Nintendo Switch emulators that have seemingly sprung-up following the successful launch of the company's new console are fakes, researchers at Syantec have warned, and downloads of the software will do little more than infect users with a cornucopia of malware.
Research by security specialists at Symantec's anti-virus unit Norton indicates that scammers have been quick to take advantage of the popularity of the Nintendo Switch and, especially, the latest Zelda game.
"Over the last few weeks, scammers have been trying to dupe users into believing that a software emulator exists for the Nintendo Switch, the company's newest console that was released on March 3, 2017," explain the emergency response team of Norton staffers.
"A search for 'Nintendo Switch Emulator' on YouTube yields a variety of results, racking up tens of thousands of views (the most having over 76,000), while others have several hundred views. The content of the videos vary significantly.
"Some videos contain a step-by-step process showing how to visit a website, download a file, and play Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on a PC."
While the videos are convincing, many don't refer to the Switch emulator - which suggests that they are part of generic scam that is being re-used.
Anyone getting this far into the experience would then be presented with a form to fill out in order to download the fake emulator. In some cases, the form will not be a feature and people will instead just be shoved in the direction of a download. Norton says that whatever the route, the destination is the same.
"Whether it's survey scams or potentially unwanted applications, the YouTube videos and websites are likely driven by affiliate programs. The affiliate would be responsible for delivering a user to the website to fill out a survey, complete an offer, or download a file," it explained.
"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."
So, there are no Nintendo Switch emulators out there, and you shouldn't download stuff from shonky places unless you like spending hours de-lousing your PC. However, Norton claims that there is a decent Wii U emulator available called Cemu.
The company has some other advice for wannabe emulator players, though they may not like it.
"If you're looking to play emulated games on your personal computer, be wary of websites that ask you to fill out a survey to unlock content — that's a big red flag that you're being scammed. Do some additional research before you download and install any application on your computer," it says.
"And if you really want to play games for the Nintendo Switch, consider buying one instead."
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