Update: Thu 5th Sep, 2019 17:25 BST: A Dark Room is now available again on the Switch eShop. Publisher Circle has confirmed the news via PR:
A Dark Room was removed from the eShop earlier in 2019 due to the presence of an unapproved ‘sandbox’ tool. As highlighted upon the game’s removal on 26th April, both CIRCLE and Amir Rajan apologise for this issue, and are grateful that following an update to the software it has now been readmitted to Nintendo’s platform.
Original Story: Mon 29th Apr, 2019 11:00 BST: It would appear that Nintendo has pulled a game from the Switch eShop after its developer revealed it contains a secret code editor. If you're looking for a way to ensure Nintendo never works with you again, we imagine this would do it.
The game in question is A Dark Room, a text-based adventure that launched on the Switch earlier this month. We shared more info about it just ahead of its launch if you're interested in learning more, but it essentially allowed you to experience a story through text and player interaction.
As it turns out, though, that wasn't all it could do. Amir Rajan, the man responsible for converting the game from its original form to the version that has seen a release on Switch and mobile devices, spoke about a hidden feature online. He explained that he had hidden a Ruby interpreter and code editor as an "Easter egg".
Ruby is a high-level programming language which would theoretically allow players to write and run their own custom apps on the Switch without having to perform any hacks. The apps would be tied to the game itself, and would only be able to run when loading up that game, but you can see why Nintendo would take issue with its implementation.
You can see a quick glimpse of the editor running in the game in the video below (which contains a little bit of bad language towards the end).
As you might expect, and as we mentioned above, the game is now nowhere to be seen on any version of the Switch eShop.
Speaking to Eurogamer since the game was removed, Rajan has opened up on events:
I deeply regret how this has blown up. A simple toy sandboxed environment has been framed as this massive exploit. And of course it's the community that exploits these things that pushed it up to that level. I'm partly to blame with my sensationalised media posts. I acted alone and stupidly. It was a last second 'spark of inspiration' and I snuck it in assuming that plugging in a USB keyboard and pressing the "~" key wasn't part of the test plan.
Having Circle deal with some of this cannon fire is not something I'd ever want. These past three days have been the worst days of my life. And I don't know what to say except I'm sorry, and all I wanted to do was allow kids (and coding adults that have forgotten the joy) to discover what I discovered 25 years ago.
Rajan adds that the episode has spiralled out of control due to the way it has been viewed online:
The narrative that has played out online is exactly what's wrong with this trashcan fire of a world.
Everyone is an armchair expert. Everyone thought the worst. You've seen that I've been called a dick, idiot, and everything in between. Because sensationalised news sells. If the narrative was 'I added a sandbox to A Dark Room that lets you mod the game and provide a medium for kids to code (and technical parents to show their kids what they do),' it would have gone unnoticed.
Eurogamer has also reached out to publisher Circle Entertainment, and was given the following statement:
A Dark Room was removed from the eShop on 26th April, and we learnt of the likely reason for its removal through the weekend.
We're liaising with Nintendo to clarify on the next steps and will deal with the matter accordingly; they are regretful circumstances and we apologise for the issue. We have always worked hard to carefully follow Nintendo's processes and terms throughout our history of publishing on DSiWare, 3DS eShop, Wii U eShop and Nintendo Switch eShop, and we're sorry that there has evidently been an issue with this title.
Until we clarify the next steps with Nintendo we can't offer any further comment.