EmuParadise "changing" direction


#1

EmuParadise has announced that it is changing, notably, that it will no longer offer ROMs of games published by major publishers due to increased legal pressure/concerns:

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. We run EmuParadise for the love of retro games and for you to be able to revisit those good times. Unfortunately, it’s not possible right now to do so in a way that makes everyone happy and keeps us out of trouble.
. . .
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. Where we go with this is up to us and up to you.

I do not know entirely how I feel about the announcement; I am, in part sad, as I think EmuParaside offered a wonderful service and I have used it intermittently for the last fifteen or so years to play games that would otherwise be unavailable to me because they were out of print, obscure, neglected, etc. On the other hand, it was a piracy service and there was a glorious period of time when I found out you could load up a blank DS cartridge with ROMs and, well, that kept me occupied for at least two years and I did not buy any games during that time. On top of this I am now thirty, finishing up law school, and primarily focused on intellectual property issues and trying to navigate my own beliefs on how “fans / consumers” interact with IPs and how creators should be compensated and able to protect their works.

I do not have a more profound though to offer on the subject at this time but it’s generally where my head is at.


#2

It’s REALLY bad news as a whole for game preservation, because if there’s one certain thing about this garbage industry, it’s that it doesn’t care about its own history beyond cashing in for nostalgia dollars, and usually doing it incredibly poorly. Illegal means really are the best strategies we have to preserving games, especially for games made by dead companies, but the idea that it could all be destroyed and thousands of games lost to history because Nintendo wants to overcharge for NES ROMs is quite frankly terrifying to me.

Cartridges and CDs are wearing out, we need digital preservation just so a lot of games can continue to exist, or else they’ll disappear like countless old burned films. The fact most old titles that get re-released have DRM that will eventually render them worthless after a set amount of years or just a lost of service to the DRM holder spits in the face of that. GoG’s DRM re-releases are great, but they’re the minority here.


#3

While the chilling effect on ROM sites is disheartening from a game preservation view, the genie has already been out of the bottle for a long time. Not going to get into details, but there are ways to easily download the entirety of non-disc-based consoles’ libraries (and some disc-based consoles’ as well). Possibly, given the amount of spyware and malware that these ROM sites were often filled with, users might be better off in the long term.


#4

The archival situation is such a mess, and frankly I find the same argument exhausting over and over because it always seems like the mainstream gaming audience is talking out of both ends of their mouth a lot of the time. On the one hand, I see all this hand wringing about how it’s a shame that these things are abandoned and if no one is going to try and bring them back they should be freely available, and then in the very next breath they complain endlessly about constant re-releases and how Nintendo is out of their minds for daring to charge for Super Mario Brothers yet again. If you don’t want to actually pay for things when someone puts forth the effort to make them continuously available, then don’t be surprised when they don’t step up to the plate.


#5

This is what makes this news especially bad because EMU was one of the few clean sites. Them bowing out is a huge blow for safe preservation.


#6

The big problem with Nintendo in this instance is that they aren’t GoG. Once they stop supporting the virtual console service on their given console, you can never uninstall the game you paid for because you won’t ever get it back in that form.

Even then, it’s less being able to get Mario ROMs and more having access to forgotten or obscure games otherwise unplayable from smaller companies or were previously region locked. Nintendo’s recent aggression against ROMs threatens that through proximity, and honestly, it could possibly threaten access to older Nintendo titles because it takes them FOREVER to re-release old titles (which, by the by, are literally just ROMs they’re selling back through their limited time service).


#7

I’m not saying it’s a perfect 1/1 comparison, and Nintendo’s digital experience is lacking at best. I do feel that a lot of people have conflicting notions about this sort of thing though. It’s hard to be upset that companies abandon old games and don’t give you legal options to play them while also balking at having to pay a few bucks to play an old game. The people I talk to who are incredulous that they’d have to pay $10 to play Super Metroid again aren’t upset because of the eventual death of the digital platform. They’re upset because they feel it’s too much for a game that old, or too much because buying it digitally once means they should own it forever on any Nintendo system.


#8

Fair enough. If I can actually buy the game again and know I can safely keep it in some form, I will.

As for the Nintendo situation, if they just give the literal ROMs they got from illegal sites (because that’s what they did) installers upon buying one, I wouldn’t have any complaints because you could uninstall and reinstall the game you purchased on that system as much as you want. But that would mean less control over the consumer so you can’t resell them something they already bought one console generation ago.

Honestly I wish more companies just used ROMs with re-releases. Nintendo was smart there, they’re pretty faithful re-creations of the original releases. Meanwhile, you have companies porting old games to Steam via mobile ports that have large chunks of content cut out (COUGHCOUGHMICRODSRERELEASINGTHEDRACULASERIESCOUGHCOUGH) or have such changed assists to fit with a mobile screen that it’s practically a lesser version of the original product (COUGHCOUGHCHRONOTRIGGERCOUGHCOUGH).


#9

I feel like companies taking their ball and going home because of those doggone pirates is the most blasé position they can take. People happily pirated movies and TV, and then Netflix came along, so they stopped because the legal alternative became palatable. Same with music, books, and even non-Nintendo video games. If the ask is to pay $10 every few years to just play Super Metroid, versus doing some ill shit to play it indefinitely for free, the choice is pretty easy for most people. Hopefully their new service for the Switch can tip the balance back to a legal alternative.

And that’s not getting to the issue that it’s fucked up that 40+ year old games remain under copyright with a single company. Fuck Mickey Mouse IP laws.


#10

Games that actually require preservation the most would rarely get remastered even if complaining about $10 Super Metroid wasn’t as much of a thing. Nintendo’s not going to put out X for the GB, even as it remains a quietly major part of the now-released-for-a-sales-gimmick-more-than-preserving-the-game Star Fox 2, and they never ever would. I mean, shit, there’s a phenomenal-looking DSiWare sequel to X that’s also heinously unpreserved, and that’s around a decade younger!

We’re unlikely to have new official channels for Star Raiders, or Zero Tolerance, or Rescue On Fractalus, even as these things were technically huge milestones in the past of their respective consoles and publishers, and that’s just when you’re playing by the nonsense rules of merit, let alone even more overlooked works that aren’t even that old. This isn’t an individual failing of any one company, as per usual, The Whole Damn System Is Corrupt. As long as we gotta work within that, I’m gonna have to come down on the side that it’s A Good Thing, Actually, to have means to circumvent unending bureaucratic arbitration that treats games deemed “unknown” as “marked for erasure”.

Going full hog and removing all games from the site is understandable from a current management perspective, and obviously there are alternatives that people will either make from whole cloth or find as already-existing replacements to recommend. Still, the kinds of requests (see: threats) that lead to this are never a good faith attempt to protect the labor of games industry workers, and it’s a bummer that it got to this level even with EP already taking measures to remove major (suspiciously only Nintendo?) properties beforehand.


#11

As someone whose creative output gets pirated pretty frequently by dudes too entitled to pay for anything that exists in a niche they like, I… feel like the point you’re making here w/r/t piracy being the fault of the people who make and sell the stuff is kind of rough.

Ultimately in my experience there are people who don’t care enough about anything to support its creation monetarily and there’s folks who want to see more of their fav stuff exist, and so pay for it. Definitely a factor in being a member of the second group is being in a position to pay for it, which I understand. It is hard though when you’re the person who made something to make cosmic peace with the idea that dudes who feel like they deserve your thing but also assign it zero value are just going to be able to have it for free forever (validating their view that it’s worthless) and there’s nothing you can or should do about it.

Agree w/ you in regards to what a bummer the non availability of legal media is and the perpetuity of copyright laws are, tho.


#12

Just a reminder that it is literally impossible to play the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World game in any legal capacity whatsoever. It is a game that came out less than a decade ago, and is not an MMO or other type of game that requires consistent connection to a server.

So yeah, this is bad.


#13

Venture capital has completely obliterated realistic expectations of how much a service ought to cost. All shipping should take 2 days, and should be free, or just fuck off. I should be able to see any movie I want, as often as I want, for $10 a month, or fuck off. I should be able to listen to any song in the world, for free, or fuck off. Soon, I should be able to play any game in the world, for $10 a year. None of it is realistic in the least, none of it results in creators getting paid fairly, and all of it is a flat-out exploitative scam meant to destroy the competition.

24%20AM

I frequently hear people say “I’d pay $5 a month to play every Nintendo console game ever released” and all I think is how that math doesn’t add up at all. Our expectations are fucked up, and not wholly dissimilar from those who feel entitled to pirate whatever they want.


#14

People who pirate stuff that can be easily purchased and kept and can afford the base price really are the lowest, no question.

But we’re also in a situation where pirating tactics are the only ways we can actually keep some games around in an existing form, which is really messed up. Imagine where’d film and TV would be if we didn’t have the advent of the VHS around, countless works would have been lost to the ages, either rotting in a store room somewhere or just flat out burned (coughthebbc).

This is the situation we find ourselves in with game preservation. I think this thread really sums up just why its so necessary:

That is really messed up.


#15

Which will continue to happen, these games have been circulating for over a decade this change isn’t going to get rid of the very easily accessible vetted and well seeded torrents.

Without breaking the rules here I think you could still find a torrent that contains every single GB game including the various versions that differed slightly between regions and releases.

If you are someone who strongly cares about preservation you probably already have a list of ROMS with all their hashes for comparing to new ones you come across.


#16

I apologize if my comment came off as overly dismissive of the needs of creators in this situation. It certainly was not what I intended. My contention is simply that in the case of something like Super Metroid there is next to no chance that the people that made that game will ever see a dime of the $10 spent to play it on Virtual Console. It’s simply rent seeking by a major corporation to fatten their pockets, and so the moral argument to pay for it is weak enough that people aren’t going to jump through extra hoops when there is an easy and free alternative. As such, the only real move for Nintendo is to get with the times and offer a Netflix-like library, something that can be done at a relatively low cost to establish a steady income stream (similar to Sony’s Playstation Plus or Microsoft’s XBL Gold).

Of course, that’s not to say that creators in the present aren’t hurt by casual piracy, as you attest. There the moral argument becomes a lot stronger, and public shaming of those that cross that line is more than reasonable. But on a practical level, what can be done to really stop people from freely pirating digital media?

@kcin
The weird thing about people saying “I’d pay $5 a month to play every Nintendo console game ever released” is that that’s pretty much what I paid for SNES games back in the day at my local rental shop. Rentals were $2 for 5 days, and that’s how I played pretty much all the games from that era. To be sure $5 back then isn’t $5 now (and I’d have spent closer to $10/month), but you get the point. VC sure has disrupted markets, but “rentals” (which is what a digital service essentially is) have been around for a minute.


#17

A valid observation. Games rental is similar to digital subscription services in that neither serve the creator as well as they do the distributor. Hell, every industry that has had their products rented has pushed back against the rental industry as hard as creators are pushing back against the streaming industry - the same problems are cropping up in the same ways. The only difference is that now, there is more to distribute, and the average price for access is lower.

All this to say that, given the current state of things, I am pretty comfortable with how I feel about the extremely common practice of torrenting console packs of old games.


#18

Hey remember how the US effectively killed Net Neutrality rules and Europe just barely not passed a piece of legislation that would have effectively killed the entire concept of a free internet

Also torrenting is a terrible option many can’t use for a large variety of reasons that results in only a small fraction of people being able to find these works, and I doubt anyone will bother seeding more obscure stuff after awhile.

I honestly don’t think things are going to improve ever, especially now that Disney’s rights to Mickey Mouse are almost up again meaning we’ll probably lose the concept of free domain and copyright law will enter a new era of crackdown madness.

Sorry for all the doomsaying but MAN it has been a really bad past few years for the internet and preservation doesn’t mean much when people can’t access the actually preserved stuff, and I don’t know how much longer that will even be possible for most people.


#19

I understand what you are getting at but at the same time, I also think there will always be people looking at how to circumvent what the government wants when it comes to controlling information. To use China as an example their government very strongly wants to control what their citizens can do on their internet but plenty of citizens also know how to get around the Great Firewall.

I mean it seems to me at least the thing to do would be to set up a similar site on Tor (if there isn’t one already) and just host the files on there, I want to say all known Genesis/Master ROMs compressed comes out to under a gig. Tor seems mysterious and complicated (“thats that thing the hackers use they talked about on the news”) but it’s really not, you just use the Tor Browser and have knowledge of what the address is similar to how people join a private tracker for torrenting. For example OnionShare is an easy to use self-hosting file sharing service using Tor.

Right now I can’t see Nintendo trying to put resources into figuring out who is hosting their ROMs on an onion site like government agencies are.


#20

Actually, no.

To you, perhaps, they are “easily accessible” but I consider myself very computer literate, and I literally have no idea where I could even start looking for these types of torrents and how to tell which sites are legitimate. They all look the same to me and I’m unsure how I would go about doing this.

I used to know, of course. I knew over five years ago, back when the only way to get access to certain international types of media was to torrent it. But as soon as things started to change and digital distribution began to catch up with the demands of consumers like me, I flat out stopped pirating things.

So standing here today, I have no idea how to access these old games, and the assumption that “oh well just go find a torrent” may be accurate for you and your knowledge of the internet, but blanket assuming everyone shares that knowledge is busted.

Losing a safe site that hosted all this is a massive blow. People who want to pirate 20 year old games are gonna do it, especially given how demonstrably shitty Nintendo is about making their backlog available to even the consumers who are willing to shell out X dollars to buy Donkey Kong Country for the sixth time. But now, it’s a more dangerous venture to shift through.