Ouya Tries To Dispel Fears That Nintendo Emulators Will Promote Piracy

Ouya Tries To Dispel Fears That Nintendo Emulators Will Promote Piracy

Yesterday, on the Ouya console forums, forum administrator Ed Krassenstein announced that several emulators will officially be available on or near the March 28 launch of the Android-based console. The additions of said emulators to the upcoming console have been in discussion since as early as July of last year. When released, these emulators can technically run classic Nintendo titles.

Wait, rewind. Is that something the creators of the moddable console can do? There’s some legal grey area here. The hope, I imagine, is that Ouya owners will be able to play SNES, NES, N64 and other older Nintendo titles (like potentially N-Gage games, according to the forum and this tweet) through legal means, aka the proper IP licensing, or that they can play homebrew games made for those platforms.

This isn’t necessarily new, as we’ve seen the Google Android store flooded with all sorts of emulators. But to have a representative of a rival console promote emulators for Nintendo’s tech — the kind of emulators that traditionally are associated with piracy as much as they might be with homebrew — is strange.

When I reached out to an Ouya representative to figure out exactly what the boundaries and legality of these emulators are, they had this to say:

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.

Here are those guidelines. But what happens when people start submitting games for those emulators? The response:

They would have to have a legitimate licence to the IP to submit content. Also the content would have to come in an .apk.

When asked to elaborate, I was told:

We only accept .apks – ROM’s won’t be available / accepted in the OUYA store.

It’s not clear if that .apk format requirement will effectively block users from figuring out a way to run pirated Nintendo games on the emulators. Especially when we’ve already seen the Ouya running an emulated game, likely not exactly legally.

In terms of Nintendo actually selling their games on the Ouya? Also not likely. I imagine Nintendo wouldn’t easily give up access to their games, especially when their own console is capable of running their classics. Of course, there are ways to use an emulator legally. Like submitting content through the proper checkpoints.

I reached out to Nintendo but haven’t heard back yet. I’ll update as soon as I do.

OUYA Tidbits: #2 – Many Emulators, Huge eBay Returns, Some Negativity [Ouya Forum via Ars Technica]


  • I can see a lot of people throwing this in the trash if it can’t run roms at all.

    I seriously want to know how good this runs XBMC. I’m hoping its a bit like raspberry pi, but with a bit more grunt.

    • It doesn’t say anywhere that it can’t run ROMs, it just says they won’t be available on the store! You will be able to easily transfer ROMs to the console, like any other console running an emulators.

        • Really no one is expecting this to run AAA+ titles, no one expects that from a $99 console. I see it as a platform to support beginner and experienced indie developers, with the added advantage of being able to run emulators, including a PS2 emulator…

    • I can attest that XBMC runs well on my dev unit. As you can upload whatever apks you want to the device, all this is a non issue. Regardless Boxer8 are allowing emulators on the store, users just need to supply there own roms via USB/ browser download.

  • Maybe I’m misunderstanding something but isn’t the draw-card of the Ouya that you can use any store, and download and run your own .apk files? Is this just a storefront issue and nothing to do with the micro-PC itself? If it isn’t then that means that the Ouya is locked down a lot more than they are saying it is.

    I’m foreseeing a lot of legal headaches for the team in the future, especially those in the vein of torrenting, hosting and illegal content linking (Where a site with a link to illegal content is as culpable as the site that is linked) law suits. Hopefully they at least have applied for DMCA safe harbour protection.

  • Bascially, they’re saying that the emulators being put on their store will not come with any ROMS. It doesn’t mean they can’t play them, they just have to be listed much the same as they’re listed on the Google Play store; as purely emulators with no included ROMS, the publisher is also not allowed to mention where ROMS can be obtained.

    I purchased a GBA emulator off of the Google Play Store, and it plays ROMS just fine. I had to search for the ROMS and download them myself however.

  • Cost of OUYA console + existing 5 PS3 controllers controlling it… I’d say this console is already a winner.

  • Even though it’s a quad-core ARM, I doubt it will emulate anything over a N64/DS maybe 3DS but without the 3D screen/touch screen controls not much point.
    Still Nintendo are are still selling 15 year old games like ocarina of time at full price so it hurt their bottom line.

    • Full price for Ocarina of Time? It cost $60+ on release, sells for $10 now on Wii store, $40-$50 for 3DS version.

  • I had a feeling the Ouya would be facing some problems before and after release with what they were claiming

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