Steam Deck
Image: via Twitter

Update #3 [Sat 3rd Jun, 2023 01:35 BST]:

Valve spokesperson Kaci Aitchison Boyle has now issued a statement (via The Verge), noting how Valve was the one to inform Nintendo:

Given Nintendo’s history of taking action against some emulators, we brought this to their attention proactively after the Dolphin team announced it was coming soon to Steam.

Valve also shared a separate statement, providing its own explanation:

We operate Steam as an open platform, but that relies on creators shipping only things they have the legal right to distribute. Sometimes third parties raise legal objections to things on Steam, but Valve isn’t well positioned to judge those disputes – the parties have to go to court, or negotiate between themselves. An accusation of copyright infringement, for example, can be handled under the DMCA process, but other disputes (like trademark infringement or a breach of contract claim between a developer and a publisher) don’t have a statutory dispute resolution process, so in these cases we generally will cease distributing the material until the parties tell Valve that they have resolved their dispute.

We don’t want to ship an application we know could be taken down, because that can be disruptive to Steam users. Given Nintendo’s history of taking action against some emulators, we brought this to their attention proactively after the Dolphin team announced it was coming soon to Steam.

Based on the letter we received, Nintendo and the Dolphin team have a clear legal dispute between them, and Valve can’t sit in judgment.

Update #2 [Mon 29th May, 2023 23:00 BST]:

A Nintendo spokesperson has now issued an official statement (via Kotaku):

“Nintendo is committed to protecting the hard work and creativity of video game engineers and developers. This emulator illegally circumvents Nintendo’s protection measures and runs illegal copies of games. Using illegal emulators or illegal copies of games harms development and ultimately stifles innovation. Nintendo respects the intellectual property rights of other companies, and in turn expects others to do the same.”

PC Gamer has also called on attorney Kellen Voyer of Voyer Law, specialising in intellectual property and technology, to further explain Nintendo's communication with Valve:

"Here, there is no allegation that Valve is currently hosting anything that infringes Nintendo’s copyright or, more broadly, violates the DMCA. Rather, Nintendo is sending clear notice to Valve that it considers Dolphin to violate the DMCA and should it be released on Steam, Nintendo will likely take further action. Given that Valve controls what is available on its store, it made the decision not to wade into any dispute between the Dolphin developers and Nintendo and, instead, followed Nintendo’s preemptive request and took down the Steam page."

Update #1 [Sat 27th May, 2023 13:45 BST]:

Dataminer and Nintendo Life user LuigiBlood has highlighted the following quote - revealing the Wii Common Key is in the source code of Dolphin Emulator.

LuigiBlood: "the Dolphin emulator operates by incorporating these cryptographic keys without Nintendo’s authorization and decrypting the ROMs at or immediately before runtime." ...this is objectively true. I just checked, the Wii Common Key is in the emulator source code.

Game developer MVG has also shared his own summary of the situation based on this information, and even found evidence (dating back to 2020) of an individual known as 'Littlemac123' warning others about the "copyrighted code from the Wii system" in Dolphin Emulator and the problems it could cause if it was released on Steam.

Updated: MVG: "...'Littlemac123' all the way back in 2020, you had your finger on the pulse here... unfortunately Dolphin is not going to a part of Steam and hopefully that will change...on this particular one, I'm not going to say Nintendo is at fault...but Dolphin did mess this up and they really need to address it and hopefully they will."

Original article [Sat 27th May, 2023 04:05 BST]:

Back in March, the team behind the GameCube and Wii emulator Dolphin announced a release on Valve's Steam service.

In an update on the Dolphin website today, it has been revealed Nintendo has issued a "cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin's Steam page". The release, which was scheduled for "Q2 2023", has now been "indefinitely postponed".

Here is the full statement from the development team, mentioning how it is "currently investigating" its options:

Updated: "It is with much disappointment that we have to announce that the Dolphin on Steam release has been indefinitely postponed. We were notified by Valve that Nintendo has issued a cease and desist citing the DMCA against Dolphin's Steam page, and have removed Dolphin from Steam until the matter is settled. We are currently investigating our options and will have a more in-depth response in the near future. We appreciate your patience in the meantime."

In Dolphin's Steam description, it was noted how the "app does not come with games" and would require players to "own an original copy of any game". The emulator's release on Steam also promised support for 4K displays, modern controllers, netplay, was fully open-source, and was a "free" download.

Other emulators already exist on Steam, like RetroArch - so there might still be a chance for Dolphin to be released on Valve's service in some way or form in the near future.

Dolphin Steam - Nintendo Life IMG
Image: Nintendo Life / via Steam

If there are further developments, we will let you know.