Dolphin’s Wii and GameCube emulator isn’t coming to Steam after all

The Dolphin Emulator, the software that lets you play old Wii and GameCube games, isn’t coming to Steam after all. The developers published a blog post today explaining how the fumbled launch went down — and why they still believe they were in the right legally. In short, Nintendo’s lawyers didn’t want it on Steam, and Valve wasn’t about to take a stand in a potential showdown with a fellow gaming behemoth.

The emulator’s creators explained that, contrary to online perceptions, Nintendo didn’t send the team a DMCA takedown notice (or any other legal action). However, Valve’s legal department contacted Nintendo, asking about the planned release of the app that could run old games like Super Mario Galaxy, Wii Sports and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask through the ubiquitous PC storefront. Valve then forwarded a statement from Nintendo’s lawyers to the Dolphin team and told them they could only launch the emulator if Nintendo approved. “We specifically request that Dolphin’s ‘coming soon’ notice be removed and that you ensure the emulator does not release on the Steam store moving forward,” Nintendo’s letter to Valve read.


It sounds like Valve didn’t want to get involved and instead put the onus on Dolphin’s developers to get permission which everyone involved must have known wouldn’t have been granted. Considering how quick a trigger Nintendo’s lawyers have had in the past — coupled with the wording of the letter they sent about the matter — the development team saw the writing on the wall and pulled the plug on the Steam release. Of course, the Dolphin Emulator is still available as a discrete download for Windows, macOS and Linux from the project’s website. However, having it on Steam could have boosted its perceived legitimacy and opened it up to a much wider audience.

“Valve ultimately runs the store and can set any condition they wish for software to appear on it,” the Dolphin team wrote today. “But given Nintendo’s long-held stance on emulation, we find Valve’s requirement for us to get approval from Nintendo for a Steam release to be impossible. Unfortunately, that’s that.”

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