The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaked over a week before launch and sent Nintendo into a frenzy, with the company firing off copyright takedowns to Discord, Twitch, Twitter, and more. Now the game is officially out, but some pirates are still illegally downloading the game, and Nintendo is watching.
“Bruh wtf,” wrote one such player on the Switch Pirates subreddit. “Did Nintendo somehow find out? They know the exact means of how I did it too wtf.” The user, called RevolutionaryToe6738, shared a copy of a Digital Millennium Copyright Act notice sent to them by Comcast warning about the infringing activity. Notably, it also contained information on which Tears of the Kingdom file the player was pirating, where from, and how.
“Yea...most torrents for everything are tracked,” one commenter wrote as the thread blew up, referring to the intellectual property watchdog companies that attempt to record the internet addresses of torrent users on behalf of copyright holders. “Can I still play if I just disconnect from Wi-Fi or should I just do what they say and hope they don’t take action,” RevolutionaryToe6738 wrote back. Tears of the Kingdom’s massive popularity led to big lines outside of stores on launch day, and has apparently inspired newcomers to the world of internet piracy too. RevolutionaryToe6738 did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s not clear how many other Zelda pirates have received similar DMCA notices from their internet providers. (File torrenters who receive such warnings generally face no legal consequences, though a repeated offender may get dropped by their ISP.) Tears of the Kingdom has been fairly easy to buy legit copies of, thanks in part to an ongoing Nintendo Voucher program and a recent GameStop deal that reduced the price to just $20 for those trading games in.
In the lead-up to release, Nintendo’s attempt to squash leaks led it to be overzealous in some takedown requests, hitting Twitch channels and social media accounts that were simply re-sharing officially sanctioned preview images of the game. Nintendo even briefly hit its own Zelda Twitter accounts with a takedown notice.
The company’s also not been content to simply erase leaks and pirate game files from the internet. It recently subpoenaed Discord for the personal info of a user involved in spreading copies of the Tears of the Kingdom artbook and has been suing ROM sites for years, and winning.
Update 05/16/2023 2:30 p.m. ET: Added additional details about ISP DMCA complaints.