I’m very late to post here about the latest discussion over emulation and the distribution of video game ROMs. If you haven’t heard, a little while ago Nintendo sued a couple well-known distributors of pirated classic games — LoveROMs and LoveRetro, both of which are gone now. Soon after that another big one — EmuParadise, decided to shut itself down after 18 years, out of fear of the same fate. Downloading ROMs from places like that pretty much is piracy, and Nintendo is absolutely within its legal right to do what it’s doing, but you may have seen a lot of people recently either defending the ROM sites or criticizing Nintendo’s approach to fighting piracy.
Let me say this: The shutdown of those ROMs sites is such a big deal because the console video game industry is uniquely bad at preserving its history. I say “uniquely” because gaming console manufacturers ignore their history in a way no other entertainment medium or software industry does. Literature, film, music, even PC gaming and mobile gaming, all do a better job than console gaming at keeping legacy works easily available on modern hardware and services. Continue reading