Yes, emulators are a thing, but Nintendo Switch emulators are not. The device is only a month old, and hackers have yet to crack it open and find what's going on inside let alone reproduce it. They might be experts, but they aren't wizards. This hasn't stopped scammers and hackers from using "Nintendo Switch emulators" to lure in unexpecting sojourners.

It's gotten bad, so bad to the point where even the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has had to issue a statement on it.

If you can't get your hands on a Nintendo Switch gaming system, you may think an emulator is the next best thing. Think again. Online ads for emulators, sometimes with Nintendo branding, say they can run Switch's games on your desktop. But there is no legit Nintendo Switch emulator. It's a scam.

Even worse, when you try to download a Nintendo Switch emulator, you can install unwanted applications on your computer. These apps give you misleading information about computer problems that aren't really there, then ask you to pay to fix them.

Other times, when you go to an emulator site, you get a link to a survey that you must complete to get a code to unlock the emulator. Again, the emulator doesn't really exist. Don't give personal information and don't sign up for anything requiring your credit card information. You're still not getting an emulator.

What can you do to avoid this scam?

  • Don't download anything that says it's a Nintendo Switch emulator.
  • Don't complete a survey to get an "unlock code." That's a red flag for a scam.
  • Keep your security software current. Set it to update automatically. Installing unknown programs can lead to malware.
  • Play Nintendo Switch at your friend's house until you're able to buy the real one yourself.

And if you think you've been the victim of a scam, report it to the FTC.

Well, what else are we supposed to do? Wait?

This is the point where I say "I wouldn't need an emulator if I was able to buy one," but alas. Nintendo says more Switches are on the way and there is not that much I can do but wait.