Is emulation really ok for a recent release game?


With the recent news of Atlus going after RPCS3 emulator for having Persona 5 on it, I seen many respond with the same dribble of “This is the only way to get it on PC” but is that really the right thing to do for recent release games? Is it not stealing at this point?


I’m gaining nothing from playing it on a PS3. As long as I own my copy, I don’t see the issue of playing it on my PC at this point, and I have more options to make it a better experience overall.

You just can’t equate emulation with piracy, the work they’re doing is removed from that, which is why Atlus is doing the wrong thing.


Emulation can definitely help facilitate stealing but emulation is also used for legitimate backup and archival purposes. Piracy is not a byproduct of emulation.

It’s like trying to get rid of spoons because people can use them to smoke crack.


Downloading a Persona 5 rom is stealing. There’s nothing illegal about running a legally purchased copy of a PS3 game in an emulator.


My limited understanding is that there is no way ATLUS has any case here and I’m not sure Persona “Gay Men Are All Offensive Stereotypes That Hit On Teenagers Which Is A Thing We Only Object To When It’s Not Sexy Like When It’s Your Teacher In A Maid Costume Or Your Doctor” 5 is the game with which to try and make any kind of moral case for.

If they fancy themselves to be some sort of underdog they are quite mistaken


When you buy a game, that copy is yours (so the limitations are only on doing something like duplicating it to distribute to others). There is literally nothing to do with stealing going on just based on when the game is released. It’s only stealing if you steal a copy of something. The machine you plug that copy into doesn’t change that one bit.

It’s not even that we need to lean on the use for archival/preservation of culture purposes: if you didn’t allow someone to play a game in whatever machine they wanted then you’d effectively be saying that you’re not selling games. I want games, as all mass-produced media, to be sold because copyright provides a path to a sensible agreement (hey, maybe these copyright terms should be 20 years not life+70 but that’s details compared to throwing away the entire legacy of copy sales/copyright) where everyone benefits. One of the parts of that is that once a copy is sold then the person who now owns it… owns it. That should give them basically the ability to do most everything with that thing that is now theirs and new laws/claims designed to lock that down are eroding the very bedrock of copyright. It’s extremely bad, short term profiteering at the cost of the contract at the heart of all media production under capitalism.


Yeah emulation isn’t piracy, instead of going after emulation they can try going after piracy of their game.
Fat chance of them stopping it though.


I understand that publishers and developers might want to have such control over the delivery of their products that they can guarantee their desired experience of playing a game, but i don’t think that should accrue legal condoning. If it doesn’t include an the unlawful acquisition of the game, i don’t see what’s to be “not ok” with an individual trying to emulate an environment where the product can be experienced with a high degree of verisimilitude to its intended design, or perhaps with even better increased technical fidelity, and otherwise think that it is relatively important that we allow for individuals macgiverying their way into upsetting the technological status quo. Personally, if i were a developer or publisher i would be more concerned with unauthorized access to assets and their illegitimate reproduction outside of the game that could come from using this emulation environment.


“unauthorized access to assets” from sold copies?

Because the only way (fairly, under copyright) to prevent someone enjoying ungluing the binding of your book or scraping the pigment flecks off your painting is to… not sell any copies. Once the copies are sold then someone else owns them and should absolutely have the right to play with that copy that they wholly own.

You don’t need authorisation to play around with the assets you’ve already purchased by buying a copy. If I buy a book then I can, if I want, remix those pages. I can add my own pages to get the flow to work better. I can take someone else’s instructions on how to do this to make something interesting as long as they don’t provide me any of the original pages and freely give the new connecting text.

We are all listening to things that invent “concerns” for emulators but which, when you actually break that down, don’t pan out. We should be as concerned by big publishers eroding copyright as we are of pirates who “don’t respect copyright”. What is denying the rights of people who purchase copyrighted material but not respecting that copyright agreement?


So is the emulator using actual bought copies of the game or is it a downloaded ISO that was found on the web. It the later part that makes me call it illegal with the former being just a way to make your copy better.


So why is this about emulation? (It’s the framing of the original question that is a cause for concern.)

If the issue is with downloading copies (which you don’t already own a copy of - some discs are made to be non-trivial to produce a personal backup copy of, preserving your own copy to be used how you wish) then it has nothing to do with how it is played or the topic of emulators. How does this tie into recent releases - should we not care about denying the revenue of the long tail from developers who released a game several years ago?


What I was getting at is it ok to be doing a emulating (assuming you got the game from a downloaded ISO) of a game that came out and have access to compare to much older games that are hard to find?


In this forum, we have Rule 6.

Don’t post pirated materials or links to pirated materials. Don’t suggest you have access to pirated materials.

It’s not ok to talk about having pirated a game. Emulation doesn’t come into it. New release or not doesn’t come into it. There’s already a blanket rule here that says what you suggest is not ok and that the mods will at least have words with anyone who even just claimed to have done so.

The wider point being: that’s not a discussion of emulation, it a discussion purely about copyright infringement.


I’d love to know if anyone (maybe the OP?) who think that purveyors of digital goods should be able to control the ways their products are used by their customers also thinks that people selling physical ones should too.

Copyright law gives rights-holders some important rights, but there are limits and some degree of balancing their interests with the interests of their customers and wider society. There’s something about digital media that seems to make people forget all that.


What do you mean by “ok”? Do you simply mean “legal”, or do you mean “ethically sound”? There are some things that are perfectly legal but contribute to social problems, like giving money to problematic people, such as paying to see a Roman Polanski film or buying a book by Orson Scott Card. And then the ultimate issue with this seems like whether or not people should consume media in a way different than the creators intended. I personally don’t see it any differently than when people say about a movie, “You have to see it in a theater!” or “You have to see it in IMAX!” That’s cool, and I’m sure the experience is different; but it’s not illegal and not everyone has the ability to do so.

And then a separate issue is Atlus’ problem with the RPC3 emulator, which I had to research. Their problem isn’t with the emulator’s ability to play Persona 5; it’s with the emulator company using Persona 5 in their Patreon videos and under their list of updated games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like the DMCA protects them in any way. The DMCA is specifically intended for the circumvention of copy protection, which doesn’t apply to this emulator. However, they could have sued on trademark infringement, which is a completely different thing and set of laws than copyright infringement, because the RPC3 people were constantly using Persona 5 on their website. I’m not saying they should, but that makes a lot more sense than citing the DMCA.


For me it about ethics of I’m paying the devs for their hard work but if I’m emulating the game with data I got from someplace online that not ok. I just see part of this as people don’t want to pay for their games and a system and it wrong for me to think like that since people want Persona 5 on PC and may not have the money to get a PS4 but then a better solution is to not play it at all and message Atlus why you wont buy it.


I think you’re pretending that “emulation” and “piracy” are the same thing and they’re not. You can emulate software without pirating it. Likewise, you can pirate something without emulating it. So is the issue about emulation or piracy? Because it sounds like you are against piracy and most people’s responses are concerning emulation.

I think the question of whether or not piracy is ethically “ok” is a much more difficult question, and I don’t see the connection between that and the Atlus/RPC3 controversy.

And don’t forget that suggesting you “have access to pirated materials” breaks Rule 6 of these message boards, which is why, if we do start talking about “piracy” instead of “emulation”, that’s a slippery slope that could get this thread locked. Just sayin’.


Yeah I don’t mean I have something but just using it as a line to help back up my statement. I’ll be careful. And I’m not really pretending, I seen too many time people uses these systems to get around paying for games even after the games were coming out on steam and consoles.


They didn’t really say that :

"The PS3 emulator itself is not infringing on our copyrights and trademarks; however, no version of the P5 game should be playable on this platform; and [the RPCS3] developers are infringing on our IP by making such games playable”

They removed mention of Persona 5 per the request of Patreon to proceed with caution, but the issue is that they’re abusing the DMCA with no legal grounds.

edit : adding source for convenience


As an artist who works with a lot of artists, I understand the need to protect intellectual property, especially since I’ve known plenty of people who have been used by larger organizations. I also understand, as a millennial (although, near the top of the age spectrum) that it’s extremely hard to make a living. I can’t, in good conscience, fault the fellow poor who still want entertainment and are able to circumvent the law and “take money” from other artists in the process. It’s really hard. I think this brings us to a larger conversation about capitalism and its role in the arts world.

And then, even further on the other hand, I know plenty of free, legal ways to consume a lot of media. I’m fortunate that my public library is well-funded and has a lot of new books, movies, and TV shows. One of my branches even started lending board games, which is really cool. And then there’s my various friend groups where, if I put up a call, I could probably get a copy of whatever new PS4 game I want to try.

I don’t think it’s everyone’s “right” to be able to consume any media at any time. But I also understand the greater problems surrounding piracy and I’m also empathetic to people I don’t necessarily agree with. So, yeah, it’s a much trickier problem than we’re likely to tackle here. Thanks for bringing it up, though, @Metalsnakezero.