Earlier this month, rapper, record producer and all-around Renaissance man Soulja Boy entered the gaming sector by releasing his first two video game consoles. On Dec. 18, the erstwhile DeAndre Cortez Way made another console available for purchase. Featuring a form factor that will immediately be familiar to ‘90s gamers, the Retro SouljaBoy Mini boasts a 2” screen, a semi-transparent case and 508 built-in games. However, the system may not be on sale for long due to some major copyright issues.
The most obvious problem with the Retro Mini is that its design is strongly reminiscent of the one Nintendo used for its classic Game Boy Clear handheld. Moreover, while the games that come preloaded with the system are unlisted, its instruction booklet features characters from the “Super Mario Bros.” and “Metal Slug” franchises. As such, the Mini, like the other consoles sold through SouljaWatch.com, is likely a repacked Chinese emulator.
When It Comes to Violating Video Game Copyrights, Nintendon’t
Thus far, Soulja Boy’s attempts to break into the gaming market have been extremely problematic for several reasons. The most significant of which is that Nintendo does not take kindly to its copyrights being infringed upon. This past summer, the gaming giant made headlines by taking the unusual step of suing websites that hosted ROMs of some of its most iconic old-school games for millions of dollars.
In those cases, Nintendo stated a desire to recoup monies the ROM sites’ operators earned through advertising and donations. In Soulja Boy’s case, his business plan is apparently to profit directly from reselling a console that features a copyrighted design that is packed with copyrighted games. Consequently, it is not a surprise that the Japanese multinational has reportedly threatened to take legal action against the “Pretty Boy Swag” hitmaker.
Moreover, a review of the other electronics Soulja Boy currently offers on his site suggests that Nintendo won’t be the only major corporation to take him to court.
Soulja Boy’s Other Questionable Products
SouljaBoyWatch’s titular smart timepiece, which ships out from notoriously copyright-respecting nations China and Russia, bears an uncanny resemblance to the Apple Watch Series 1. Similarly, his signature wireless earbuds, the SouljaPods, have a not dissimilar look to Apple’s AirPods. Apple is also not fond of its products being bootlegged.
Moreover, on Dec. 15, the rapper announced the launch of the SouljaGame Fuze. Although the Fuze’s marketing copy mentions more than 200 global content partners, the system is virtually identical to this copyright-flouting Chinese console. As such, it’s possible that Fuze’s built-in “paragraph 76 games, starting 20 games shock” are, in fact, unlicensed ROMs.
What’s Next for the Soulja Boy?
Curiously, Soulja appears unconcerned about the potential copyright violation maelstrom he has seemingly wandered into. In a recent interview, he was pointedly questioned about allegations that he’s selling what are plainly rebranded Chinese emulators and responded, “Honestly, I just think that when you’re coming out with a new product you’re gonna be criticized.”
The “Turn My Swag On” performer has also expressed an interest in starting his own eSports team.
If Soulja Boy’s adventures in gaming don’t pan out, he might want to move into the smartphone arena. After all, he did conceive of the concept of haptic feedback that mimics the feeling of texture years before the technology was unveiled at CES.