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Hackers crack the Nintendo 3DS opening its doors to pirated software

The honeymoon is over for the Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo handheld’s greatest success to date hasn’t been turning around its sales performance after needing a massive price cut six months after its 2011 launch. Where the 3DS has soared compared it the original DS is in its blocking of piracy. Developers abandoned the Nintendo DS even though the device is the best selling video game hardware in history because of rampant piracy through R4 flash carts and other devices that worked around the device’s security. The Nintendo 3DS has been safe to date, but now the handheld has been hacked, opening the door for pirate software.

It all started on Dec. 16 when console hacker Yellows8 posted images online of a Nintendo 3DS displaying a screen reading, “We hacked it!” The 3DS in question was running the most recent firmware released by Nintendo which the company has said is the most secure to date. At the time, the hacked 3DS could only display text and members of the 3DS homebrew community believed the exploitable aspects of the 3DS’ firmware could be fixed immediately with another patch at Nintendo.

On Sunday, though, homebrewers showed that they’ve already made significant progress with the device, posting images of homemade code producing images on both of the 3DS’ screens. While many celebrated the cracking of Nintendo 3DS because it would allow the device to run homemade software as well as allow players to work around regional restrictions to play import games, others noted that this means the Nintendo 3DS would be vulnerable to the same piracy that plagued its predecessor.

“Piracy on the Nintendo DS crippled the DS retail market, especially in Europe,” said Renegade Kid’s Jools Watsham. Watsham created 3DS eShop title Mutant Mudds as well as DS shooters like Dementium and Moon. “We’ll never know how/if Dementium II landed in as many hands as the first game, Dementium: The Ward due to the rampant piracy at the time. Dementium: The Ward sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide, which is a great success for an original mature-rated title on the DS. Recorded sales of Dementium II are less than half that.”

“If piracy gets bad on the 3DS, we will have no choice but to stop supporting the platform with new games. Some say that piracy leads to more game sales, claiming that it enables players to try before they buy. Bullshit… If these hackers really want to mess with the guts of a 3DS, why not become legit developers for it and let the world enjoy their talents?”

Nintendo declared the 3DS piracy free in September with the release of firmware version 4.4.0-10U. “While some acts of piracy are still possible in its DS-compatibility mode, as we had to ensure that the Nintendo DS software could still be played on the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo 3DS itself still maintains a robust security system, even after this much time has passed since its launch.” Now the company has to go back to the drawing board.