Yuzu And Citra Emulators Shut Down After Legal Pressure From Nintendo

In a move that came rather like a surprise to many, the company behind the well-known Switch and 3DS emulators Yuzu and Citra – Tropic Haze LLC – as reported by PC Gamer has shutdown both projects and associated websites as part of a US$2.4M settlement with Nintendo with a last message left on the Yuzu website. This comes in the wake of Nintendo suing Tropic Haze LLC over the Yuzu emulator, claiming that there’s ‘no lawful way to use Yuzu’, as it requires files extracted from a real Switch device to decrypt game files. Although Citra is not part of the lawsuit, it being made by the same developers seems to have resulted in it getting axed along with Yuzu as collateral damage.

What makes this issue so legally hairy is that even though an emulator by itself isn’t illegal, requiring proprietary firmware and keys already gets one into contested territory about the legality of dumping said files from a console, even if you own it. This was already an issue with the first Playstation emulators, which require the Playstation BIOS image to even boot, but left the emulator developers mostly untouchable. What seems to have set off Nintendo’s lawyers here would seem to be the way that the Yuzu developers leaned into the copyright infringement (often incorrectly called ‘piracy’) angle, giving Nintendo’s legal team enough exposed flesh to launch a ballistic legal strike.

What will the fallout of this whole case be? Obviously Yuzu and Citra are gone, if only by name. As open source projects Citra is likely to pop up again under another name, while Yuzu can find itself reincarnated as well, albeit very likely. Despite decades of lawsuits by Nintendo and others, emulators themselves are legal under even the US’ egregious DMCA, and dumping firmware and game ROMs from systems and media which you purchased can be done with impunity, even if it leaves Nintendo et al. fuming at the mouth.

Effectively, what this lawsuit and settlement tells us is that even if emulators are widely used for copyright infringement, the emulator developers should only ever admit to this regretfully, lamenting the depravity of humanity that these unscrupulous individuals would do such a horrid thing, rather than simply buy more games and format shift them for backup and personal emulator usage.

The final message by Tropic Haze LLC founders after shutting down the Yuzu and Citra projects.
The final message by Tropic Haze LLC founders after shutting down the Yuzu and Citra projects.

36 thoughts on “Yuzu And Citra Emulators Shut Down After Legal Pressure From Nintendo

    1. Nintendo has a very toxic approach to the community, they sued hundreds of projects for no good reason, just throwing their weight around if they don’t like it.

      1. I watched a Moonchannel video on why Nintendo are so happy to sue. He explained they’ve got IP more valuable than even Disney but a relatively small employee headcount, plus early in their lifespan they saw how control over big IPs could be lost due to lax policing (I think that was king Kong?). The point is they know they need to protect their IP but can’t afford the time to examine each potential infringement closely, so they spam out DMCAs and hope for the best.

  1. From what I understand, the team developing emulator had a game ROM behind paywall so they were collecting money on copyrighted material. Had the team kept the emulator 100% free and left the ROM to someone else, they might have not been sued.

    1. No, there has been a Patreon for Early Access versions of YUZU for a better support of recently released titles. They made around $ 30k per month with it. They always dissociated from pirated games. If you wanted any kind of support you had to proof them that you own a copy of the original game. Otherwise they didn’t even talk to you.

      1. This is why it’s the pirate’s fault. Everyone pointing fingers at Nintendo when people be stealing their games. They are a business trying to protect their shit.
        “Exactly jay, they should have gone after the pirates”… No, stolen money has no use when it can’t be spent on anything.

  2. This is basically the same reasoning that was used to attack libdvdcss and libaacs.

    They decrypt the the DRM allowing playing back on unauthorized software and hardware.

    To do so you must have a copy of the copyright data on disc.

    At least with the Switch most could extract keys. Very few people extracted their own DVD or Blu-ray keys.

    This kind of legal situation does not set a legal precedent but it does a cultural one.

    1. The problem is partly that sharing the tools/info to do the circumvention may not be defensible under the DMCA and similar legal frameworks.

      You are generally permitted to circumvent for personal, archival, and fair use; but competing as Yuzu was with Nintendo in the same market may not pass the test, particularly as their competing product made no effort to ensure legitimate use, thus facilitating blatant copyright infringement.

    2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of libdvdcss that it does NOT have copies of keys contained within it, but rather bruteforces them every time a disc is inserted? In this case it “extracts”, or otherwise worksaround, the key every single time it is used?

  3. There is an obvious difference between emulating a device which is no longer supported, for which game sales are (near) zero, and a current gen device where the emulation is used to play games which have not even been released yet…

    1. while the difference might be obvious, it’s not legal. Wanna ban current gen emulation? Then legalize older-gen emulation with unrestricted access to the proprietary parts

      I strongly believe that as soon as a device gets to the end of life all of its binaries should become available, firmware, games, server-side code AND any documentation around them. I’d say their source too but I’m already asking for way more than capitalism is able to support (assuming it can support anything at all)

    2. I really don’t see a difference just because of which system this is the emulator for – emulation just creates another platform to play the games, doesn’t in its own right make any difference to the age of the platform. And as piracy always has and always will exist to some extent.. The more obnoxious to the legitimate users and expensive the games/consoles get while providing a worse service…

      Even more so when Nintendo have for a very long time now put out very very low performance hardware that can barely run their own games – I’d want to emulate so the game can actually be enjoyed, rather than an awful blurry low frame rate mess, the last game I played on a Switch was really basically unplayable, but just about good enough its possible to actually eventually get to the end of the game…

    3. “There is an obvious difference between emulating a device which is no longer supported, for which game sales are (near) zero, and a current gen device”

      You want them to figure out emulating things in the brief gap between when a device is discontinued and things are shutdown? For the 3DS, that was a grand total of ~4 years. Thanks to the fact that all of our consoles are online now, you have to figure stuff out while the online servers are still running.

      The toxic portion of Nintendo’s statements on this are that they claim they’ll preserve the ability of “popular favorites” – the *entire point* of the limited life of copyright is to allow the author to profit while still allowing society to eventually gain from the creation of these works. Since copyright lifetime is *so far* from both support and physical hardware lifetime at this point, they’re getting all the profit benefit with no cultural addition.

      I mean, we already know games fall into abandonware at this point, and Nintendo has an entire console that they’ve discontinued that we *know* will fall apart (thanks to the WiiU’s self-destructing WiFi chip).

      Ethically I have zero sympathy for Nintendo on this. Yes, they still have decades of copyright remaining on this stuff, but unlike recorded and written works, none of this crap will still be working by that point, and they are doing *nothing* to ensure that things they create will last that long.

  4. I bought Zelda TOTK with the express intent to format shift it and play it on my Steam Deck through yuzu.
    Nintendo consider this piracy.
    Next time I’ll skip the step where I buy the game if it’s all the same to Nintendo.

  5. Unfortunately in this case Yuzu was “asking for it” by paywalling patches for specific games on their Patreon and having a very “wink-wink” attitude towards where to NOT get roms and decryption keys on their official discord and on Reddit.

    If you’re even tangentially profiting off of Nintendo’s IP at this point, I don’t know what to say.

  6. kudos to Maya Posch for adding excitement to reports of copyright infringement!

    “…leaned into the copyright infringement (often incorrectly called ‘piracy’) angle, giving Nintendo’s legal team enough exposed flesh to launch a ballistic legal strike”

    1. This is an excellent reminder to always proofread what you plan to post before posting it.
      I kike Maya should’ve been I like Maya

      but she allowed it to go through anyway!!

  7. That statement is so Japanese: we had good intentions, but we see now that we were wrong, we never intended what they said we did, we choose now to do everything they want.

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