News Article

The War on DS Piracy may be Hard to Win, but Iwata Optimistic with 3DS

Posted by Trevor Chan

What modern tools can be utilised for the latest member of the family?

Nintendo has always made efforts to combat the various forms of piracy its consoles has had to endure. From sales of illegal flash carts to the copying and distribution of retail games, individuals have been known to pay upwards of US$1.3 million should they get caught.

The company acknowledges the difficulty in trying to stay ahead of the game but admits it's not going to be easy to stamp it out completely. The Nintendo of Japan President, Satoru Iwata, has spoken about the measures that will be taken when the 3DS hits the market, and he reiterates the concerns he has about the scale of the problem. With regards to the DS, Iwata notes:

Piracy is a serious issue. Unfortunately, the piracy issue has reached a threshold where it is no longer easy for us to completely put a stop to now... Although we have made some progress, unfortunately, it's kind of like a game of "Whack-A-Mole" where you hit one over here and it pops up over there, and it has been a bumpy ride.

When speaking of the 3DS's security measures, he seems more optimistic in the ways Nintendo can cover itself.

On the Nintendo 3DS, when the new hardware is launched, various measures can be taken. So, we'll continue to take advantage of technological attempts. In the case of Nintendo DS, the pirates work to find ways to then overcome that and enable it, but we'll continue to try to do what we can to limit the amount of piracy that's going on.

What makes the 3DS so architecturally different to its predecessors? Are firmware updates enough? Will there be more focus on the digital distribution of games? We guess we'll find out in the coming months.


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User Comments (67)



Deviant_Mugen said:

Let's just hope Nintendo is able to make the 3DS in such a way that pirating is either more difficult or downright impossible (preferably the latter)...



TwilightV said:

So now you're dragging Tintin into this?! Them's fightin' words, Nintendo Life.
>: (



skywake said:

We already know the 3DS will have the ability to "push" updates. If that includes firmware then they already ahead of the Wii and DS.

Still, I don't think they can kill piracy.... short of an international law that allows monitoring of all online activity and prosecutes every attempt at bypassing copy-protection or distributing "illegal content". Let all hope THAT doesn't happen........

damn, spoke too soon



maka said:

Unfortunately they bump piracy and homebrew together which is a shame. They should be more open about who can develop for their platforms and focus on stopping people from distributing illegal copies of the games themselves.

Flashcarts are not really illegal and should not be.



Golgo said:

I fear that piracy will continue for as long as there are thieves in the world.



Sean007s said:

Well maybe Nintendo should use their brain's and not get owned by some random basement dweller.
Sony did it. And they did it damn good.
Nintendo needs to combat piracy in their next consoles/handhelds, because its gonna get very very bad. With the internet starting to become VERY VERY popular and same with video game consoles,more people will be searching for ways to get free games and trying to use cheats in online games.



Link-Hero said:

I do hope piracy will stop completely someday. Though it obviously will take quite awhile for that to happen (or even never).

It's not good for anyone. Do pirates even care of what they are doing to the consumers and developers? Companies big and small need the money to make games and without the money, they can’t make any more games. Us the consumers can’t play those games because the developers are losing or not making any money. So why steal the games (or any other product for that matter), when in the end we all suffer? If you can’t afford it, or too cheap to buy it, then don’t steal it.




wildMissingnoappered said:

Making your own origanil games is fine by me
but giving away games that NORMAL people have to PAY for

P.S virtual handheld and animal crossing 3DS foreva



HipsterDashie said:

Well of course the 3DS won't be popular with pirates. If they have an eye patch, how will the be able to experience the 3D effect?



metakirbyknight said:

@ wildMissingnoappered
@ everybodyelsewhowilllumpthemtogether

Oh no you didn't.
It amazes me that a lot of people on this site think homebrew and piracy are one in the same. Read this and understand how and what lengths these "HOMEBREW, HACKING HOBOS" went to prevent piracy. Making my own original games is fine, while how does a hobbyist do that? Seriously, other than homebrew, there is no answer. So, go enjoy your locked up prison of copy protection and closed development. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my freedom with my jailbroken iPhone, hacked Wii, DS Flashcart, and all my other many hacked devices.

No, I am NOT stealing games.



SKTTR said:

If you want homebrew go get a PC and learn C++, then start developing your own games.
Or go to and play free games there (at least they don't freeze and damage your Wii).
Playing DVD's on Wii? Yeah to shorten your disc drives lifespan, that's great you mastermind.
Don't pretend homebrew is so nice when you mostly run pirated games with it!



maka said:

Why play a silly flash game on a PC when I can play a good game on the DS? What's wrong with playing games like Powder, ZXDS, and many other good games that nice developers spent their time on and gave for free?

What's wrong with wanting to develop for a nice console like the DS or the Wii? I'll tell you: NOTHING.

If you can't believe that many people won't pirate games while still wanting to develop or play games/apps from people that make them available for free then I'd say you have a problem...

Playing DVDs on the Wii is not that great, but there's other stuff you can do with a hacked wii that has nothing to do with piracy and there are some great free games too



motang said:

The truth of the matter is (it's sad one) it's a cat and mouse game. Unfortunately there will never be a true piracy free device.



moosa said:

What makes you guys think that leaving all of that stuff open to homebrew isn't going to leave all of that equally open to piraters, thereby causing thousands and thousands of dollars worth of games to be illegally stolen and distributed, even people making a business out of selling them? I'm glad you enjoy homebrew. There's nothing wrong with that, and as a game design tinkerer myself I can absolutely appreciate it. But you can't honestly expect anyone to simply trust that people wont abuse the lack of security that you enjoy. Nobody can blame you for being evil just for participating in homebrew applications, but that doesn't give you any rights to have that kind of open security. What you're defending is the very reason all of this pirating exists, and if you would think about it more thoroughly, you'd realize that you really shouldn't be defending it at all (whether or not you like it).



logins4life said:

Weren't there talk about 3DS having the possibility to install games? If games are downloaded from an online store, it could pretty much mean the end of pirating on their next handheld (if digital distribution is all there is and no cartridges, which I doubt will happen btw).
This could very well be the anti-piracy measures nintendo is pondering on taking.



ZarroTsu said:

Here's how it works:

1. Nintendo implements strict hardware and software to thwart hacking and pirating

2. Hackers find a way around this barrier using exploits of great complexity, as a means of intelligent personal alteration, to try to help others, Nintendo included, in bettering the console experience.

2b. Pirates steal the hacker's shared exploit concepts/programs, and use it to hoax free games for themselves with very little hassle, compared to the work put into (1) and (2).

3. Nintendo acknowledges the faults in their security, and fixes it asap.

4. Return to step 1.

4b. Pirates throw a hissy fit.



ToastyYogurt said:

To get rid of piracy, Nintendo should remove a reason to hack the system (like Sony did with PS3's "Other OS") by making the online store like Apple's App Store by reducing the price and removing the ownership restrictions of the SDK and allowing people to make free games/apps. That way, almost anybody could make a game/app as long as they could buy the SDK and there would be no reason to hack the system to launch homebrew. And if the system isn't hacked, pirates (most of whom wait for a non-pirate to hack the system) won't be able to launch pirated games.



maka said:

Exactly. Nintendo should embrace the homebrew community and give a means of running/developing homebrew that doesn't open the system to piracy. Else, they're forcing people to hack their systems for legit uses and there's people that will take advantage of the hacks for illegitimate ones.

Problem is they don't want to open their systems to independent developers for some reason (I guess is money related... but who knows?). And as they can't give us a good reason why they do this they just ignore homebrew and lump it with piracy...



ToastyYogurt said:

@metakirbyknight: Well said. I hate when people think piracy and homebrew is the same thing, because the people that find the exploits to run the games they created didn't want that. They only wanted to make games for their favorite console, not allow some n00b to take that software, use it to run a game launching app, and use the app to run games that were downloaded from the internet illegally. Until I upgraded my Wii to 4.3(by accident...), I enjoyed playing homebrew games, using homebrew software and playing Super Mario War with my friends (good game btw), but I never, ever ran an emulator, a game-launcher, or anything of the sort. Because I have no legally-ripped ROMs to use them with, and downloading them would be illegal, no matter if I physically owned the game. I feel that that kind of thing is wrong and hurts game developers, and those developers should also find a way to make an anti-piracy scheme which detects whether the game is being run from a flashcart (in the case of DS) or a harddrive (in the case of Wii) and stop the game from running.



metakirbyknight said:

Nintendo, Apple and Microsoft need to wake up.
There was no piracy on the PS3 until Sony removed Other OS.
Console makers should adopt a repository system, where homebrew developers can set up their own repositories, that you can add to the App Store, Market, or whatever the heck the maker names it. The end-user has to type in the URL, so it's completely voluntary, and as soon as a repository starts hosting illegal content, it's honestly not that hard to get shut down. And if it really gets that bad, as much as I would hate to give Steve Jobs or Saturo Iwata this power, it could be blocked.
Remember, coders, such as myself, and hackers, such a bushing, can create content repositories, but pirates can not, as they have no skill.

Speaking as an iPhone app developer, I'd love to do something on Nintendo consoles, but there is no way in without a relationship. I'd do something on homebrew if it wouldn't ruin my chances later, if they do open it up.

Before official applications, comes homebrew. Where'd the App Store come from? Did you think it existed before Installer?

Oh, and I'm glad I'm not the only freedom-loving hacker on here. It makes me happy.



Hardy83 said:

Piracy and homebrew are always linked together because you need one to get to the other.
You don't JUST pirate a system without having homebrew. Which sucks because it just hurts those homebrewers are are making what I consider legitimate software for it. I think this would be remedied if Nintendo, as many people have already stated, eased up on who can make and what can be made on their digital stores.

This is where I think where Nintendo should use online. Pushing updates, and pushing checks on the system whenever the system is near a Wifi signal. Yeah, I think every 3DS should constantly check if the system has been modded and FORCE the person to update or remove the modded software or lose access to all online functions of the system and possibly more.

Course Nintendo needs to fix their pricing structure and reasons why people pirate in the first place. Cost of games (Hi DSiWare) and region access to games, i.e, bring more games over like Soma Bringer.



Axemblue said:

Other OS was removed because it was hacked, so saying adding in an other OS feature on nintendo consoles proves nothing. Infact, alot of hackers do it for the fun of it, not because they want to develop or pirate, simply because its their hobby.



metakirbyknight said:

I NEED to pirate to run homebrew? facepalm
Read 1984 by George Orwell, come back, and tell me that is still what you want.
Here's what happened in order.

  • geohotz finds hole in PS3
  • Sony removes Other OS from PS3 Slim
  • geohotz develops exploit
  • geohotz releases exploit
  • Sony removes Other OS from all PS3s
  • Air Force gets a bit upset

Sony removed it from the Slim first, did you honestly think they would have stopped there. They're Sony. They suck. They like control.

And, now we want to get rid of their hobby?



Ark said:

I don't condone piracy or anything, but it seems like numbers are exaggerated. Not everyone who pirates a game is a person who would purchase the game if piracy was not an option. The typical pirate would be some kid living in college, barely making enough cash and living on his Kraft dinner. Would he buy a bunch of DS games, despite barely making end's meat? Uh, no. Then there are the people who back up their games, and sometimes download the same game multiple times due to storage issues, malfunctions, etc. Or look at the parents who don't want to buy games for their kids so they buy a flashcart for their kid. The kid downloads a good 50-100 games. Would that parent have purchased half that many games for the kid? Yeah...NO.

Piracy certainly isn't right, but it's not exactly harming Nintendo to the extent people claim it is. You simply can't say every pirated download of something is a lost sale. Pokemon Platinum, THE most pirated games on the DS, is also the fastest selling DS game of all time. 23% of the game's total sales were pirated. Is that a lot of pirates? Not necessarily, when you consider all of the factors and reasoning behind these downloads. Look at New Super Mario Bros, it sold what, 20 million? 6% pirated the game.

Piracy really only becomes an issue when pirates are downloading over 40% of a game's sales. The PSP is in MUCH worse shape, considering pirates got nearly 80% of Disidia: Final Fantasy's sales. You'd think something that big would sell, but no. This is where piracy is actually worth investing in. A 50% piracy rate is almost semi-justifiable in the eyes of people backing up their games, but when you cross that, piracy is blatantly responsible.

I think Nintendo is wasting money trying to combat piracy via firmware updates and such. Instead, they should be pressing down on sites that allow the illegal distribution of ROMs/ISOs. While that wouldn't stop everyone because there are TONS of websites that allow users to freely pirate software, it would cut down the multitude of sales that Nintendo 'loses.' Make it hard for people to find places to download games, then a good chunk will not bother. It wouldn't be terrible to see some people hack their systems and void their warantees, then see their systems fail. It churns a profit bigger than several DS games, games which pirates don't feel like they should be paying for anyway.

With the 3DS, I'd like to see flashcarts be obsolete and custom firmware be the choice for hackers, so if the system dies that's more profit for the big N (although some pirates will target used systems).



Chunky_Droid said:

Yes! We're still killing it with pirate pictures

I'm all for the prevention of any forms of piracy. In all honesty, and homebrewers will lynch me for saying this. If I want to play their games, make it a free download to play on PC, I'm not interested in playing homebrew on my Nintendo consoles. If they really want to get their games on a Nintendo console, there's no reason they can't go the way of Team Meat and Farbs and have a free version available then get it picked up for WiiWare or DSiWare.



Axemblue said:

@metakirbyknight No, i dont want to get rid of their hobby, its just a matter of it being hacked despite other OS option being available, and that hacking cannot be stopped as easily as many seem to believe. There can also be homebrew without piracy, when bushing released his first wii hack, it set-up in a way that piracy was almost impossible to use on it, until nintendo blocked the hole. This forced bushing to release a hack through a bigger hole, big enough so that piracy could also get in. Ultimately, it was nintendos own fault for allowing piracy on the wii.



TKOWL said:

No matter what protection you put around devices, Pirates will always find a way in.



zionich said:

@ zss_shadow

Your logic is a little flawed from my prespective. First off, if ya cant afford it, by no means does that give ya the right to steal it in any way, shape, form or fashion. Regardless of it would have hurt a companies bottom line or not. Everyone doesnt have the right to take what they want, but they do have the right to earn what they want.

I love the idea of homebrewing, but unless it specifically states in the user agreement you can use this technology to run your own games with out Nintendos approval, you are still using it illegaly.



Ark said:

Of course people don't deserve to get DS/Wii/3DS software and stuff for free, I'm just saying the impact of piracy isn't quite on the colossal scale people seem to think it is, and that Nintendo should put a stop to it some other way than system updates.

And in response to your last comment, shouldn't people have the right to modify their systems to some extent (so long as it doesn't violate the laws of the country you live in)? We bought the product, it is ours; not Nintendo's. The user agreement thing they make you accept applies only to when you try to access the internet; there's no agreement otherwise methinks.



TwilightV said:

From what i've read, the "End User License Agreement" applies to everyone from the moment they power on their systems.

While I agree that using homebrew for the purpose of creating games and sharing said games should be perfectly fine, I strongly disagree about the issue of piracy not affecting game sales. I've read thousands of comments from users stating stupid things like "Why buy it when I can just download it for free?". The fact is that even after several price drops, many games across all platforms are continuing to suffer from poor sales. It may not be the only factor in why games are selling poorly, but it is still a factor nonetheless and to ignore it would be a very foolish mistake for the gaming industry as a whole.



metakirbyknight said:

Breaking an EULA is not illegal.
It may be unethical to break it, depending on the person. And I don't break them, unless they interfere with my ethics.
I still think my repo idea is the best.



maka said:

User agreements can't go against the law either. They can't take away a right you already have.

If I sell you a car I can't say you can only use it on one road and even if I said it, you'd be free to use any road you'd want.

A console is nothing more than a computer with integrated controls and a screen (in the case of a handheld). If anything, I'd say the way they lock people out from developing is what's illegal, as they're trying to create a monopoly. BTW, the French courts seem to agree with this...

It'd be like computer makers blocking people form installing Linux or open source developing tools, or like computer makers shutting down freeware developers. It wouldn't be right, and it is not right in the case of consoles either...



TwilightV said:

Breaching the EULA (where there is contractual consense and not just giving the law again) is breach of contract. The act of breaching a contract is then considered as illegal as contracts are mutual agreements and should be respected and fulfilled by all parties involved.



TwilightV said:

The EULA is a software license agreement, which is a contract between the licensor and purchaser on the right to use software.



metakirbyknight said:

Read this.
Since a license gives permission, it cannot take such permissions away. So, even if it does, this is void.

BTW, are you a lawyer?



TwilightV said:

"Page not found"

Anyways, the agreement states that the right to a person's use of the product may be revoked if the person in any way violates the agreement.

As for that last question, no, but I sure tend to act like one in discussions like this, don't I?
*Insert nervously smiling Phoenix Wright here *



zionich said:

But if you violate the privliges that a drivers license gives you, it can be taken away.



SanderEvers said:

47: Yes, but ONLY by the proper authorities. I'm not seeing that it's the same here. Nintendo / * insert name of game publisher here * isn't a proper authority.

Also when the EULA isn't shown prior to the purchase of the device it's not legit in Europe at all.



jbrodack said:

EULA are not standard contracts and you usually don't see them until after you bought it. Breaking them usually just makes you lose warranty and any support.

Anyway, piracy of new games is always bad but homebrew is definitely something different. To those that say just play pc games wouldn't you like to play some of those games on your tv? Computer companies usually don't have the same problem of working with hackers that say Nintendo has. Hackers are the ones who end up knowing the hardware better than anyone and if they didn't fight them most hackers would try to stop piracy. The pirates usually aren't the innovators and just take what people with more knowledge do.

I use homebrew and open systems whenever I can. I own a gp2x which is an open handheld console and have a linux and android mobile device called a smartq V5. I like being able to run anything I want on my devices or at least having some real choice and having some free options. If nintendo embraced homebrew to some extent with limited acess to the system and stopped region locking there would be much less reason to hack the system and pirates wouldn't even know what to do to pirate games.



moosa said:

You people are making the (extremely) common mistake of confusing what you want with what's right.



SanderEvers said:

@52: In Europe you can't lose the warranty by breaking an EULA. A company is required to give you at least 2 years of warranty.

They can, however, ban you from the online service, and you may lose your support.

@53: So is Nintendo.



zionich said:

How is Nintendo, the creator of the device, confusing what they want with what is right. They designed, developed and distributed the hardware with the intent of making money. Now if a homebrewer sells what they make, Nintendo see's none of the profits even though its on there device.

I think the simple fact is pirates defend what they do because games are to expensive, yet there part of the reason. They just wanna test the game and if they like it they "might" buy it, thats what renting or borrowing from a friend is for. My favorite was a friends kid had cousins that wouldnt share there games, which spoke more about the kids parents to me. So he pirated a bunch for his kid. I guess its better to teach our kids to steal to get what they want.

And it seems the people that use or create home brews feel like they have the right to do what they want with a piece of hardware after they purchase it regardless of any EULA.

Now different countries have different enforcement of rules, thats all fine and such. Nintendo should ban there devices from that region if they were that worried about it.

I just respect a person more that says, "Ya i know im doing somthing I shouldnt be, but I dont care and will do it anyways" as opposed to making outrageous justifications.

At the same time, I dont think it would kill Nintendo to just punish the guilty and find a way to work with the legit people that are using home brews responsibly.



Betagam7 said:

It's good that Nintendo is starting to come to terms with the fact that tackling piracy in its current authoritarian manner is only ever going to be counter productive.
A fresher better approach would be for the company to encourage pride in ownership. Look how many collectors there are out there who own hundreds of games and would never dream of counting ROMS as part of their prized collection. Sites like Backloggery are now becoming more and more commonly used and again, reflect a growing interest in actually owning games. There are surely similar ways that Nintendo can encourage people to take pride in their physical or digital collection; perfecting its own emulation of digital offerings on the VC would be a good start, as would offering incentives to download these over mere ROMS.



maka said:

The thing is, the problem is not only piracy. Piracy is the one problem they can get most people to sympathize with, but there are other problems that might be as big for game publishers.

First, there's the second hand market. You have to realize this is just as big a problem for publishers as piracy. To them it doesn't matter if you get a game for free or if you pay someone else for a copy. They get the same amount of money for that copy: zero

The only reason this is not talked about more is because no one else will accept this as a problem. They're solving this by using download services and might eliminate it completely if we ever reach a point where all game consoles use download as the main way to buy games.

The second problem is discounts. Publishers not only want you to buy their games new, htey want you to buy them as close to release as possible. Even though some titles seem to have a much longer lifespan (Mario Kart, etc...) most profit comes from selling the game when it's released. After a short while the price gets discounted and profits dwindle.

That's why we see so many pre-order bonuses to encourage people to spend the most possible money on a given title.



SanderEvers said:

First, there's the second hand market. You have to realize this is just as big a problem for publishers as piracy. To them it doesn't matter if you get a game for free or if you pay someone else for a copy. They get the same amount of money for that copy: zero

In that case they got their money from the first buyer. Why should a publisher get paid TWICE for the same copy? NO ONE IN ANY OTHER BUSINESS IS PAID TWICE FOR THE SAME WORK! Like when I sell you a book. And after you read it, you sell it to your friend. Will I see any money from that second transfer? No. Should I? No. Why should a game publisher? He shouldn't!

How is Nintendo, the creator of the device, confusing what they want with what is right. They designed, developed and distributed the hardware with the intent of making money.

You answer your own question.



maka said:

@SandersEvers: Of course. And that's exactly why they won't get the sympathy from the general public about this issue. But each person that buys a second hand copy means a lost sell for the publisher, as it means many people got to play the game but only one payed the publisher.

The secondhand market is a very strong competition for publishers, and means a lot of lost sells that, if it didn't exist, would have gone to the publisher.

Again, the publisher wants your money. Anyway you get a game that doesn't pay them money is bad in their view. They can convince people of how unethical it is to pirate, but they can't convince people that buying a secondhand copy is unethical, even though to them both are as bad.



maka said:

Some interesting articles on the subject:

And as it can be seen, publishers are starting to fight against secondhand sales too... although I'm sure those measures will be very unpopular

Edit: And here's one from Nintendo saying "used games are not in the consumer's best interest", yeah right

Just like they try to convince us homebrew is not in the consumer's best interest... Good tactic, instead of admiting they don't like it and it's bad for their business they try to convince us it's bad for us



Betagam7 said:

Most hilarious of all was Reggie making the following absurd statement:

"Describe another form of entertainment that has a vibrant used goods market. Used books have never taken off. You don't see businesses selling used music CDs or used DVDs"




jbrodack said:

Homebrewers don't sell what they make. The people who made the homebrew channel are very against anyone making any money off of it and consider anything like that a scam.

People have been hacking devices, consoles, and computers for years and there is nothing wrong with that. There is both a lot of knowledge and practical application to be gained from that.

One positive step towards hacker acceptance I see from nintendo is letting the Retro City Rampage game on wiiware. It started out as a genuine NES homebrew that would have been mostly played on an emulator. Its these kinds of enthusiasts that keep retro gaming alive.

Not every programmer can get there game on wiiware as nintendo has a lot of requirements for that. Some programmers would just like to see a simple idea of theirs on their favorite home console but don't want to go through the trouble of making a commercial game.

At least in america I blame gamestop for a lot of the gaming industry's problems.



theblackdragon said:

(a) homebrewers use flashcarts to run homebrew on DS/i systems.
(b) the 'site that [you] don't use' is straight-up pirating.

other than that, i don't really know where you were going with that comment...?



R-L-A-George said:

Isn't selling flashcarts just as bad, selling homebrew.....That pirate site, I ran into, I don't know how to report it...I was just clarifying that I'm not a pirate.



maka said:

Selling flashcarts is just like selling CD-R or DVD-R drives. They let you put files into your console. Whether those files are legal or not, that's your decision... just like using CD-Rs or DVD-R drives to pirate movies, computer games/programs or movies instead of legal freeware, your own stuff or stuff that's freely available (legally).



R-L-A-George said:

Then why is Nintendo trying so hard.....Usually CDR and flash drives are certified.....Flashcarts are not Nintendo certified, I wish nintendo would stop whining, make carts themselves and shut the piracy sites.

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