Back in July, news broke that Nintendo had filed lawsuits against Jacob Mathias, the owner of the ROM-hosting sites LoveROMs.com and LoveRetro.co, as those sites had been hosting unauthorized Nintendo games for others to download and play through an emulator. Now, Mathias and his wife have been ordered to pay the gaming giant more than $12 million in damages.
A final judgment by United States District Court Judge Jennifer G. Zipps in a federal district court in Arizona has awarded Nintendo $12.23 million, with both parties responsible for paying their own legal fees.
According to TorrentFreak, Jacob Mathias and wife Cristian Mathias admitted that hosting the two websites “constituted direct and indirect copyright and trademark infringement, which caused Nintendo irreparable injury.” Furthermore, the two must relinquish all emulators and Nintendo games in their possession, and as requested in Nintendo’s original lawsuit filing, the rights to both websites will be transferred to Nintendo as well.
It’s not surprising that Nintendo would be this actively litigious regarding its older games. The company’s retro titles have been re-released countless times through programs like the Virtual Console and the Nintendo Switch Online service. Additionally, they can be purchased as part of the NES Classic and SNES Classic plug-and-play consoles, which have flown off the shelves since they were first introduced a few years ago.
Right now, the only way to play most NES games on the Nintendo Switch is to become a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber. The program gives members access to a vault of classic games with added online play, and it also provides users with cloud saves and the ability to play other games online. Prior to its introduction this fall, playing the Switch online didn’t require any sort of subscription fee, but the $20 yearly cost for the program is substantially lower than it is for both the Xbox and PlayStation.
Hackers have already figured out ways to mess with the Nintendo Switch’s software to allow it to accept different ROMs than the ones included with the program. This is unlikely to stop in the future, though the threat of paying millions of dollars to Nintendo may well give some hackers pause before they start tinkering.