DashGamer Easter Break: March 20, 2023 - April 3, 2024

Wii U & 3DS eShop are gone. What now? – Opinion Piece

Prosperous Pandering Parlays Poor Preservation...

Let me preface this piece by reiterating my stance on Emulation. Legally, it’s a grey area that Nintendo continue to profess as “illegal”, with hopes of fair-use laws within the West being altered after a court case that had been thrown out by judges in the 1999, due to an accessible PlayStation (PSX) emulator that was made available to the public. The case was ruled in favour of the defendant, in-turn placing emulation – despite its platform – within creative common’s fair-use policy. It’s been an ongoing saga for many companies to outlaw the software, implementing an End-User License Agreement into every title on the market, stating that the software they obtain may only be used on the platform it’s designed for. When you press the “Accept” button, you essentially enter a contract with the developer and publisher of said title that you will not run the game on any other platform than the one the software is intended for – e.g.; you accept a EULA for GTA V on PS4 and PC separately, but running the PS4 version on PC is breaking the EULA.

The problem here is, there is no right or wrong answer in terms of how legal or illegal emulation is. This not withstanding certain laws in different countries such as Japan, where it’s even more of a grey area with new laws dictating a modified console is illegal. You can’t simply install third-party homebrew applications while in Japan, you’re effectively breaking the law, but emulation is chalked as a non-issue. Australia does not have a fair-use policy, but does relegate this circumstance under ‘fair dealing’, by way of its ‘literary work’ clause within the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Act.), construing the term ‘copyright’ in the literal sense that it is one’s ‘right’ to ‘copy’ property they own intellectually – also known as distributing. A bylaw under this however mitigates creative control from the IP’s owner by ‘format shifting’, but again is argued by the rights held under its copyright owner; you may only create a backup of a title as long as it’s permitted by the IP’s owner, to which it is not obviously.

So now that we’ve covered some legal ground of Emulation, let’s move that to the side and talk about how Nintendo have effectively forced the hands of many gamers to turn to Emulation, despite its self-proclaimed stance on most open-source software written without copyrighted material, being labelled illegal. The closure of the Wii U & 3DS eShop has unequivocally caused divide within the community with regards to emulation and its moral standing. Upon its impending halt of the online service, YouTuber Jirard “The Completionist” Khalil, was set on preserving every single Wii U and 3DS title available on both eShop’s respectively, before Nintendo had stripped most title’s availability away from owners of each platform – I say most with few exceptions of ports from older platforms, or to newer ones. His collection off each shop consisted of Full Games, Demos, DSi, WiiWare and DLC, with over 2TB’s of capacity storage filled. It took Jirard and his team a 328 Days, 464 eShop Cards with hopes of claiming discounts, but all costed him a whopping $22,791.00USD ($34,253.96AUD).

A ridiculous invoice to preserve video gaming history for public consumption. Here’s the problem, and it stems from cost inflation and scalping of retro titles; the inaccessibility of games on intended platforms due to the aforementioned cost factors are becoming commonplace within the medium, with the misnomer of flippers being collectors which is unfair by moral standard. Yes, the whole “first come, first serve” thing is just how the world works, and there are some things that are out of our control, but Nintendo don’t understand that pulling certain titles off the market forever gives those sellers a chance to exploit gamers that would love to access certain titles, but not have to pay a premium regardless of its quality or age. In Australia, Nintendo games are already priced at an abysmal hike of roughly $89AUD. Most titles never came below $60 on Wii U throughout its lifecycle, and if it was a first-party title on 3DS, $69AUD was as low as it got.

I’m not debating retail cost vs. availability however, what I am debating is the price-tag that consumers will have to pay to access a “Zelda: Wind Waker HD” or “Mario Kart 7”, after eBay scalpers or those that shop-to-flip retro/antiques begin to mould a market behind these rarities, just as its now become expensive to find a single copy of Wind Waker or Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door on GameCube – may as well take out a loan for either purchase. Here’s the kicker, Nintendo pulling its services does them no monetary favours, with purists looking to acquire their games on specific platforms are now without a way to do so without splurging on flagship labels online. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD earlier this year was at $25AUD on eBay, but the title now trends at $125AUD or more – a consequence of the Wii U eShop closure and just one example of skyrocketing Wii U prices that will undoubtedly become a new normal for the poorly performed platform, turning it from paperweight to collector’s item for vanity’s sake.

Bob Wulff and Wood Hawker of the Nontendo Podcast, covered the barriers blocking access to said titles that relegated content creators with no choice but to emulate certain games for footage or other use, as it’s protected by the United States’ fair-use clause. The clause is similar to Australia’s Fair Dealing’s practice under section 236, which states the following;

236. The Copyright Act does not define a ‘fair dealing’. Rather, specific fair dealing exceptions exist for the purposes of:

- research or study;[283]
- criticism or review;[284]
- parody or satire;[285]
- reporting news;[286] and
- a legal practitioner, registered patent attorney or registered trade marks attorney giving professional advice.[287]

Australian Law Reform Commission

While I’m not advocating for gamers to resort to downloading ROMs or ripping them for the sake of accessibility, it’s hard to make an argument as to why little Timmy can’t emulate Paper Mario TTYD on his Steam Deck. I have no moral obligation toward Nintendo, I report the facts and the fact is, Nintendo purposely take popular titles away to swell hype for a re-release or return at some point. It’s a ploy that ultimately saves the company face on future platforms when dealing with its fans. The Nintendo Online subscription is a compromise that takes ownership and right away from the consumer, allowing a seasonal pass to its rich history without any physical attachment. Nintendo are no strangers to ‘misinterpretation’, when in 2006, after promising early Wii adopters that Virtual Console games would come free, they quickly retracted this statement prior to the digital service’s launch just after the Wii itself was commercially available for a limited period.

So this is where we’re at with Nintendo and their continuous colloquy of tedious arguments against emulation. It’s funny how a company that’s so against open-source emulation, uses it to sell commercial products such as the NES and SNES Classic Mini, but release a minimal quantity to drum-up all the hype behind it, only to leave a majority of its fanbase disappointed when struggling to acquire the now collector’s piece. While PlayStation obviously sit aside Nintendo’s sentiments, and I don’t blame them for doing so, they weren’t as stringent in its usage of open-source software, made readily available on the internet to implement in their own PlayStation Classic inspired by Nintendo’s releases – this being the Armed core of PCSX Reloaded, also known as PCSXReArmed. But how as gamers, do we handle an unavailable and unattainable library of games on platforms we hold near and dear to our heart?

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.

More Stories
Top 5 Anime Picks this Season – AnimeLab