“Ironically, the 4D cartridges themselves have been subject to piracy”
the law. In Australia earlier this year, a website was fined AU$520,000 (¤358,257) for selling R4 cards. And earlier this month a court in the Netherlands ruled against online retailers who sold the cartridges and modification chips for the Wii, saying they infringed Nintendo’s intellectual property rights. Cartridge sales have also been banned in Japan.
While the rulings are all overseas and are unlikely to spell the end of the R4 completely, they might make it more difficult to get hold of them.
Ironically, the R4 cartridges themselves have been subject to piracy. The original R4 card has been discontinued, but there are plenty of clones and copies available online – and guides on how to spot the so-called counterfeits.
The argument for the R4 is that it’s not just for infringing Nintendo’s copyright. Similar to blank DVDs, the R4 can have legitimate uses, such as backing up legally bought games that players have already paid for, and reducing the number of game cards they needed to carry with them. It can also be used for “homebrew” games (unofficial software) or to store a licensed developer’s work-in-progress images.
That may all be true; still, it’s likely that most cartridge users have no idea how to back up a game, but plenty of ideas on how to download games for free.
Despite the crackdown on the R4 cartridges, getting free games may about to become even more tempting, with the speculation that the 3DS, Nintendo’s 3D handheld console, will lead to higher games costs.
However, 3D itself could be a saviour for the industry because 3D games are said to cut down on piracy. With Nintendo set to launch its own 3DS soon, the battle against pirates may shift a gear.