For many fans of retro gaming, the easiest way to access a huge library of old titles is through ROM sites. But Nintendo are on the offensive.
With a little common sense and the ability to follow an online guide, anyone can build a retro video game console from a Raspberry PI capable of playing games from almost any retro platform.
What’s become known as a ROM (Read Only Memory) is effectively a copy of a game’s data that, when run through emulation software, allows you to play the game.
The use of this practice has been hotly contested for years. Software publishers argue that the distribution of ROMs on the internet is piracy of their intellectual property. The law tends to agree. The loophole to-date has been that if you own a copy of the original game, then you are within your rights to use a data copy of it.
In reality, we all know that’s not the case for 99% of ROM users. Sites that make vast libraries of ROMs available for download are a treasure trove for retro gamers who probably no longer own original consoles and games.
A Raspberry Pi loaded with RetroPie is all you need to play ROMs like a (final) boss
In the last month Nintendo have stepped up their offensive against some of the better know websites that host libraries of their games. Both LoveROMS.com and LoveRETRO.co were sued by Nintendo who are asking for $100 Million in damages stating that the two outlets, both owned by Mathias Designs LLC, are ‘Online Piracy Businesses’ making money out of Nintendo’s intellectual property.
The vast financial claim is certainly unrealistic, but Nintendo are hoping to set a precedent that will allow them the leverage to close down further online ROM libraries.
Their tactic seems to be working with one of the largest cross-platform ROM archives, EmuParadise.me choosing to remove the ability to download ROMs from their site. Their database of games remains, but the site will no longer be making ROMs available.
In a statement the site owners explain that after 18 years operating Emu Paradise “It’s not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences“. The site will remain as a tribute to retro-gaming and look to move in a new direction.
Is it game over for retro gaming? Or will the software publishers now take the initiative to begin charging for ROMs themselves? It seems likely.
For many it’s simply not plausible to maintain aging hardware and seek out old games.