Last month, Nintendo filed suit against LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.com. Both websites are owned by Jacob Mathias and provide ROM’s for many of Nintendo’s most iconic games. The suit was filed on 19th of July in an Arizona Federal Court. The suit stated that both of these sites are:
“built almost entirely on the brazen and mass-scale infringement of Nintendo’s intellectual property rights. In addition to Nintendo’s video games, Defendants reproduce, distribute, and publicly perform a vast library of Nintendo’s other copyrighted works on and through the LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites, including the proprietary BIOS software for several of Nintendo’s video game systems and thousands of Nintendo’s copyrighted musical works and audio recordings. Defendants also make extensive use of Nintendo’s registered trademarks, including the Nintendo logo and the most recognizable Nintendo video game characters, to encourage visitors to download and play unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s copyrighted works.”
Both ROM sites made no concrete effort to conceal or hide any form of copyright from users who downloaded these games. Nintendo’s intellectual property, images, etc. are used in the hopes that potential gamer knows they are getting the “official” game. Nintendo itself has stated that LoveROMS:
“receives 17 million visitors each month” and that “Such visitors are drawn to the website by the widespread availability of free, unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games and other highly valuable intellectual property.”
A week after the filing of the suit, LoveRoms has taken down its website and offered only one update on their Facebook fan page.
LoveRoms and LoveRETRO aren’t the only ROM sites that give free relatively unfettered access to Nintendo’s historic library of games. No word on if Nintendo seeks to continue similar lawsuits against other websites like EMUParadise or ROMSMania.
P.S.: Nintendo, My Lost Love From Childhood
The Nintendo Entertainment System; my first video game console. Faint memories flood my mind where I play all those games in my brothers’ room. Super Mario Brothers 1,2, and 3 were my first experiences with video games. One of the memories I have involved the unique abilities each character in SMB 2 (Super Mario Brothers 2) had. Princess Toadstool floated in the air. Luigi long jumps across the level, and Toad quickly picked up items faster than the others.
Years later, I would have a Super Nintendo. I’d fall in love with iconic games like Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger (which now has a PC port on Steam). Nintendo kept creating memorable games with the advent of the Nintendo 64 and its launch game Super Mario 64. Others include Perfect Dark, Goldeneye 007, Super Mario Kart 64, Star Fox 64, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Super Smash Brothers, Majora’s Mask, etc. None of Nintendo’s consoles and games disappointed me. Because of that, I would stay with Nintendo all the way up to the release of the Gamecube.
The purple cube-shaped Gamecube was the first Nintendo system to have disc-based games instead of cartridges. Nintendo finally got with the times in that department. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Super Mario Sunshine, Metroid Prime, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Every console and game via Nintendo’s brilliance helped me forge memories during my youth. This feeling reverberates throughout millions of players today. Little did I know that the gaming industry was about to get a whole lot bigger than what Nintendo had to offer (at least for me).
Embrace The 21st Century, Nintendo
Bittersweetly, as soon as high school approached, the original Xbox was released along with Halo: Combat Evolved. I was never into first-person shooters, but my love for science fiction was blossoming at that time. In addition, my high school friends kept on inviting me to LAN parties. Two of those massive original Xboxes, 8 “Duke” controllers and lots of junk food made weekends quite memorable. The Halo series forged itself into my heart. Xbox and the games that came with it (ex: Knights of the Old Republic, Bioshock, Assassins Creed, Mass Effect, etc.) kept my attention throughout high school and into college.
Unfortunately, that made Nintendo go on the back-burner for a long while. Sure, I bought the Wii and played awesome games like Super Mario Galaxy 1+2, Mario Kart Wii, and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. The Wii became a dust collector because the archaic graphics and the Wiimote was an abomination to me. Mario and Link were still silent protagonists, and I’ve been playing Mario Kart since its NES days. The Wii made gimmicky attempts to stand out from the rest and it didn’t work for me. The kid in me was screaming for what was once good back in the day. The Xbox stole my heart with better graphics, stories, voice acting, etc.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Take It Away…
The Wii U brought about The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Super Mario 3D World, and Mario Kart 8. The graphics certainly improved and I was glad Nintendo did away with the Wiimote. Sure, the gamepad was huge, but I had a second screen. The gamepad displayed my inventory, options, and maps were available at my fingertips. I completed both Wind Waker and 3D World in a fair amount of time. I didn’t give Skyward a chance due to its watercolor art style and Wiimote dependent gameplay mechanics.
With the recent advent of the Nintendo Switch, the company took away popular application. The Wii and Wii U had the Virtual Console. It was an application where gamers could buy all the retro games from NES to N64 days. Why do away with such a great thing?
As of May of this year, Nintendo stated to Kotaku that they don’t plan on creating a Virtual Console for the Switch. As of now:
“There are a variety of ways in which classic games from Nintendo and other publishers are made available on Nintendo Switch, such as through Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online, Nintendo eShop or as packaged collections,” the Nintendo spokesperson said. “Nintendo Entertainment System – Nintendo Switch Online will provide a fun new way to experience classic NES games that will be different from the Virtual Console service, thanks to enhancements such as added online play, voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online app and the various play modes of Nintendo Switch.”
All Good Things…
So there’s no Virtual Console for the Switch. So, much like Toad, we must listen to what Nintendo says and look for our childhood games again. Maybe they’ll be within the labyrinth of the Switch’s online capabilities in the months and years to come. But do we honestly have to buy them again? For now, this is why I kept my Wii U and haven’t bought a Switch. Why take away something that was successful.
The only console(s) to do something similar and rather successfully is the Xbox One and its backward compatibility capabilities. Gamers who kept their old copies of original Xbox or 360 games could play them on Xbox One, or they can buy them on Xbox Live or Game Pass. In addition, older games from the original Xbox days receive graphical overhauls. As for PlayStation 4, players can stream older PlayStation games with 720p capability via PSNow.
Earlier this Summer, Sony PlayStation is winning the console wars, with Microsoft’s Xbox making a decent 2nd place with sales. As of last month, Nintendo’s earnings for the most recent quarter consisted of a mixed bag. According to Kotaku: “operating profits were up, but Switch sales and attach rates were down.” This, according to the article, has convinced a Wall Street hedge fund manager to bet millions against Nintendo and its future. During E3 this year, Nintendo’s stock dropped 16%. Kotaku ponders why a hedge fund manager would make such a bold move, and came to some rather interesting conclusions:
Kotaku’s Theories On Nintendo’s Future
- “Plotkin is dismayed by the news that Nintendo won’t be trying to rehash its back catalog via the virtual console on yet another of its devices, and he sees softer digital sales on the horizon if fans can’t buy Super Mario Bros. 3 for $5 one more time.
- He’s pissed that Mario Tennis Aces’ story mode was so half-assed and sees it as a sign Nintendo is already taking its fans for granted again.
- Despite the company adding loot boxes to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Plotkin doesn’t think Nintendo’s been aggressive enough with its monetization efforts on mobile after Super Mario Run’s lackluster performance.
- Yoshi was MIA at E3, and we didn’t hear a peep about Metroid Prime 4 either. An overall lackluster line-up going into the end of the year means the average sale of .9 games per Switch owner for this past quarter (compared to 1.7 a year ago) could drop even further.
- Having watched his niece struggle to put together Nintendo Labo cardboard in any configuration even vaguely resembling a house, Plotkin had a premonition that sales of the kits would drop off fast, stagnating at around 1.39 million three months after release.
- Plotkin is incredibly skeptical that the company that brought us friend codes won’t somehow fuck up the new online subscription service launching in Q3.
- Summer’s halfway over and Nintendo still hasn’t announced an N64 Classic.
- Plotkin heard that this year’s Pokemon games, Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu, were spin-offs and not “core” games in the series, and he doesn’t think giving Pikachu a bowl cut will be enough to make up the difference in sales potential.
- The hedge fund manager thinks Nintendo is overhyped right now and that double-digit stock growth quarter after quarter (from $15 to $50 in just two years) has left the company overvalued and ripe for a bubble-bursting reality check. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey only get to come out once, after all.
- Yes, Ridley’s in Smash now. But no Waluigi? Huge mistake. You get what you get for that one, Nintendo.”
“Always In Motion Is The Future”
My take on Kotaku’s list:
There seems to be a consensus with not bringing back the Virtual Console. Releasing NES/N64 “Classic” systems instead is somewhat pathetic. Why gamers think there should a be a solid “story” behind a tennis game is beyond me. Nobody that I know who’s an ardent Nintendo fan is playing any Nintendo based mobile game. Metroid would have been welcomed with cheers at E3. As for Yoshi, I was never a fan of the dinosaur, but millions of others are, and I am sure people would’ve loved to see him/her. Creating a cardboard electronic piano will never be on my “fun things to do” list. Nintendo needs to fully embrace a system similar to what Microsoft and Sony do with bringing millions into the multiplayer realm. As for Pokemon, Pokemon Go seems to be the most popular thing, but its not it’s producer, it’s Niantic.
Lastly; but certainly not least, I completely agree with Nintendo being “overhyped”. It performs fantastically out of the gate with its usual contenders of Mario and Link/Zelda, maintaining that growth for a bit, and then eventually plateauing at some point. It happened with the Wii, the Wii U, and the Switch may suffer the same fate. Currently, the Switch is benefitting from games like Octopath Traveler. But is Nintendo going to be content with possibly conquering the JRPG landscape in 2018? If it’s going to survive, it will need to do more than be a “beast” in one genre. Nintendo needs to start playing with the big boys and girls that is Xbox and PlayStation all while keeping its unique place in our hearts.