In the last month, the 4 most popular sites for downloading game ROMs from classic arcade games, to console and handheld games have been shut down due to either threats from Nintendo or even million-dollar lawsuits in some cases. The majority of Romsites that remain online have removed their collection of Nintendo ROMs for fear of litigation from Nintendo and possibly other game companies in the future.
It would seem that the emulation community is under attack, which is probably long-overdue from the perspective of giant companies like Nintendo, but many would make the case that what is being provided, for the most part by such websites is a way to prevent the ultimate loss of games that are not being profited from and risk being lost forever due to original harware that can play them being lost to the ravages of time and deterioration and a phenomenon know as "bit rot".
Certain classic games ARE currently seeing a new wave of profit generation for companies like Nintendo, Sega and Atari with classic, miniature console "reboot" packages that include dozens of games and are playable on modern televisions (NES Classic, SNES Classic, Atari Flashback, AtGames Sega Genesis Flashback, etc). It is in the wake of these releases that Nintendo is eager to stop the online proliferation of their intellectual property in the form of game ROMs that can be played on PCs or other hardware with the use of emulators, which could cut in to their profits from sales of their classic console reboots, since every game on the NES Classic is playable on PC-based emulators like JNES or NEStopia along with the ROMs, which are now harder to find.
While being able to play these games on Nintendo's new console reboots with controllers identical to the original hardware is wonderful, there are still hundreds of NES games that are not included and many, if not most of which, will never be included in such packages and may indeed be lost to time if not for the efforts of game pirates to keep the digital data alive.
The main irony in Nintendo's pursuit of ROMsites is the undeniable fact that the version of Super Mario Bros., which is found on the NES Classic rebooted console has been examined by hackers after inspecting the innards of an NES Classic and the header of the ROM file reveals that this particular Super Mario Bros. game ROM is identical to the original dump of the ROM released on the internet in the late 1990s, which shows it was configured for play on the original NES emulator, iNes. Yes, the NES Classic console contains an emulator running ROMs downloaded "illegally" from the internet.
We have been asked, "Where does this leave Tybee Games customers, who have purchased multi-console systems that rely on such ROMs to play classic games?" The short answer is, we are at the same position we have always been. ROMs are still widely available on the internet, though not quite as easily accessible as they were a year ago, in the form of ROMsites, torrents, P2P networks and other methods. It will take a while for all of it to disappear. Given our unique vantage point on this matter, with profiles on several gaming forums and social media groups, we are given constant updates on the state of the online gaming community and always have the lates information for our customers or at least quick access to it.
We have also been asked, "How does this affect Tybee Games directly?" The short answer to that is not really at all, since all we are offering for sale is hardware. How our customers use that hardware is up to them and doesn't really impact our production of the hardware. The harware packages we offer are assembled using components that anyone can get and paired in a way that makes sense for the applications of retro gaming. Providing the retro games is not our mission, but providing the best hardware for it IS our mission and we hope to continue it for a long time.
~Cheers and Happy Gaming!
~Dennis Robinson, Tybee Games Design Engineer.
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