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Nintendo Scores Patent for Software Emulator: ROM Geeks Snicker, Smartphones Shrug

A new patent awarded to Nintendo essentially gives it legal rights to something others have done for ages.

If you're reading this, there's a good chance that you have at least some familiarity with video game emulators (which are legal), and ROMS (which are not quite legal). They've been around for years. But much like Columbus discovering America despite a presence of natives, Nintendo can now take credit for something that others had been doing for long time.

The Big N's been granted a patent for a "software emulator for emulating a handheld video game platform such as GAME BOY," according to U.S. Patent 8,157,654.

It's a bit ironic that Nintendo should be the owner of a software emulation patent, considering that it's been doing everything in its power to maintain the "hardware company" status quo. It's this very shift from dedicated video gaming hardware, to video-gaming-as-a-software-feature that has quite literally reversed the company's fortunes from a share price of $71 in October 2007 to around $17 today.

Unlike some of Nintendo's family-friendly titles, the battle between consoles and smartphones/tables is more and more becoming a zero-sum game, and it's difficult to imagine Nintendo, Sony, or Microsoft as the victors without a fundamental shift in strategy. With Windows Phone and Xbox Live, Microsoft seems best positioned to make the transition. Sony is hedging its bets with PlayStation Suite for Android devices.

And Nintendo? Nintendo now owns U.S. Patent 8,157,654, giving it the legal permission to become the next Sega.


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