22-year-old designer explains how he leaked a fake Nintendo NX controller

Last week, a photo emerged on Reddit from a user called “Idriss2Dev” that would cause the Internet, Nintendo fans and skeptics alike, to fall to their knees at Nintendo’s precarious reliance on gimmicky hardware to move units. Not only did the “leaked” gamepad, allegedly for Nintendo’s next console, codenamed the NX, look like a step down from the Wii U, the images we saw would potentially alienate console gamers by giving them no other option than to use an input method they universally despise: touch controls.

Not even a week later, more photos were taken and uploaded to popular image sharing site Imgur, using a Samsung Galaxy handset, of a similar contraption. This one, however, appeared with a black matte coating, a pair of prototypical stickers you might expect from a developer unit, and some conveniently concealed areas that might have otherwise given away its deceit.

“I guess it could stand as a reminder to people that you can’t really believe these kind of leaks nowadays with the rise of 3D printing”

The early April Fools prank that took the gaming community by storm was contrived by Frank Sandqvist, the 22-year-old Finnish co-founder of CNC Design, laser cutting/3D CAD and design company he had started well into his teen years. Putting his skills to the test, Sandqvist’s primary objective was simply to “fool the Internet” into thinking it was real:

“When I saw that Photoshopped/rendered white fake, I thought it looked quite easy to reproduce, albeit with a switched-off display,” Sandqvist told Digital Trends in a conversation that took place over social media earlier today. “So that same night I started modeling it up in Autodesk Fusion 360. And I thought it would be interesting to see if I could fool the Internet. At the same time, I guess it could stand as a reminder to people that you can’t really believe these kind of leaks nowadays with the rise of 3D printing.”

And indeed he was right. All it took was a subscription to some 3D CAD software, a laser cutter, and a 3D printer to make it look real enough to convince the general populace and even a handful of reporters — including myself — that it was a component of an actual NX dev kit issued by Nintendo.

Sandqvist modestly explained that he “skimped” in a few areas that could have possibly given his secret away before taking care of that himself earlier today. Since the “device” itself was made entirely of plastic, with the exception of the display, the control sticks had to be spray-painted with Plasti Dip in order to pull off the illusion of a rubberized base.

In turn, the “analog nubs,” as Sandqvist calls them, were sanded down to appear more authentic. The results, however, were not quite perfect. In fact, one of the nubs had been sanded down a bit too much, exposing some of the shortcoming of the 3D print job.

Additionally, the sticker labeled “CONFIDENTIAL PROPERTY” located on the base of the device had provoked some apprehension, though the designer says he imagined “that was something that a game developer might actually stick on there.” Moreover, Sandqvist confessed that he wasn’t satisfied with the “uneven sanding” towards the bottom of the controller, but that “no one seemed to notice that, luckily.”

Taking inspiration directly from the white controller posted to Reddit a few days prior, Sandqvist said he opted for a black coating after realizing he had run completely dry on white resin for the 3D printer. Presumably, since he wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, there was no time to place an order for more. Nonetheless, he assumed “people might forgive the slight differences” anyway, especially considering Nintendo’s current console offerings are available in both white and black.

Combined, the entire operation took Sandqvist about 20 hours to complete. The CAD job only took around two hours of his time while the 3D printer was hard at work for a solid 14 consecutive hours (luckily, there’s no adult supervision required for 3D printers). Everything after that, including the acrylic “screen” and the similarly made “camera” took 4 – 5 hours total.

As far as the reactions the hoax garnered, Sandqvist admitted he hadn’t “laughed that much in a long time,” jesting that “the analysis on NeoGaf was gold!”

When asked about what kind of trouble he’s going to get himself into next, Sandqvist advised to “be on the lookout.”

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