Over the weekend, video game media site Kotaku ran a story that we will not link to here. In that story, they not only called out the emulation of Metroid Dread, a three-day-old game, but also pointed readers to how to emulate the game. So, we at Lords Of Gaming thought we would say what should be blatantly obvious. Unlicensed ROM emulation and piracy are theft. Kotaku, by means of their story, have expressed support of the practice through their glorification of it in their article.
For the purposes of this piece, we take ’emulation’ to mean the unlicensed emulation of ROM images, not the emulator itself, which is perfectly legal.
Emulation is a Hobson’s Choice
Let us start with a somewhat unpopular opinion: No one is entitled to experience any form of media. You are not owed the ability to play a video game, listen to music, read a book, or watch a movie. Instead, you provide an exchange in order to have the right to experience it, namely you buy it. By pirating, emulating, or stealing, call it what you will, you are no longer compensating the creator of the artwork for their time, money, and effort.
People can throw out all sorts of arguments for why they steal, like “It’s too expensive.” Well, so is a Lamborghini. That doesn’t mean I can walk into a dealership and drive off with it.
“It’s too hard to find a legitimate copy.” Then guess what? You don’t get to play it. There is no moral high ground that you can take to justify piracy. It is no different than walking into a convenience store, taking the money, and walking out.
That game, that movie, that comic book – it’s not yours. It does not belong to you. You are violating the copyright of the rights holder. Now, if the copyright has lapsed then that is a different story. At that point, no one owns the content as its creators have abandoned it.
“Sekiro needs an easy mode.”
“I can’t believe X game isn’t on Game Pass.”
“Outer Wilds is only 10 hours long? If it was $30 I’d pay for it, but at $60 I’ll pirate it.”
“I can’t believe the new Scott Snyder book is exclusive to Substack.”
“I’m not going to buy Paramount+ just for Picard…”
The fandoms that we cover here, namely comics and video games, all too often have an air of entitlement. The things stated above have been repeated on Twitter and comments sections a thousand times in a thousand ways. They all boil down to one thing though. What I want is all that matters.
Every one of these is a choice the creators have made for what they feel is best for their product. That is their choice to make. The content, the vision, the experience is theirs as the creator, not yours as the consumer. If you find the value proposition doesn’t suit you, then there is an easy solution: Don’t experience it. Go to a different game. I guarantee you have some in your Steam library that you have not played. Go watch one of the 41 new Netflix shows that have launched since you started reading this article. Better yet, go get through the last three-hour episode of the Iron Lords Podcast. Or go visit our friend over at Hoeg Law who had an excellent video about this very subject.
Bottom line is that there is plenty for you to experience. Just pay for it. Reward the people whose work you want to experience for the effort they put into it. Sorry, Kotaku. You screwed up. Piracy, regardless of its form or justification, is both morally and materially wrong.