Yuzu, along with its friendly rival Ryujinx, has stood at the forefront of current-gen emulation for six years – almost as long as the Switch itself. It’s brought an accessible way for PC and, recently, Android gamers to play their favorite Switch titles in the way they want to – 4K resolution, HD textures, better performance, and more.

But it would seem that Nintendo’s had enough.

On February 26, 2024, Nintendo of America Inc. filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Tropic Haze LLC, the devs of Yuzu and 3DS emulator Citra, in the District Court of Rhode Island. Their claim: Yuzu facilitates the circumvention of software encryption and enables piracy.

Nintendo cites the Quickstart Guide on Yuzu’s website – specifically the section on dumping decryption keys from a hacked Switch – as proof that Yuzu encourages what Nintendo claims is unlawful modification and circumvention of DRM software.

Readers may recall the DMCA takedown issued to Lockpick 9 months ago; if you don’t, Lockpick was a homebrew software that would allow modders to dump system keys from their hacked Switch. This is the only legitimate way to obtain the keys required for decrypting and reading Switch games and software. Nintendo, of course, only saw it as illegal piracy software.

The claim being made here is a bit different – Yuzu doesn’t provide any tools to extract the keys itself, nor does it come bundled with keys like Dolphin made the mistake of doing. Instead, Nintendo claims that by directing people to this third-party software, Yuzu is encouraging its use and is thus “secondarily liable for the infringement committed”.

Among the claims they submit to back up this argument, the filing states that when Tears of the Kingdom infamously leaked about a week before its official release, over one million copies of the leaked game had been downloaded. How they figure this is anyone’s guess, but Nintendo points to this, alongside the piracy sites explicitly noting Yuzu compatibility, and Yuzu’s explosive Patreon growth during that same period, as evidence that Yuzu’s business model amounts to profiting off of piracy.

The filing also claims that in the same way Yuzu enables piracy, it also enables spoilers. Yes, the filing explicitly calls out the fact that the Tears of the Kingdom leak spread screenshots of the game all over the internet, forcing many people who can’t stand that sort of thing to go dark on social media in the days leading up to the game’s release – and then claims that Yuzu’s devs are partly to blame for this.

What point do they hope to make from this, only Nintendo and their lawyers truly know. If I could hazard a guess, however, I’d say they’re probably going to try and use this argument to claim damage to Nintendo’s brand, in order to up the damages even more.

Every time Nintendo files a lawsuit, it’s not just to seek financial compensation. Every defendant in a Nintendo case is being made an example of. Whether it’s a guy hosting a ROM site out of his garage, the fall guy for an international software pirate syndicate, or a volunteer dev team making Nintendo’s games run better on more hardware than the company ever could themselves – it’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message.

The dev working on the Android 10 backport of Yuzu seems to have called it quits, for now.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the proceedings work out. In the meantime, we’d advise keeping backups of any versions of Yuzu you can still get your hands on.

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