The Steam launch of Dolphin, an open-source emulator for the Wii and GameCube, has been delayed indefinitely (via PC Gamer). A post on the developers’ blog says that’s due to a Nintendo “cease and desist citing the DMCA” (a previous version of the blog post just said “issued a DMCA” but it was updated) after they did announced plans for the Steam launch in March.
It is with great disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed. Valve has notified us that Nintendo has issued a cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin’s Steam page, and has removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is resolved. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future.
We appreciate your patience in the meantime.
Pierre Bourdon, who says he has been involved with Dolphin for more than 10 years in various capacities and was named in the email from Valve, writes in a series of Mastodon posts that the notice was the result of a back-and-forth with Nintendo initiated by Steam and did not involve a DMCA notice, calling the action “just standard legal takedowns / C&D between the two companies.”
One element that Nintendo may be using to justify its request to block Dolphin lies in its distribution of Wii AES-128 disc encryption, according to Bourdon. Instead of asking users to provide the key themselves, the software has shipped the Wii’s “common key” embedded in its source code for years.
Bourdon wrote in Mastodon that, unlike a direct DMCA takedown, in this case, Dolphin’s creators have no legal recourse to push back. That leaves the group at the whims of Valve, who he says could have ignored Nintendo at this stage without any repercussions.
We’ve reached out to Valve, Nintendo, and The Dolphin Emulator Project for further comment.
Even another emulator, RetroArch, exists on the Steam platform, although that software doesn’t work the same way Dolphin does. Where Dolphin directly emulates GameCube and Wii consoles, RetroArch serves as a frontend where emulator “cores” can be loaded, giving users a centralized place to configure software settings for in their emulators.