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Nintendo starts banning Switch hackers from online services

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Since the Nintendo Switch launched last March, the hacking community has diligently scoured for ways to exploit the system architecture to play homebrew games and ROMs. You may want to think twice before attempting to hack your Switch, though, as Nintendo appears to be issuing bans to users it catches hacking the console.

As reported by Nintendo Life, Shiny Quagsire, a dedicated Nintendo homebrew community member, recently received an error message when attempting to log on to the Switch’s online services. “The use of online services on this console is currently restricted by Nintendo,” the message read. Quagsire said the error message popped up on a Switch console that hadn’t been hacked, which signals that Nintendo applied the ban across multiple Switch consoles. While this may sound strange, bans of gaming online services are typically tied to names and usernames in order to stop users from simply buying a new console to avoid a ban.

The online services ban prohibits access to the eShop, playing online games, interacting with friends, and posting to social media. Interestingly, the news channel, which provides updates on new games, still works as expected, and banned consoles can still receive and download game updates and patches.

Quagsire contacted Nintendo about the ban but was unable to get it removed due to a violation of the End User Licensing Agreement.

While this is the first we’re hearing about Nintendo banning Switch users for hacking, it comes shortly after hackers discovered a major exploit in the Switch’s Nvidia Tegra chipset. The exploit opened up the door for running emulators such as Dolphin (GameCube and Wii), homebrew games and apps, and even Linux. Even worse for Nintendo is that the exploit is purportedly not patchable, meaning that Nintendo can’t secure it through an update. Essentially, the 15 million or so Switch consoles sold so far can all be hacked with a bit of patience and ingenuity.

It’s unlikely that Nintendo banning a few users will deter the homebrew and hacking communities for continuing to look for and expose Switch exploits. If the bans become a widespread trend, that might be a different story.

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Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
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