back to article Retailer warns anti-pirate 3DS firmware imminent

Hackers beware: Nintendo's next-gen handheld, the 3DS, is out of bounds. According to one online retailer, Nintendo is readying a firmware update that will brick the device completely should any dodgy tampering be detected. Japanese store Enterking alerted customers who wish to resell their console, that if any illegal …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But looking at their past performance....

    ... they've said this lots of times before (example: Wii says it'll stop working with unauthorised modifications at every firmware update) - Wiis modified in this way seem to continue to work...

    Until a credible source demonstrates it actually happening I doubt anyone so minded will believe it (or of course simply don't accept any firmware updates).

  2. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Hmm, and how long until criminal charges follow ?

    Such action would be a criminal offence in English law. Unless they could show that the user was made fully aware of the potential for this then the action would not be considered to be authorised by the owner of the computer - hence a criminal act under the Computer Misuse Act. But then they would also have to show that such a clause would be fair under the UTCCR regulations - and I think it would be hard to persuade any reasonable person that permanently rendering someone else's computer non-functional as a pre-requisite for installing a software update was reasonable.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Anyone willing to sue them for threatening to disable your legally acquired device?

    1. A J Stiles

      No need

      You don't need to sue them. Such an action -- if it was actually carried out -- would almost certainly constitute Criminal Damage under UK law, and/or an offence under the Misuse of Computers Act. Even just threatening to do it might well be a Public Order offence.

    2. The BigYin


      Why? Does the 3DS come with an "Other OS" option?

      1. P Zero

        Post your own message

        Even Sony hasn't disabled a console's entire function over the use of homebrew. Besides, as consoles get more complicated, there's more options as far as exploits to load custom content and then it's just a matter of time that the brick is reversed.

  4. Atonnis

    Good for them!

    Strangely enough I'm actually on Nintendo's side in this - and that's something I've only ever said once.

    If they brick a device that hasn't been abused then suitable compensation should be made, after all, it would only be fair.

    Having said that - this is a games device sold with the intended use of playing games sold for it, not a device for abusing with illegal goods.

    I am actually all for mods, adjustments, improvements, etc...but on this device I can't really see a need. It does what it does, if you want to use it for something else buy something else.

    1. P Zero

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      If I buy a device, then I should be able to do with it what I wish (firmware-wise and legitimate homebrew, at least). That said, Nintendo can block me from their online store and/or online gaming, but they will lose revenue stream doing that. That said, this is nowhere near as bad as the PS3 debacle, which had major features stripped in the name of security. At least you know where you stand on a new Nintendo console from the start.

    2. Jason Hall


      Who the hell cares if you can see a need or not?

      It is a piece of hardware legally bought by someone. It then belongs to them to do with as they please.

      1. Atonnis

        I the hell care...

        Seems I've been misunderstood, or you're all pushing me down a path that I'm not going down.

        Look, if you want to take your hardware and install something else on it that's fine. I agree that with the hardware you can do whatever you like. I reserve the right to install what I want on my PC or any other hardware I choose to. I fully support that.

        And no, it's not just a piece of hardware, it's software as well. It's time, effort and money on Nintendo's part.

        However, if you use the specific OS, software on the hardware under agreement with the company and then choose to circumvent said software and hardware for no valid reason other than stealing then it's a different matter.

        So yes, take your hardware, install a freely available version of Linux or other OS on it, add whatever drivers you need and then do what you want with it. That's good - I'm 100% behind that. That way Nintendo can't stop you from doing what you want and you take responsibility for your device.

        So despite how unpopular it may make me on these threads, I support a company's right to protect their systems and their revenues. If you don't like the rules on it then don't buy the product in the first place. Vote with your wallet, and if enough people agree and do the same then the company will have to change their ways!

        Personally, I don't like Nintendo. I don't like Apple either. I like systems where I can install what I want, when and where I want - so I don't give them my money.

  5. Nick L

    UK Fair use...

    Well, according to UK law, 'Producing a back up copy for personal use of a computer program', is considered fair dealing.

    So making a backup of a valuable (and easy to lose) cartridge is allowed, but Nintendo give no way of making such a backup. Hence the third party solutions: flash carts.

    As my son has a DS, I have bought a flash cart and I'd recommend them to any parent who has been through the joy of "have you seen my xyz game cartridge" repeatedly... We only put stuff on there that we've bought ourselves: same with the Wii with HBC and USB loader. He knows what's right and what's wrong on that front. The flash cart stays in, with all his (paid for) games on it, and the games sit on a shelf gathering dust but, most importantly, not being lost!

    Given that Nintendo is family friendly in its gaming approach, I'd be surprised if they pull this stunt. They must realise that this is what geek parents do?

    And it's not like a retailer would find it in their interest to misinform on this, is it? "What happens if you lose the cartridge? Buy another one... No way of backing them up, after all... That'll be another 30 quid for what you've already licensed to use, please."

    I sympathise with the piracy aspect, but the people who I know with flash carts use them responsibly. This would be daft, and is the perfect reason to tell my son that a 3DS isn't a good idea - thank for that!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Its still illegal to make a copy of any media in the UK (except video recordings on doovde or VCR or where you have been granted explicit permission).

      Also, I'd be far more worried about your sons eyesight with a 3DS...

      1. LuMan

        @cornz 1

        Not quite. Check the link: and look at Section 8 (Acts that are allowed), Bullet 8. It states: 'Producing a back up copy for personal use of a computer program.' Software falls under the 'Literary' Type Of Work, therefore it appears you can make a copy of a piece of [computer] software for personal use.

        TBH this makes sense. Despite the fact that nowadays media is a little more robust that floppy disks of old, when shelling out 40-odd quid for a game I'd like to be able to use a copy and not the original. Particularly when the only tangible thing I've got is a tiny bit of plastic about the size of a postage stamp!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          In principle

          you are correct, however, if there exists a mechanism to circumvent casual copying then that product is protected. You cant actually physically make a copy (how do you back up a blu-ray, or HDDVD for example) and i am quite aware of how to circumvent most protection but there in lies the problem. To make a copy you have to break the protection, at that point you have revoked your'e supposed right to make a legitimate back up.

          You can back up your windows disk as the copy protection is a serial number, the media is free from portection so CAN be legally copied...

          1. system

            RE: In principle

            Copy protection does not remove users legal rights to make a backup copy. If your reason for copying is legal, you can demand a workaround from the rights holder. If they don't provide one, you can file a complaint with the Secretary of State.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    3D or not

    the DS and all portable gaming devices for that matter can only be classed as a casual gaming platform. The price of games for these is massively over what I'd be prepared to pay anyway.

    I have a DS and bought a bootleg NES rom cartridge on holiday with about 300 classic nes games on it, hours of classic gaming for sure. I haven't bought any other games for it because they are all....... well...... either crap or too overpriced, but at least I bought the DS in the first place. Looks like I won't be doing that with the 3DS.

  7. Michael 10

    I heard it from a friend of a friend of mine

    "illegal customisation is detected"

    Well then, it's fortunate that DS/DSi flashcarts don't alter the console in any way, and simply trick the console into running it by signing it like it's a normal game.

    What's likely happened is the management of this store, heard from and accountant, who heard one of the techs talking about how nintendo will probably soon release a firmware that blocks the carts and renders them "unusable"

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a plague on you both

    Wow. Register readers so quick to rip off developers and their employers. Who'd have thought it.

    For a moment there I though I had staggered in to or similar.

    Companies bricking people's hardware - contemptible.

    People who want the fruits of other's labours for nothing - just as bad

    (and please spare us the absolute nonsense about "backups". You're fooling nobody but yourselves)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "It is a piece of hardware legally bought by someone. It then belongs to them to do with as they please."

    Utter nonsense. You can do with it as you please - as long as you don't break the law.

    A knife is legally bought - but you can't stab people with it.

    A car is legally bought - but you can't run people over it.

    A rather simplistic and puerile response. But in fairness, you started it.

    1. Gangsta


      "You can do with it as you please - as long as you don't break the law."

      Homebrew is not illegal.

      BOOM! Headshot

    2. Deano2099

      staying purile then

      Then along those lines:

      If stab someone with a knife, it still isn't legal for the Tesco shop assistant to come over and blunt it for you.

      If you run someone over, Ford don't come round and remove the car's engine.

      If people commit crimes, like stabbing, piracy, or vehicular manslaughter, there are methods in place to have them legally tried under the laws of the land. You don't get to just bypass the court and punish the criminal directly just because you can.

      Likewise if Nintendo want to sue or prosecute pirates they have my full support. But they can do it the same way everyone else has to.

      For those supporting this, get ready for a future where if you're caught speeding, Ford remotely disable your car so you have to buy a new one. What's that? You were rushing your pregnant wife to hospital? Tough.

  10. Tigra 07

    Bad Nintendo!

    I didn't realise the 3DS was made by Sony...

    The same stifling of innovation is killing their industry, Microsoft probably wouldn't have even sold half as many Kinnects if people hadn't been shown all the other uses you can have with it from a hack.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I stifle the innovation of the dodgy kids in my area by having a fairly decent fence in my garden and a really prickly hedge on the other side.

    A bit like sony.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Misinformation central!

    What everybody seems to be forgetting is that the hack ONLY enables you to play DS games from an R4 or similar cart. The reason for this is that these game copiers patch the ROM image at run-time, with their own version which changes the way the filesystem is accessed on the hardware.

    The hardware and firmware on the 3DS doesn't have to be changed. It just runs the R4 firmware as any normal DS/DSi does because the 3DS is supposed to provide perfect emulation for those systems.

    Actual 3DS games remain unhacked, and hopefully will remain so for quite some time. It would be nice if those at el Reg would mention this fact instead of going for tabloid sensationalism.

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