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Monday, October 11, 2021

Kotaku Promoting Piracy of Just-Released Metroid Dread—and doubled down on it

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - They're big fans of cyberspace pirates.

If you follow any Nintendo marketing you'd know that on Friday they released both Metroid Dread (the first brand-new 2D Metroid game in almost two decades!) and the Nintendo Switch (OLED model). The latter is something that some journalists seem to despise, since they like to make up stories about other consoles that they'd rather have exist besides that one. Interestingly, mainstream videogame media outlet Kotaku not only apparently isn't one of those outlets, but they've also helped debunk some of those FAKE NEWS stories written by those other outlets. I've had a very negative opinion of Kotaku for many years, but perhaps they're becoming better over the past year or so...?

Which leads back to Metroid Dread and the answer to that question. Nintendo really, really wants you to buy Metroid Dread, unlike some of their other games that they release but then forget to market. Personally, I have more than enough to play already, and Metroid Dread isn't the kind of game I'd like to spend $60 on, especially when I'm used to playing its prequels at significantly lower prices on the Wii (U) Virtual Console. Still, in deciding not to purchase Metroid Dread, that also means I'm deciding not to play Metroid Dread. I'm not entitled to still play the game. That shouldn't be an astounding statement, but I figure I gotta go slow, because Kotaku seems to disagree. Their weekend editor, Zack Zwiezen, wrote and published this atrocious article headlined, Metroid Dread Is Already Running Great On Switch Emulators.

That article informs readers that popular Nintendo Switch emulators (Zwiezen namedrops two of them with instructions on downloading them) can play Metroid Dread. The emulator resources instruct people to look for a Metroid Dread ROM on their own in order to play it on their emulator. The article doesn't instruct people to purchase Metroid Dread, and in fact, advocates for people to steal the game in their opening and ending paragraphs, with quotes like,

“Hey, real quick: If you are a Nintendo lawyer or employee, just like... don’t read this. It was a silly mistake. Ignore this blog. You can go now. Okay, everyone else...”

“If you want to play the rest of the Metroid franchise and don’t want to shell out large amounts of money on old consoles and games, your best bet is also emulation. As is often the case, Nintendo (like most game publishers) is really bad about maintaining access to their past games outside of the few big sellers. Thank [G-d] for pirates, emulators, modders, and hackers.”

Metroid Dread Samus collapsed on the ground floor opening cutscene
Samus's position here is the state of the Metroid franchise that Kotaku desires.

Zwiezen knows exactly what he's doing. He claims, in another article he wrote earlier this year that he hyperlinked, that “old consoles and games” are the Nintendo Switch, Wii U and 3DS, which collectively allow you to play the entire mainline Metroid franchise with hardware less than ten years old. I own them. I was playing on my Wii U and 3DS just last night (though I wouldn't typically do that, but it coincidentally happened and not just so I could write this sentence in this article the next day). He actually wrote, “You are, right now, a quick Google search and a few files away from having hundreds of NES and SNES games available to play on whatever device you are using to read these words.”

That's piracy. It's illegal. He's on the side of the (cyber)Space Pirates. His argument is also morally and factually wrong, but that's not the end of the story.

A lot of people correctly pointed out that the Kotaku article is awful and unprofessional. Zwiezen therefore “updated the Metroid blog with guidance from an editor.” So what changed in this updated version?

He changed the headline to remove “great”; removed “you can play” from the sub-heading; removed the go-away warning paragraph to Nintendo employees and lawyers altogether; changed “you can play” Metroid Dread on “your computer, right now.” to “people are already able to play” Metroid Dread on their PCs; removed an embedded tweet from an emulator provider that contained a link to the emulator download. He added this brand-new paragraph with a sentiment that was non-existent on the original version, and then changed the direction of the article at the end to reflect a Nintendo-has-a-weak-console message:

“This raises huge issues for Nintendo, who are in the very unusual position of having a current-gen console that’s already so readily emulated on PC. Normally console emulation is a generation or two behind, meaning it’s a scene that rarely infringes on release-day sales. Of course, for those wanting to feel a more legitimate approach to such an action, purchasing the Switch game before doing any such emulation—while legally very dubious—at least feels more morally clear.”

Nintendo's huge issues aren't helped when the mainstream media is promoting that people pirate your new release, of course. And as I mentioned in my opening, Metroid Dread is the first brand-new 2D Metroid title in almost two decades. There might never be another one if people pirate it and don't legally purchase it.

Zwiezen (or his editor) concluded with an Update notice saying Kotaku never meant to imply that anyone should go illegally download this just-released game! Of course... Anyway, on Twitter Zwiezen maintained he didn't do anything wrong to begin with and that he's just a (good) reporter covering the news (on one of his pet topics that he chose to cover in a very particular way). I think his original intentions from the original version were quite clear, which is why his editor removed so much to try to save face but still standing by the point. Between shooing Nintendo lawyers, thanking pirates, and telling the reader that they, without purchasing their own Metroid Dread copy, can at that very moment play it (illegally) on their computer with these emulators and a quick search while linking readers directly to resources providing them with those things... the “intelligent adults” that Kotaku believes their readers are can quite clearly identify the article's purpose. And that's to promote and encourage piracy—against the best interests of the Metroid series. It's clear that Nintendo ought to never send Kotaku free review copies or accept their interview requests in the future. Though perhaps they'll get the games for free by other means.

To conclude: Zack Zweizen is an intellectual coward, a scumbag, and a parasite. Perhaps a newly discovered Z Parasite...? What new vaccine will be developed to rid the galaxy of this menace?

Ludwig had to make sure he properly spelled Zack Zweizen's name throughout the article. Three Zs, no Ss. Quite an unusual assortment of letters. You're welcome to try to provide a more charitable perspective on the Kotaku article in the comments section, though takes along the lines of “piracy isn't theft” will be mocked. KoopaTV does not encourage you to pirate Metroid Dread and believes that if you want to play it, you should play it on the hardware it was designed for. Would you like to see KoopaTV write an article about good game journalism instead of continually publishing articles about bad game journalists...? Examples are hard to find!

There is a totally legal way to play Metroid Dread for free... or at least part of it: the demo!
Zack Zwiezen proves he has no self-awareness in this article.
Later, Nintendo has blacklisted Kotaku from advanced game coverage.


  1. I'm glad I kept my Wii U. I got to experience Zero Mission and soon enough Fusion once I finish Super. MercuryStream did an excellent job with Samus Returns and have seem to have outdone themselves with Dread based on the raving reviews. The game will definitely be one of the game of the year contenders and will hopefully have enough sales to revitalize the franchise.

    Kotaku is probably just salty over declining views and decided to write up some controversial drivel in order to get those clicks. It's astonishing that the site is even still online. While some claim emulating older titles is acceptable for game preservation, they cannot make this case for a game that has just released on a modern console. It's not like the majority of those who own high end gaming PCs that are capable of running Switch games lack the funds of buying the game legally.

    1. How did you like the melee attack in Returns? I got used to it but I hated it at first. Just felt like the only way to kill things was with the melee, regular “bullets” wouldn’t cut it. Although I guess that’s kinda the point.
      Also, what part of super are you at?

      Emulation of a game just released 4 days ago is just completely ridiculous. I don’t care what the (kotaku) article says you know the actual emulation is going to be lagging up the wazoo. Honestly I’m beginning to wonder if these “media” sites just want to destroy Nintendo because they haven’t bent backwards for the latest drivel.

    2. I didn't really have any problems with the melee attack, but I thought it was slightly overused. As for Super, I stopped right before entering Tourian and finished the game tonight with a completion of 76%.

    3. Congrats on finishing it.

      As for media sites wanting to destroy Nintendo, it's a plausible theory.
      (KoopaTV doesn't wish to destroy Nintendo, however. ...Just their mascot.)

  2. My spicy take is that I'm frustrated this discourse delayed the inevitable "should games be hard without easy modes?" rehash that it's going to have this coming week. I generally don't think piracy is a huge issue based on my understanding of consumer habits (at least personally I'm an advocate of try-before-you-buy, although I do make a point of actually doing the latter for games I intend to spend time on), although I also don't really think it's effective retaliation against Nintendo for their more obvious missteps like copyright trolling creators of fangames. All in all I'm for whatever gets more people interested in some of Nintendo's less celebrated series like Metroid, although I'm still holding out for a new Wario platformer...

    1. Thanks for coming back to the KoopaTV comments section, Cthulhuigi!

      I think we can both agree that the Kotaku piece goes far beyond the try-before-you-buy idea. (And I don't think one really needs to do that for Metroid Dread anyway... it's a known quantity, really.)

      If more people are interested via piracy than sales then that's kinda useless interest.

    2. Thank YOU for keeping the best gaming news site going! And yeah, I think after the bizarre article they posted this week about Samus not showing enough emotion it's pretty clear they're just trying to get engagement from being controversial. I'm glad to see it seems like Dread has been selling well regardless, I'm on my third playthrough and really impressed with the improvements over Samus Returns.

    3. Yeah, they wanted her to smile more.

      I'm looking forward to seeing wot the official sales numbers end up being when Nintendo releases those soon.

  3. All I wanna know is what was that editor doing before the arrivals was released?? It’s almost as if the editor should be editing… a novel concept I know.

    1. I'm gonna assume you meant "article" before "arrivals"...
      Well, Z Parasite (much easier to write) IS an editor himself, so the apparently unanticipated negative reaction to the article must have caused a rather uncommon scenario where another editor was necessary.

  4. ...Just wow. Wtf, smh, stuff like those two acronyms just doesn't convey my disgusted bafflement at this.

    1. The media in this industry being garbage isn't just a phantom complaint by angry people. It's a genuine concept.

    2. In this industry? Even mainstream media is going to crap in numerous places.

    3. Well I see you as a relatively left-wing guy, and surveys suggest that ideology is currently highly correlated with faith and trust in the mainstream media.

      I've realised a long time ago there's an obvious pipeline from realising that the videogame industry media is garbage to figuring out the media in general news (and probably other industries too) is garbage (and often FAKE). Just didn't know how ready you were for that knowledge!


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