Retro gaming is a pastime and passion for countless thousands of nostalgia freaks all over the world but for gaming giant Nintendo, it’s a huge problem – apparently.
Last month, the Japanese company flexed its muscles by filing a complaint at a federal court in Arizona, targeting LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co for copyright and trademark infringement.
The sites, believed to be operated by Jacob Mathias and his company Mathias Designs LLC, offered access to a wide variety of ROMs, including those relating to many Nintendo games.
“The LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites are among the most open and notorious online hubs for pirated video games,” Nintendo wrote in its complaint.
“Through the LoveROMs and LoveRETRO websites, Defendants reproduce, distribute, publicly perform and display a staggering number of unauthorized copies of Nintendo’s video games, all without Nintendo’s permission.”
Both sites are currently down and displaying messages indicating they probably won’t be back. This development was met with disappointment from the emulator community but now there’s the inevitable problem of fallout and yet more bad news for retro fans.
In an announcement Wednesday, EmuParadise, one of the web’s longest standing emulator and ROM download portals, revealed that it will no longer be offering game ROMs for download. The news came in a heartfelt announcement by its founder MasJ, who explained that he’d pumped nearly two decades of his life into the project.
“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,” he wrote.
“From receiving threatening letters in the early days to our hosts suddenly shutting down our servers due to complaints, we’ve seen it all. We’ve always complied with takedown requests but as you can see, that is no guarantee of anything.”
MasJ says that having grown up in India, he never got to play any retro games. However, his love for the genre meant that he wanted others to join in, something which led to the creation of EmuParadise and the building of a like-minded team around the platform.
While the legal eagles out there might argue that ROM sites are illegal, this clinical view mostly fails to factor in the allure of retro games – many of them abandoned, many long forgotten – and the passion they generate among the faithful. MasJ highlights some of the feedback he’s had over the years and how people have been positively affected by his site.
“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,” he writes.
“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.”
But now, thanks to gaming giants choosing to protect often decades-old games that a minority play, the ride at EmuParadise is over. MasJ says that despite his passion for retro gaming, he’s not prepared to risk the futures of his team members by continuing.
“It’s not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences. I cannot in good conscience risk the futures of our team members who have contributed to the site through the years,” he explains.
“Thus, we have decided to make a new start. We will continue to be passionate retro gamers and will keep doing cool stuff around retro games. But you won’t be able to get your games from here for now.”
There are still plenty of reasons to visit EmuParadise, not least the buzzing community that has grown with it over the past 18 years. And of course, many site members will undoubtedly have every game EmuParadise ever had, squirreled away somewhere, waiting for that inevitable rainy day.