Yuzu Shutdown Leads to Citra Closure
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Yuzu Shutdown Leads to Citra Closure, Upsetting Game Preservation Advocates

Nathan Lees
Nathan Lees

The recent discontinuation of the Nintendo Switch emulator Yuzu, followed by a similar decision regarding the Citra emulator for 3DS, has led to an outcry from gaming preservation advocates.

Citra, firstly introduced in 2014, was an emulator capable of simulating the 3DS software environment, receiving updates through February of this year. The same team responsible for Citra later developed Yuzu, an emulator for the Switch platform. However, the fallout from a legal dispute with Nintendo that resulted in a settlement of $2.4 million in damages and the end of Yuzu this week implied a subsequent end to Citra.

Commentators argue that the shutdown of these emulators strikes a damaging blow to game preservation efforts. While Yuzu may have been controversial for allowing the emulation of contemporary commercially available games, Citra provided emulation for games no longer available for purchase from Nintendo. With Nintendo's 3DS eShop having shut its doors in March 2023, lovers of classic titles have lost one of the few methods they had for playing these games legally.

Holly Nielsen, an historian with a focus on games and play, commented on the situation. As someone who accesses board games from the 1800s for her research, Nielsen remarks on X that obtaining games released just a few years back poses a greater challenge. She pointed out that a lack of physical limitations such as fire or flood damage made older, physical games more accessible than digital ones, emphasizing the critical role of emulators in the preservation of digital games.

Laura Kate Dale, an accessibility expert, also expressed her concern about the termination of the Citra emulator. In a post on X, Dale shared how Citra had made 3DS games more accessible for disabled players, facilitating play on larger screens and the use of alternative input devices. With the Nintendo 3DS eStore no longer in operation, she believes Citra did not cause harm to any business's bottom line and its absence means a potential loss of game access for disabled players.

Despite the arguments in favour of the existence of such emulators, it should be unequivocally stated that the distribution of copyrighted video game ROM images is still deemed illegal.

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