Nintendo’s deal with major online merchant sites to stop selling R4 chips has done little to dampen the rampant piracy of games on the company’s handheld console.
R4 chips can go into a Nintendo DS cartridge slot and allows illegally downloaded games to be played on the portable gaming device. In May 2009, eBay and Amazon agreed to change their user policy to prevent the modified chips being sold on their respective websites.
But Nintendo Australia managing director, Rose Lappin, said the arrangement hasn’t made much impact on the games piracy front.
The company has seen a steady decline in DS game sales since the introduction of R4s and with the two big online players out of the picture, smaller online retailers are trying to cash in on the modified chips.
“It hasn’t really reduced [the sale of R4s],” Lappin said. “In fact, we have seen the upswing of R4s, particularly in Australia.”
The DS range of handhelds, including the standard DS, DS Lite and DSi, has collectively sold over 100 million units worldwide. The popularity of the devices makes it an attractive target market for modified gaming chips imported to Australia.
Nintendo recently took RSJ IT Solutions, now called GearCentro, to the Federal Court where the IT accessories online merchant was ordered to cough up half a million dollars in damages for selling R4s on its retail website. The gaming corporation had sent out cease and desist letter to RSJ which were allegedly ignored.
Numerous cease and desist letters from Nintendo have been distributed to online retailers and while the company has no immediate plans for further litigation, it will continue to pursue parties that ignore the notifications.
“We do the right thing by sending out cease and desist letters and the last thing we need to do is spend all the time and money we’ve spent recently on legal cases,” Lappin said. “It is only if people persist in doing the wrong thing and sell illegal goods infringing our copyright, we will take action.
“We have been fighting piracy for 20 years and we are not prepared to lay down and allow it to happen because the cost is too great.”
Lappin noted third-party game developers such as Ubisoft, Activision and Sega, have also reported a sharp drop in DS sales.
There are no immediate plans to pursue individuals who own or have purchased an R4.
“We’re really trying to quash the sale of them and we’re not aware of any individual that have gone out to say they have bought one or have gone online to show it with all the games on it and so on,” Lappin said. “At this stage, we’re trying to go for the source and stop people from selling the chips."
The outcome against RSJ marks the second legal victory for Nintendo this year. Earlier this month, Queensland man, James Burt, was convicted of uploading a copy of the Nintendo Wii game, Super Mario Bros. on the Internet. He has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in damages.