Jul 20, 2023 2 min read

Plans to release Dolphin emulator on Steam abandoned

Previously announced plans to bring the popular Wii and GameCube emulator 'Dolphin' to Steam have now been abandoned.

Dolphin on Steam Deck

Previously announced plans to bring the popular Wii and GameCube emulator 'Dolphin' to Steam have now been abandoned.

The developers behind the Dolphin emulator have revealed that they are now abandoning previously announced plans to release the popular emulator on Steam.

Earlier this year in March initial plans to bring the Wii and GameCube emulator to Valve's Steam store were announced.

However, this planned Steam release was quickly stopped due to Valve and Nintendo communicating on the matter.

It was widely reported at the time that Nintendo had issued a DMCA notice to Valve, resulting in the release being halted.

However, we now know that Nintendo took no such action, and instead just requested that Valve prevent Dolphin from releasing on the Steam store, merely citing the DMCA as a justification to stop the tool from being made available through the popular storefront.

Nintendo's letter to Valve's legal department requested the following:

"We specifically request that Dolphin's "coming soon" notice be removed and that you [Valve] ensure the emulator does not release on the Steam store moving forward."

As a result Valve told Dolphin developers that they themselves would need to reach an agreement with Nintendo directly in order to release the emulation tool on Steam. Something that is never going to happen.

At the time the Dolphin team stressed how "with much disappointment" the planned release was now "indefinitely postponed".

Now, a few months on, the developers behind the long-running emulation project have shared a detailed update — noting how following the decision from Valve, and after consulting lawyers of their own, the plans to release Dolphin on Steam have been shelved.

In a post shared on the Dolphin project website the team said:

"after a long stay of silence, we have a difficult announcement to make. We are abandoning our efforts to release Dolphin on Steam. Valve ultimately runs the store and can set any condition they wish for software to appear on it. But given Nintendo's long-held stance on emulation, we find Valve's requirement for us to get approval from Nintendo for a Steam release to be impossible. Unfortunately, that's that."

The post goes on to discuss other legal considerations that the emulator has to navigate, chiefly those involving the 'Wii Common Key' for decrypting Wii discs.

However, on the whole and following the abandonment of the planned Steam release, the development team "do not believe that Dolphin is in any legal danger".

What Happened to Dolphin on Steam?
Well that blew up, huh? If you follow emulation or just gaming on the whole, you’ve probably heard about the controversy around the Dolphin Steam release and the Wii Common Key. There’s been a lot of conclusions made, and while we’ve wanted to defend ourselves, we thought it would be prudent to cont…

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