Kotaku’s Emulation Fear Mongering

March 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Ouya Console

Over at Kotaku, Tina Amini recently wrote a piece titled “Ouya Tries To Dispel Fears That The Console’s Nintendo Emulators Will Promote Piracy.” It’s not a good piece.

First of all, the author isn’t clear whose fears Ouya is trying to dispel. By my reading, it is only the author herself who “fears” what may happen if Ouya allows Nintendo emulators on its console, and only because she wants to drum up controversy for a blog post. Fear mongering bullshit.

Tina, don’t use fear over emulation or piracy as your traffic-boosting media pawn. It doesn’t help anybody.

Emulation isn’t the enemy. Piracy isn’t even the enemy. They’re bogeymen that help preserve a system where media companies overcharge and re-charge for their works over and over and over again. (I’m talking all media here, not just video games.)

The never-ending war against piracy isn’t a war against pirates. It’s a war against consumers. The content industry has dressed it up to look like a battle of good vs. evil when it’s really just a battle to keep your wallet pried open while dollars pour out.

That war has real casualties for everyone that are far worse than piracy: things like consumers’ fair-use rights over products they have rightfully purchased or licensed, free speech, security research, and our historical legacy.

Piracy, if left completely unchecked, would definitely hurt publishers. But it’s not unchecked. It’s illegal.

Let people do what they want with open platforms. Let the law be the law, and let the people decide if it’s in their best interest to respect it or break it.

You could always put people in straitjacket if you didn’t want them to break any laws, but it wouldn’t allow them to be free, would it?

DRM is a digital straitjacket, and a “walled garden” is a fancy name for a comfortable prison. If a company like Ouya is brave enough to let their console be used for whatever purpose, that should be commended, not discouraged.

P.S. Fix the DMCA

10 Responses to “Kotaku’s Emulation Fear Mongering”

  1. Eagles409 Says:


  2. Skywyze Says:

    Great post Benj! I agree, less convoluted laws and more personal responsibility!

  3. idisjunction Says:

    I get the sense from reading the article that Tina has no idea how an emulator actually works. Or Android, for that matter.

  4. Dementropy Says:

    This article is fantastic, and it’s a stance that can’t be reiterated enough. I on’t think there’s an emulation platform that isn’t use for distributing “out-of-print” works or ones that the original publishers feel the nee to re-sell without any marked improvements ( Like Square-Enix with Final Fantasy 7 last year – an in the near future through Steam). What *does* seem to get overlooked by the “OMG emulators are promoting piracy and forcing (?) publishers to raise their prices!” crowd is how many people (some of them rather innovative) use emulators to make some pretty neat homebrew games – even using the latest generation of consoles.

    I know Kotaku loves traffic/fanservice, but that article really had no firm basis for its argument, and trying to get people up in arms over a tired and beaten to death topic is well below the cutting edge of industry news.

  5. Iggy Says:

    Anyone who has read kotaku for long enough will know the whole site is a crapshoot. The writers are all paid by clicks per article so it leads too all the crappy misleading titles you see on the site. nonetheless I’m happy to see someone else point them out for some of their crap.

  6. Dar Says:

    One line from her correspondence I don’t get is:
    “OUYA will accept emulators as long as they adhere to our content guidelines and are not submitted with any games. Meaning, if they have games they would be breaking our IP infringement guidelines.”

    So…it’s okay to submit emulators without anything for them to emulate?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding?

  7. Benj Edwards Says:

    Good points, Iggy. I’ve been a fan of Kotaku since 2005, especially during Brian Crecente’s editorship when a number of really great writers worked for the site (a few have since left to Polygon, along with Brian). Stephen Totilo is generally good, and I enjoy his work, but yeah, it’s a crapshoot.

    I’ve tried to keep Kotaku as the main gaming blog I read, but it’s become harder and harder to do over the past year or so. Anti-consumer posts like the one I mentioned here that seem out of touch with the gaming population make it very hard indeed.

  8. Eagles409 Says:

    @Dar – my understanding is that you can download the emulator from Ouya for the games, but you’ll be on your own to provide the actual games. Since the Ouya will take an external hard drive, you could load games on a hard drive and plug it in and run the Ouya provided emulator. Since the system is going to be wide open, it will probably take about 5 minutes before an emulator for every game system on the planet is available.

  9. roflmao Says:

    Thank you.

  10. Matt Says:

    I received a PS Vita as a gift, and its crippling is unconscionable too. I legitimately own a pile of PSP which it’s perfectly capable of playing natively, but Sony crippled that feature on purpose so you can re-buy all your games AGAIN from them with one signature line added in the code (exploits have already proven it can run them all). So, besides the 2 games it came with, I’m waiting for the full exploit a la M33 for Vita (and using my M33 PSP1000), and I’m not paying Sony for anything. Until we burn down these companies for this childish nonsense, they’ll just make it worse.

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