Is Nintendo being too harsh?


opinion One can’t help noticing that the creator of such cute and cuddly creatures such as Mario, pink and fluffy Kirby and the Lemmings-like Pikmin has been acting a little like Bowser recently.

In Australia grouchy Nintendo has been serving out lawsuits, kicking down doors and dragging the evil forces of video game piracy into the Federal Court for a right dressing down.

All the court action reminds me of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, but without the cute offsider who smiles at you adoringly while pulling the odd rabbit out of her hat. Wait, was that in Phoenix Wright or Apollo Justice? Maybe both.

Anyway, if Nintendo was running for office in an upcoming election, it’d be on a law and order ticket.

The problem is, doesn’t it seem like it’s a little harsh for the Japanese giant to be throwing its weight around so much? Sure, video game piracy takes money from Nintendo and its game developers, but most people in Australia pay for their games.

And although Nintendo is completely within the law to attack piracy through suing those who upload rogue copies of New Super Mario Bros or sell DS mod chips, it’s not as if doing so is going to make the problem go away.

Instead of someone in Australia conducting such nefarious activities, it’ll just be a shady guy in a dirty brown suit in a less regulated country overseas, and many people will pick up a less than legit copy of Mario in Thailand on their way home.

In my view Nintendo would serve its cause much better by following the lead of games publisher Valve, which has this excellent Steam service with a stack of games accessible by download only and locked into its platform.

When you consider Valve’s regular sales and the fact that Steam automatically delivers updates and avoid the need to keep those game discs collecting dust on your shelf, many gamers I speak to agree it’s just easier to buy their PC games legally and economically on Steam than go through the hassle of browsing BitTorrent sites.

Nintendo has a similar service … but there are hardly any games on it, it’s annoying to use and you can’t store many games on your Wii or DS because of the miniscule storage space and no option for an expandable hard disk.

At the end of the day, all I’m saying, Nintendo, is that the law and order thing is fine … but maybe your princess is in another castle?

Image credit: Nintendo


  1. If you don’t aggressively go after these people, if you’re “soft” on piracy, then it grows. And public opinion becomes that “They don’t care”.

    Same is true for all the kids who used to (and still) fansub anime. It’s totally illegal. But because Japanese companies didn’t worry about fansubing in the US as long as the IP wasn’t going to be released there, suddenly the companies that DID enforce their copywrites became “greedy companies” and “Worth boycotting”.

    Buy their products. Support the products. Or don’t. But don’t give pirates your hard earned money. Give it to developers.

    And as far as Steam, there’s a lot more piracy going on online than there is in the console market…. because it’s easier to do.

  2. @Renai & @Fungyo – there are huges differences between the Sony case (2005) and the R4 case. The PS(1) mod chips circumvented region coding – whereas the DS has no region-coding. Circumventing region coding is legal in Australia – however circumventing TMPs or ACTPMs for any other reason is illegal (courtesy of our Free Trade Agreement with the USoA). Note that this law changed after the FTA in January 2007 – making it easier for Nintendo to prosecute than Sony (for many reasons – there were lots of changes around material form etc).

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