Pokémon DP Sound Library Shutdown Reveals Nintendo’s Biggest Modern Flaw
In February, Nintendo announced that it will provide fans with a huge library of sound effects and music from Pokémon Diamond and pearl. Pokémon DP Sound Library, as it was called, was an unusual move by Nintendo that encouraged fans to use all available content in their projects – as long as it wasn’t commercial. But wait, why am I using the past tense? Well, just three months after Nintendo opened the doors to the library, it’s shutting down the entire project. That’s less surprising than the library’s original announcement, as the project’s closure cements Nintendo’s recent anti-fan stance.
The sound library was still out of character
The Sound Library closure notice was first spotted by Eurogamer. An announcement on the library’s website reads: “This service has been terminated effective May 31, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. UTC.“The site no longer allows users to stream or download content from the library.
The existence of the Pokémon DP sound library was a curiosity. Nintendo announced the project which contained 149 different tracks and sound effects from diamond and pearl. The library taken from the original 2006 version of the games and not from the most recent remakes: shiny pearl and brilliant diamond. A key feature was the “party track” which allowed a user to choose six tracks and create a playlist. It was a playful reference to the six-man system in the Pokémon games.
Most exciting, however, was the ability for users to download all library content for their use. Nintendo said all audio would be usable in non-commercial projects. This meant the tracks could be used as background music for plays, YouTube videos, and even allowed fans to choose a track and walk down the aisle to it.
Nintendo’s fight with fans
It’s worth noting that the original release of the library came just hours after Nintendo removed thousands of videos on YouTube that used music from its franchises. The videos were not monetized and sought to give fans access to the music, as apart from the rare official soundtrack, the music is difficult to enjoy legally.
The company is known among fans for its aggressive withdrawal from fan projects. Several homebrew games that use Pokemon and Zelda as a base were ordered to close subject to legal action. The most blatant insult to Nintendo concerns sites that host ROMs or illegal copies of video games. Sony even removed a fan-made Mario game inside its game dreams at Nintendo’s request.
Lack of access
A guideline hides under all these battles between fans and Nintendo. At the heart of it is the question of accessibility and the question of who should be able to use this content. Legally, Nintendo can do whatever it wants in the case of ROMs, fan projects, and videos with music from its games. Nintendo owns the property; therefore, it is legally justified to act against whatever they decide.
However, think about why fans go so far. Nintendo bullies them into making the content available to the public. Large swathes of Nintendo’s catalog are unplayable to modern audiences by legal methods. There are some options such as NES and SNES Classic. Not to mention, fans can always go out and buy an older system and a physical copy of the game they want to play, but rare games can fetch astronomical prices of up to $2 million. No one should have that much money to play their favorite game.
Most of these projects come from people who are very fond of Nintendo and want to preserve the company’s content so that others can enjoy it without any obstacles in their way. This month, Nintendo took steps to make it almost impossible to buy games from the 3DS and Wii U eShops. The value of games from two consoles is now inaccessible to the fan who wants to follow Nintendo’s rules.
It’s all about preservation, and if the Pokémon DP sound library is any indication, Nintendo’s legacy might be better in the hands of fans – they clearly care about the cultural significance of the content more than Nintendo.