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Nintendo's surveillance operations against modders/hackers

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Crazy stuff right there.


"During the past 24 hours, various Twitter accounts (1,2) have been posting snippets from documents that were recently leaked from Nintendo. While there are numerous items of interest, the most shocking revelations involve Neimod, a hacker who several years ago developed exploits for the 3DS handheld console."






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Turn your 3DS into a fantastic surveillance machine!


Edit - seeing as how this thread hasn't had any replies other than that, perhaps I could ask the question - how do you feel about this situation, and the modding of consoles in general?


My opinion for what it's worth:  A work colleague was talking to me about video games and he said that he likes the Gameboy games and perfers them to current stuff.  He said he loved the DS with an R4 card and that he loved having a collection of games effectively built into the console. He's now on a 3DS XL and I mentioned about the modding scene and he didn't know anything about it. 


I think that just about sums up the Nintendo situation with modding.  The DS R4 was a real issue for the industry because the R4 cards were so easy to use and piracy went up above the line and became mainstream.  Mums and Dads were getting these cards from sellers on Amazon because they were better value for money.  Other mods have a barrier to entry (downloading from advert filled sites, putting files into folders, etc) but the DS didn't.  However, the DS was also the biggest selling console of all time, and you have to wonder how many people bought the DS precisely because piracy was so easy on it.  I worked at Game during the PS1 chipping phase and there was a shop in the town that actively promoted a console chipping service and games at £5 each.  It was so blatant that when trading standards came to call the public was outraged that they would have to pay £40 for their games again.


But that's all in the past.  It's easy to forget that the vast majority of people are not tech savvy, and following a guide online to install Nintendo Bootstrap9 and the Twilight Menu for Homebrew, sounds like white noise to most people.  The work colleague uses computers all day in work and would easily be able to follow a guide to mod their 3DS but they haven't because they don't read these things online and only got into DS piracy because everyone else was doing it and you could buy the kit from Amazon.  For most people they surely don't get past the first line that says, "Warning, this may brick your console, do not continue unless you are completely sure you know what you are doing". Even dragging and dropping files into specific places, creating a CIA from a ROM file, installing things in God Mode, it's all alien to many people. 


Anyway, for me, rightly or wrongly, I've always believed there are people who just like piracy for whatever reason.  It seems to be about not actually playing games but just being a pirate.  I think the people who pirate don't count towards lost sales because they were never going to buy the game in the first place, and probably don't care enough to play the game to completion.  Just getting it before everyone else and having a 5 minute shot before moving on seems to be enough for those people.


For me personally, I have modded pretty much every machine I own, but it always comes after the main event.  I dont't want to mod current consoles and I use modding for retro, not piracy.  My 3DS XL is now home to a collection of GBA games I loved, now on a much better screen.  I have the patched Castlevania COTM which improves the game loads.  But I factory reset my modded Switch and it's stock retail again because it's my current machine - I modded it to see what it could do, but changed it back because it's current.  I *could* pirate Switch games but I don't want to.  I never modded anything past the Xbox OG, and still have my retail spec 360s, PS3 , PS4, Xbox One etc.  But piracy on a 3DS seems such a petty thing to go after because it's an old, dead format now.  It's easy to say retro emulation IS piracy, but come on, where can I buy any of these games anyway apart from seconds hand? Who loses out if I play COTM on my 3DS?


Apart from the Switch I have never modded any "current" console.  I think the industry should do what they already do when they lock down the console hardware, because they don't want to repeat the PS1 and DS era where piracy was as popular as the legit option.  I got fed up with the number of kids that would ask the price of a game then say, "is that on chip, or on real" as if that was a thing.  The firmwares and security on the current console, even ones hacked wide open like the unpatched Switch is enough to deter the mass market, and that's great.  Those that have the will to softmod their current console are surely not the customers Nintendo want, they probably only bought the Switch because it was moddable.


But once the console manufacturer stops the manufacture, why do they care?  Sony recently released a firmware update for the Vita, a console they ditched years ago - whats the point?  

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11 hours ago, phresh said:

I would imagine that having been absolutely fucked on the DS with R4 cards etc. they may have been a bit over zealous here. All looks a bit shady still.


I don't know about whether the proliferation of flashcarts significantly hurt the DS. They definitely didn't hurt console sales and the DS had a software attachment rate far greater than Nintendo's other handheld consoles. Itprintsmoney.gif


As far as Nintendo employing private investigators to stalk prominent 3DS hackers during the early life of the machine - I don't really see the controversy. Any corporate power which sees potential and significant threats to future income streams will do this kind of thing as standard measure. It's just perhaps jarring to have clear proof of this kind of activity for once.


Personally though I'm a huge advocate of hacking / jailbreaking any device worth it being done to and feel strongly that you own your device and should be able to do as you please with it. Wanna pirate every damn game out there for some reason even though you know you'll never enjoy 99% of them? Whatever floats your boat; those illicit files don't represent lost sales and theft of files from a corporation really shouldn't be frowned upon as much as it is.

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On 28/12/2020 at 06:28, alex3d said:

As a tech newbie I find it extremely, extremely fascinating what modders are able to do. The PS2 hack via modified memory cards? Gdemu? Cloud gaming on Switch? Engineering-wise this is so fascinating. I'm pro modding.


Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang, who first cracked the Xbox protection wrote a pretty incredible book on the steps he went through. It's a great read for anyone even mildly interested in hardware hacking (and currently free in ebook format here

https://nostarch.com/xboxfree )


The main take away is that, for a certain subset of extraordinarily talented people, tinkering and finding exploits is just part of the game. And the depths these people go to, such as literally sanding down microchips and examining them by electron microscope, or developing custom hardware to log electronic pulses as they move across the board... is astonishing. 


Bunnie ended up being recruited by Microsoft to try and help them improve their next generation of security. But it's interesting the way MS has gone on the latest Series S, which seems to be to give developers a separate sandbox within the architecture. This allows people the freedom to tinker with the hardware programmatically with very few restrictions, and hopefully alleviates some of the desire for these people to start picking away at the hardware security.


Linus did a little video explaining it recently here. The whole thing is probably worth a watch, given it covers how to add emulators to Xbox Series S, but the discussion on 'why' starts around 7 minutes in



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