Microsoft’s Edge extensions store was hosting likely illegal copies of a number of iconic games, including Mario Kart 64, Super Mario Bros., Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Pac-Man, Tetris, Cut The Rope, and even Microsoft’s own smash hit Minecraft. The developers listed on the titles weren’t Microsoft, Nintendo, or any other recognizable game developer, meaning that they almost certainly aren’t official copies of the games.
In the hours since we published this story, all but one game we found has been removed. We had also seen another Sonic game, another Mario game, a couple of Pac-Man games, and a variety of copies of 2048, Flappy Bird, Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, but they aren’t available anymore. All that remains is what appears to be a copy of Google Chrome’s dinosaur game.
Initially, we saw 35 listings across 10 different “developers” with names like “GamePro Inc,” “Gamelands,” “StayReal” and “Kday,” including a number of duplicate games. Many listings, even from different developers, had very similar descriptions, indicating that they could be coming from the same source.
Here are screenshots of just a few of the games we found:
We didn’t see this purported tweet ourselves, and it isn’t currently on the @MSEdgeDev account right now. But one brave soul on Twitter, Jordan Chase, said he installed the Mario Kart 64 extension on Twitter — and he said that in a reply to a now-deleted tweet from @MSEdgeDev.
In his tweet, Chase said the Mario Kart 64 extension downloaded a ROM of the game. While emulators are generally legal, and some sites (like Internet Archive) host abandonware you can play in a browser, it’s extremely unlikely that Nintendo, which is well-known for cracking down on sites hosting ROMs and pirated content, would let people download copies of its most-loved games over free browser extensions.
The Mario Kart 64 extension downloads a ROM of the N64 game. pic.twitter.com/BY9VDMqp3B— Jordan Chase (@olynative) February 12, 2021
The Tetris extension also appeared to be a clone of the famous puzzle game, though it didn’t download a ROM, according to Chase. He also said he installed a Pac-Man extension, and it “seems like it’s using direct assets from the original game.” I didn’t install the games myself in case they were doing something nefarious, and I’d recommend against putting them on your machine.
Some of the games we found had reviews dating back to October, indicating they had been sitting unnoticed in Microsoft’s catalog for quite some time. It’s unclear why they were available for so long.
Many listings attempted to skirt trouble with dubious disclaimers acknowledging the listings aren’t affiliated with the original games. Here’s one we found on the listing for Mario Kart 64, for example:
IMPORTANT: This emulator is not affiliated with nor endorsed by Nintendo. All graphics, games, and other multimedia are copyrighted to their respective owners and authors. This game is for ALL Mario fans!
Microsoft and Nintendo tell The Verge they are looking into the situation.
Update February 13th, 11:23AM ET: Added that all but one of the games have been removed.