In what is a rather unsurprising move, Sega and Nintendo have pressured Google to remove certain emulators from the Android Market. Some of the details via Geek.com:
Over the weekend developer Yong Zhang, known on the Android Market as yongzh, saw his Android developer account revoked and all the apps he offers removed from the Market. The apps he was offering were all emulators for popular older systems including the NES, SNES, Genesis, N64, Atari, Game Gear, and Game Boy. But Google has seen fit to remove all of them ( including Nesoid, Snesoid, Gensoid, N64oid, Ataroid, Gearoid, and Gameoid).
Now, I know the rationale behind this. Or rather, I know of
it. I don't know
as in understand
I can see console developers having an issue with someone making money with their IP. I can understand why that's an issue. What I don't understand is why forcing these emulators and roms to be removed is the answer.
Reggie Fils-Aime has stated before his dislike
of indie developers and the general race-to-the-bottom price competition, but has anybody at Sega or Nintendo or Sony ever considered the possibility of contacting these developers and licensing the emulators?
[CLARIFICATION (mainly for the benefit of console developers): By "licensing," I don't mean wave the lawyer stick around threateningly until they give up all commercial rights in perpetuity in exchange for a lawsuit-free existence and a signed copy of Tamigotchi: Party On!
I mean actual fair licensing agreements in which both parties have a chance to make some money. END CLARIFICATION.]
There are thousands of fans out there, cranking out amazing stuff simply because they love the consoles and the games. Emulators, ROMs, fan fiction, fan movies
, translations, you name it, somebody is out there doing it.
And it's not like most of these consoles are still available from the developers and they're certainly not cranking out new titles for the Genesis or the SNES. So why not take all this fan power and harness it into something that makes you money (granted, not at $40-50 a pop) rather than just shutting it down and collecting a big fat $0 for your efforts.
Mobile gaming is
the new console gaming. All those kids who grew up with a NES or a Genesis are now cruising around with their smartphones looking for a hit of nostalgia. Besides, any gamer worth his fanboyism will tell you that all the best games were released at least
a decade ago, if not longer. (See also: Final Fantasy VII
, Sony Playstation, 1998.)
Besides, all the programming and debugging (well, most of it) has already been done. All it needs now is the official go-ahead from the console manufacturers and everyone can start printing money or bitcoins or whatever. You're not going to get rid of them. The fans are everywhere and they've got more enthusiasm than you've got lawyers. If you can't beat 'em, monetize 'em.
UPDATE: As Chris Rhodes (and others) have pointed out, this emulator removal does not have anything to do with Nintendo. In fact, it looks as if yongzh brought this upon himself by selling open source code as his own.
The two links I used to put this story together (the one in the post) and this one over at Engadget both mention Sega's hand in getting some emulators pulled and conjecture that Nintendo may have been involved with getting the rest removed. It's not until you start reading the comment thread at Engadget that any of yongzh's misdeeds are even mentioned. Generally, I don't head to the comment threads to get the real story, but there's a first time for everything and unfortunately, this wasn't it.
Between those two articles and a long history of console developers battling emulator/ROM programmers, not to mention Nintendo's obvious lack of interest in developing for smartphones, I assumed that Nintendo was involved.
Well, as the old saying goes: "Never assume, because it makes an ass out of the author and often leads to public evisceration and eternal damnation thanks to Google cache."
My thanks to everyone who pointed this out and my apologies to everyone else.