Red), the difference in power of the Switch, given how far below their graphics ended up being on the device, even keeping the gameplay intact compared to other consoles and, of course, the PC.

The snowball grows…    

It didn't take long for the House of Mushrooms to act and try to prevent their monumental game from being enjoyed in advance and in a way that was at least dubiously ethical. The fame of the Kyoto titan's aggressiveness is well known when it comes to the misuse of her intellectual properties, but she does not always end up directing her fury at the person who is actually responsible for the headache generated. 

But this time, she ended up getting it right. Simon Aarons, renowned hacker responsible for numerous breaches of copy-locking technology designed by Nintendo over the course of more than twenty years of career and maintainer of a repository called lockpick for various hacking tools, was indirectly the target of a company lawsuit. 

Citing section 1201 of the DMCA, she filed a lawsuit demanding the immediate removal of lockpick, Lockpick_RCM and eighty other tools used to break the protection lock of software and portal games Github, one of the largest hosting of source code and files related to programming. Inevitably, it turns and moves, it falls into the center of “scandals” like this one from the new Zelda, after all, much of what is posted on the site is of a gray nature in terms of potential use, clashing with legal protocols such as the DMCA.

The action directly quotes the tool lockpick as an example of illicit use, being used to bypass the protection designed in the hardware of the Switch, which, before the hack, serves for the console to run only “legitimate Nintendo video game files”, allowing users to use the encryption of their devices to run “pirated versions of copy-protected games” from the company from terra do sol source.

the repository Github has a policy of maintaining hack programming tools, even if they are involved in lawsuits like those filed by Nintendo against the program created by Aarons and that its creators are still appealing against them. 

But the lawsuit filed regarding the use ahead of time and the leakage of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ended up reverberating anyway, exerting influence on indie developers like the group behind skyline, an emulator of Switch for Android, which, as a result of the case, withdrew from continuing with the project over the weekend, afraid of being in the crosshairs of the lawyers for the home of Super Mario. This was due to the fact that its program can be used to run digital copies of games obtained illegally over the Internet, a very common hook in cases like this. 

As much as most developers insist that their emulators are made available without the intention of running commercially available games, the very fact that they exist inevitably puts them in the crosshairs of Nintendo and the other giants in the business. Other console emulator developers for cell phones said they will remain active, and even with the withdrawal of the group that created it, the skyline it is an open source program and nothing prevents the possibility that others will take over its development going forward.

The legend of zelda: tears of the kingdom, nintendo x piracy
The DMCA has been a nightmare for many content creators as well (Image: Electronic Fontrier Foundation)

Understanding what the DMCA is and why it breeds so much bullshit

Approved in 1998 by the US government, the DMCA is the infamous and unpopular Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or Millennium Data Protection Act, in rough translation into Portuguese), designed to prevent counter-programming and breach of data protection measures and intellectual property for purposes of distribution outside the system.

It is the main cause behind many cases of creative content removal by all types and sizes in the media, mainly the Internet, YouTube, Twitch, etc. The main reason it is so despised by content creators or simply amateur enthusiasts is that the DMCA is often used as an excuse by non-owners of the product in question in order to harm users who are using the work in question for purposes without financial gain.

The DMCA controversy has no end date, after all, the accreditation by source of works generated from commercial products is not an issue that was born with the emergence of the Internet. It's something that has always existed and will exist as long as there are artists and fans who want to display their passion for a commercial and/or creative product through their creations influenced by or based on them.

And, of course, there is the issue of illegality when it comes to digital products and their distribution outside the field where it generates capital for the company that owns it, which, seen by companies such as video games, is not something desirable at all. . The leak and the consequent use of copies obtained in a dubious way will always be a rag to the sleeve for the heated discussion, in short, no matter how much they want the opposite, it is practically impossible to prevent that protections, regardless of how elaborate they become, end up being circumvented one way or another.

The legend of zelda: tears of the kingdom, nintendo x piracy
Even today it is possible to find the famous pirated “tapes” with several games in the piracy market. (Image: Shopee)

The Eternal Struggle Between Nintendo and Piracy

It is worth remembering that piracy has always been a tremendous headache for Nintendo. The Japanese company founded in the XNUMXth century, which had its beginnings as a manufacturer of playing cards for the traditional game hanafuda and entered the toy business and eventually became one of the biggest names in the video game industry, it faces the “alternative market” of its products, however much it tries to develop ways to prevent unauthorized copies of them from being produced.

In the era of the Famicom, known as the 8-bit NES outside of Japan, the beloved “Nintendinho”, piracy was rampant. Many of those who lived at that time must remember the many “tapes” that circulated throughout Brazil, coming from China through Paraguay, which promised 99 games in memory, for example. With the consoles that succeeded Nintendinho, things weren't much different, however much the Japanese manufacturer tried to avoid them.

With the late arrival in disc formats, the situation for her didn't get any easier; on the contrary, it got even worse, because that was where piracy had been going on forever, due to the low cost of recording media. Even with a unique small-size disc format with the GameCube, it couldn't escape the fray and its games continued to be copied and made available to anyone who downloaded and burned them, even in their own homes.

When he finally returned to focusing solely on cartridges with the Switch, whose technology, which in the decades since the 8-bit generation has undergone significant improvement to the point where there are far fewer Jack Sparrow-branded “ribbons” around, the damage had already been done. The spread of the Internet and the growth of hacker groups made life for Big-N's programmers and developers a constant hell, a veritable ice that never runs dry.


Let's face it: the leak episode of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom it is not the first and will not be the last fight that Nintendo will pick with groups of hackers and leakers. As long as there is a division between players who refuse to pay the asking price for it – and we are not going to discuss whether it is fair or not, that is a conversation for another day – and who, regardless of their reasons, end up resorting to the gray market, and those who don't, this issue will always be fresh for discussion and as a result, a lot of confusion. 

As things stand, not all Smash Bros. together they would be able to put an end to it, even worse the jurists, the lawyers or the Big N executives, however much they want the opposite…

Float gracefully to Showmetech and discover even more content about Zelda and other games:

What to expect from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Source: Ars Technica

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