Dolphin is releasing its GameCube and Wii emulator on Steam

The project is scheduled to launch on Steam before the end of June.

Photo by Jessica Conditt / Engadget

Nintendo might be making it harder to play its older games on official hardware, but there are other options if you know where to look. One of them is about to be a lot easier to find: Dolphin, a popular emulator that runs most GameCube and Wii titles, will be launching on Steam later this year. Dolphin is already available for free, but launching on Steam could make using the emulator more straightforward on devices like the Steam Deck, where dropping to desktop mode and manually installing programs can be a little cumbersome.

That doesn't mean downloading Dolphin from the Steam store will give you instant access to classic Nintendo games, however. Dolphin's store page is quick to point out that the "app does not come with games. You must own an original copy of any game you want to use with Dolphin." If you've dabbled in retro game emulation at all, that should sound pretty familiar — emulating console games is a bit of a legal gray area.

That's probably why the Dolphin Steam page is reluctant to even identify what, exactly, it does — instead choosing to say it plays "classics from the Big N's cube-shaped and motion-controlled consoles." The emulator's website is a bit more explicit, specifically stating that "downloading commercial games is illegal" and encouraging users use homebrew tools to make backups of game discs they legally own.

Dolphin is expected to launch on Steam Early Access by the end of Q2 2023, with a full launch planned by the end of the year.