Here’s why Wii U emulator Cemu going open source is a big deal for emulation—and for the Steam Deck

On Tuesday, the creator of Wii U emulator Cemu announced a major 2.0 version release, introducing Linux builds for the first time and open sourcing eight years of work.

In 2017, Wii U emulator Cemu made history by pulling in thousands of dollars per month on Patreon to help fund development. Cemu’s high profile Patreon, which was briefly earning $25,000 at its peak, raised questions about the ethics of emulation, particularly when money is involved, and when a project is “closed source” instead of open source, meaning their source code isn’t publicly available. Closed source emulator development isn’t inherently wrong, but it can be controversial—one of the key ways the emulation community protects itself from lawsuits is by keeping its source code public, so litigious companies like Nintendo can study it and confirm that none of its proprietary code is used in the reverse-engineering process.

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