stardeew valley on anbernic console
Image via ConcernedApe and Anbernic

Fans are uncomfortable about Anbernic adding modern PC titles to its handhelds via a new software update

Some claim this could seriously damage the retro handheld community.

Anbernic, a Chinese company well known for building some of the best retro handhelds available, has released a firmware for its RG35XXH console that includes APKs for modern games that are still widely available on Steam free of charge for all users. Needless to say, fans aren’t happy about what this likely means.

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The firmware update includes games like Stardew Valley, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, Celeste, and Grand Theft Auto 3. It’s not so much the fact that these are likely pirated ROMs that bothers fans; it’s the fact that the company is just openly distributing them to its devices and doing so in such a blatant manner. These games are listed in the firmware’s patch notes, and fans are certain that at least one of the developers is going to lawyer up to come after the company or, more likely, the company making the software used to run them.

Stardew Valley mystery box
Screenshot by Destructoid

Retro handheld content creator Joey’s Retro Handhelds first raised concerns about this Anbernic update on Twitter. In his video on the subject, he explains how the developers of the games included in this update are more likely to go after PortMaster, the software used to run them, than Anbernic.

Anbernic is based in China, where copyright laws are much more difficult to enforce. That’s why game developers and other companies in the industry tend to go after the more tangible targets in countries where copyright cases are much more straightforward.

The thing is, a lot of fans didn’t even want this from Anbernic. Most use software from games they already own to create ports for their retro handhelds. User Bo is flabbergasted. “Yeah, this could get them in big trouble real quick. I just saw this update about 25 minutes ago on their YouTube channel, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t know what they’re thinking.”

Joey’s Retro Handhelds insists that PortMaster’s development team is against game piracy, and the software is designed to help users create PC ports of games they already own. I’ve been unable to verify the team’s stance on this, but that’s neither here nor there for most retro handheld fans. Their biggest concerns following this update are for the community at large. User The Tech Update expressed the potential problems everyone foresees perfectly. “Anbernic sticking it to the man. Would not be good for the retro gaming scene if developers crack down on them. How do you say watch out, be careful in Chinese?”

At the time of writing, Anbernic hasn’t addressed some fans’ concerns about these games being included in its software. It’s unlikely the company will unless legal action is taken, but as I’ve already pointed out, that will be incredibly tricky for any game developer. The only thing fans who don’t feel comfortable with these games being on their devices can do is simply avoid using them.

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Image of Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie Moorcroft-Sharp
Jamie is a Staff Writer on Destructoid who has been playing video games for the better part of the last three decades. He adores indie titles with unique and interesting mechanics and stories, but is also a sucker for big name franchises, especially if they happen to lean into the horror genre.