So-Called 'Free' Nintendo Switch Emulators Are Bogus And Threaten To Steal Your Data

The Nintendo Switch is one of the hottest items in tech these days, with the only other gadget that is as equally hard to find being its sibling — the NES Classic Edition. Although Nintendo has promised to double Switch production during the next fiscal year, finding a unit in stock online is a crapshoot and trying to score one at a brick and mortar retail establishment often means camping out the night before doors open.

With the hot new console being so hard to find, it is often tempting for people to take shortcuts to get their hands on some Nintendo Switch gaming goodness. Unfortunately, there are scammers out there that are banking on these people to fall into their traps. The security researchers over at Symantec are warning PC users about fake software floating around the internet that claim to be Nintendo Switch emulators for your PC. The offer seems enticing, but as Symantec states, it is simply too good to be true.

switch emulator

A quick trip over to YouTube shows one video entitled “Nintendo Switch Emulator for PC - Play Breath of the Wild on PC”, which has over 77,000 views. This bogus video walks you through going to the emulator website, downloading a .zip file and then running a .exe file within the archive that supposedly allows you to play Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Through some hackery, the YouTube video then shows footage from the game, hoping to trick people into thinking that downloading and running the emulator actually “works”.

These emulators are fake fake fake

But according to Symantec, downloading these files instead will inundate you with bogus survey scams, try to entice you to enter for a chance to win a free Nintendo Switch console and could potentially put your private information at risk. But of course, these scams are all about generating revenue via affiliate links from hapless gamers.

“The affiliate would be responsible for delivering a user to the website to fill out a survey, complete an offer, or download a file,” writes Symantec’s Satnam Narang. “For each successful conversion (a completed survey, offer, or download) the affiliate would collect a commission from the advertising network. In this case, it is unclear how much each affiliate is making for each conversion.”

Nintendo Switch Box

The bottom line here is to be vigilant and use some common sense. Given how hard that Nintendo has locked down the Switch, the chances of there being emulators this early after its release are slim to none. And downloading .zip files from sketchy websites should throw up an immediate red flag anyway.

If you are looking to get your hands on a Nintendo Switch, your best chances are to check online trackers like NowInStock or to keep an eye for announcements from retailers on when they will have new stock available.