A lawsuit filed by Nintendo last month against two large emulation sites might have gotten the ball rolling for another round of debate about retro gaming piracy vs. preservation, a debate Nintendo outright refuses to participate in as stated on its FAQ page, but a move made this week will have damning effects around the world of emulation. EmuParadise, a preferred website for many gamers seeking retro games available nowhere else for the past 18 years, has announced plans to shut itself down.
The move comes as a shock to many as EmuParadise was one of the sole ROM websites that curated the best ROMs, highlighted the best patches and fan-translations, adhered to some standards by complying to specific takedown notices from companies, and provided a safe haven from ZIP files that come loaded with viruses. The website solely and passionately provided its service to do what the video game industry is utterly incompetent and awful at doing: preserving its history and making otherwise lost games available to everyone.
EmuParadise addressed the closure in a blog post:
Many of you are aware that the situation with regards to emulation sites has been changing recently. What you probably don’t know is that we at EmuParadise have been dealing with similar issues for all 18 years of our existence.
Through the years I’ve worked tirelessly with the rest of the EmuParadise team to ensure that everyone could get their fix of retro gaming. We’ve received thousands of emails from people telling us how happy they’ve been to rediscover and even share their childhood with the next generations in their families.
We’ve had emails from soldiers at war saying that the only way they got through their days was to be lost in the retro games that they played from when they were children. We’ve got emails from brothers who have lost their siblings to cancer and were able to find solace in playing the games they once did as children. There are countless stories like these.
The loss of EmuParadise comes at a time when digital trends are taking over the industry and physical media is not only on the way out but also skyrocketing in price as collector’s items on the secondhand market. You would think a simple sale through Steam or GOG would solve all of our problems, but that’s simply not the case.
Some franchises have been lost under a bureaucracy of ownership and distribution licenses, meaning nobody knows who owns them. Some games have never been translated and aren’t financially viable enough for their publishers who fork the bill to provide a solid localization. Some franchises simply have no value on the modern day market. Others are being sat on and hoarded for the chance of a mediocre third-person shooter reboot someday, and some publishers slap together an awful PC port like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI on Steam and call it a day, thinking they’ve done enough.
In fact, I’m sure many publishers simply prefer gamers spend their valuable dollars and time on modern games, subscriptions, season passes, and loot crates. Retro games don’t allow for the modern extremities of games, meaning their is no way to profit on them after they’ve been sold.
Whatever the reason, the video game industry, especially Nintendo, doesn’t respect its legacy nearly enough to provide a quality channel for those who want to play old games and, in turn, pushes the audience into piracy through its own incompetence. They can tout museum exhibitions, which only a small percentage of gamers can go see, or their vastly limited subscription services and infrequent compilations, but the truth is, whatever they publish only covers about a single percent of the history that’s out there.
And with the closure of EmuParadise, a website that stepped in to do the job that they refuse to do, a business suit in an ivory tower and his circle gang of lawyers are twirling their villainous mustaches and chomping on cigars, toasting to the fact that they’re depriving gamers of their passion and killing their history to make way for the future.
As usual, buy your video games, people. If there is a viable option out there where you can legally purchase a retro video game that you want, take it. It’s the right thing to do, and, as much as I hate to admit it and lead publishers into the delusion that they’re doing a good job, we need to show a flow of cash to prove there is a market for all old video games, not just the limited selection they give us.