Nintendo 3DS users lucky enough to secure a device since its Sunday release may want to stay away from pirated games.
There are rumors that Nintendo may be able to remotely render inoperable, or brick, the consoles of users who use unauthorized flash carts like the R4, which can run pirated games. With the console's Activity Log feature, Nintendo's 3DS can track which games users play and how long they play them. That, some claim, gives Nintendo the ability to monitor the consoles and target users it suspects of piracy.
The rumors arose when people started reading the sections of the 3DS' End User License Agreement (EULA), which hint at Nintendo's ability to remotely brick consoles.
After the Nintendo 3DS menu is updated, any existing or future unauthorized technical modification of the hardware or software of your Nintendo 3DS System, or the use of an unauthorized device in connection with your system, will render the system permanently unplayable, reads the EULA. Users who fail to upgrade their machines may end up with inoperable games and features, Nintendo says.
Nintendo was vague in its response to the rumors. We do not discuss product security details (for obvious reasons), nor can we discuss the details of countermeasures available in the Nintendo 3DS system, the company said earlier this month to Eurogamer.
Nintendo 3DS has the most up-to-date technology. The security has been designed to protect both the creative works in the software and to protect the Nintendo 3DS hardware system itself, read the statement.
Some users have pointed out however, that previous Nintendo consoles like the Wii and DS also featured much of the same language present in the 3DS' EULA.
Other console manufacturers have faced issues with users altering the functionality of its consoles. In its litigation against George Hotz, the hacker known as GeoHot, Sony Computer Entertainment of America claimed that, by jail breaking his PS3 and publishing the PS3's root keys, Hotz violated the company's copyright. Sony also claimed that Hotz violated the Playstation Network's Terms of Service by accessing the network using a jailbroken console.
But, according to some game company executives, Nintendo may be better prepared than other console manufacturers.
THQ Executive VP Ian Curran told Computer and Video Games last July that the technology behind Nintendo's anti-piracy efforts in the 3DS is both extensive and complex. Nintendo believes that the all-new anti-piracy tech in 3DS will be foolproof[sic] to cracks from illegal downloaders, he said, expressing his inability to explain the intricate system of checks Nintendo has created to thwart pirates.
Curran also spoke to the reason why Nintendo and the video game industry cares so much about piracy: It cuts into profits. It's going to probably cost us more to do it all in 3D-so we want to make sure we get a return on our investment when we do it, Curran said.
So far, however, no 3DS users have announced any issues using their 3DS consoles, though this is likely because Nintendo has yet to release any major updates for the device. The 3DS' first update won't happen until at least May, when Nintendo is expected to release an update adding the previously-announced eShop to the handheld.
Less than a day after the 3DS's February release in January, Japanese hackers had already modified the console to support R4 cards, which are illegal in Japan. While the hack did not extend to 3DS games, the group responsible for the modification said that they expected Nintendo to eventually release a firmware upgrade blocking the modification.