back to article Nintendo Wii hack opens door to homebrew games

Security researchers have hacked into a Nintendo Wii game console to run their own code in a move that makes it far easier to develop homebrew games for the popular gaming device. Up to now developers have only been able to write homebrew games for the Gamecube, not the Wii. That meant these homebrew games could be run on a …

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  1. Andrew Chalkley
    Paris Hilton

    Gamecude?

    Did that ever get released in Europe?

  2. Rob McDougall

    Sweet

    Can't wait to see what indie developers can do with this!

  3. bluesxman
    Flame

    RE: Sweet

    A decent method for playing media files from a network share, SD storage or USB connected mass storage device would be Job #1.

    And some online games.

    Nintendo, where in the heck are the on-line games?

    Oops, personal source of Wii annoyance revealed. Move along, nothing to see here.

  4. An ominous cow herd
    Coat

    "Jeux sans frontiéres"

    Sorry to be such a pedant...

    I'll get it, I'll get it...

  5. Anthony Chambers
    Thumb Up

    Gamecude

    Ha ha, I didn't spot that one!

  6. Michael Corkery

    hmmm

    I much prefer my Mintendo Wig to my old GameCude anyday

  7. Highlander

    Nintendo will not be happy

    This is one of the things that has held back the PSP software sales. Homebrew, aka copying games.

    It's all fine and well for people to talk about this as if it's some great thing allowing indie developers to develop for the console, but the reality is that this will open the door for a lot of pirated games. If that becomes widespread (as it did in the early days of PSP) then I can't see this being anything but bad news for Nintendo.

  8. Richard Hebert
    Happy

    Happy ?

    Shouldnt Nintendo be happy that people can actually

    use the hardware for their own games ?

    I mean .. anything that could boost the sales of hardware

    should be well seen in my book ..

    In fact .. why not let people make games and develop

    games ? Sell em to Nintendo if they think it's good enough for

    distribution .. give the guys credit and royalties ..

    In fact : when is the first " open " platform going to appear ?

    Would be fun for the consumer and game players to be able to use any game they want on their hardware..

  9. Paul Wain

    Linux

    Wiinux? Mind you using bash with the wiimotes could be interesting :)

  10. Morely Dotes

    @ Highlander and Richard Herbert

    "I can't see this being anything but bad news for Nintendo."

    Nintendo is the only console maker who sells the console at a profit; demand is higher than supply; and a flood of homebrew games are no threat to the established game publishers because the Wii doesn't have any facility for being carried about in a coat pocket and "squirting" content to other Wii consoles.

    "anything that could boost the sales of hardware should be well seen in my book"

    Nintendo isn't able to manufacture the consoles as fast as they can sell them, so while more demand might be seen as a good thing, it's largely like having 2 pints of beer and a single pint mug.

  11. Charlie

    When is the first " open " platform going to appear ?

    Playstation Net Yaroze anyone? :)

  12. Scott Butterworth
    Thumb Up

    RE: Nintendo will not be happy

    Too right. As I recall from my NES/SNES days Nintendo are very tight about who they let develop for their hardware and under what conditions -- one of the reasons they always had very average/sub-par 3rd party dev shop support.

    They won't be happy about this at all. Partially their own fault though: console makers should ALWAYS implement sufficient cryptography.

  13. alphaxion

    the first open platform?

    Um... been done before and is quite a long time ago now ;)

    And it's because of the open nature of the likes of the speccy and the commadore that britain was able to place itself at the top end of game production!

    Not to mention that the PC still could carry on the heritage left to it by the great machines of the past - just need someone to release a good development package that doesn't cost an arm and a leg and isn't as buggy as hell (virtools, I'm lookin at you!).

    Until then, console games will continue to struggle on for originality - dominated by the derivative run likes of EA - plus will remain pretty much closed off to all but the big developers and the PC gaming industry will wither and die.

  14. Marco

    Re: Nintendo will not be happy

    >>> It's all fine and well for people to talk about this as if it's some great thing allowing indie developers to develop for the console, but the reality is that this will open the door for a lot of pirated games. If that becomes widespread (as it did in the early days of PSP) then I can't see this being anything but bad news for Nintendo.

    Nintendo actually makes a profit on each unit sold, therefore they wouldn't suffer as badly as you think.

  15. rasputinsDog
    Paris Hilton

    Good or bad?

    I'm not sure if this is good or bad. If Nintendo makes a profit from the hardware it would certainly push hardware sells, but since they can't keep up with current demand any growth in demand would be a bad thing wouldn't it?

  16. ben edwards

    @hebert

    Nintendo Wii console sales are still higher than manufacturing output, so they hardly need help in that arena. Being hackable or not isn't going to sell 'more' right now since its a seller on its default merits.

    Only when the unit is sitting in massive piles in warehouses and on shelves will homebrew become a selling point, sanctioned or not.

  17. rentagas

    wake up nintendo

    Nintendo are in danger of so spectatcularly failing to meet customer demand that punters willing to buy legitimate software are forced to buy pirated stuff because the legit stuff is not available. I may well have to buy a £15 modchip (sold by Amazon!) so that my children's legitimate (US) wii game will play!

    Nintendo could preempt much of this demand by relaxing controls on reasonably purchased software ie allowing US games on UK consoles.

    Apple have seeen that if they try to impose unreasonable controls on the iphone there will be a revolt amongst purchasers to circumvent constraints.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    re : Open platform

    Richard Herbert asks : when is the first " open " platform going to appear ?

    I've got one. It's called a computer.

  19. Ralph Kruse
    Linux

    The Wii has been pirated a long time ago

    To respond to Highlander's comment:

    The Wii has been hacked for pirated games a long time ago. Modchips for the Wii were released nearly two months after the Wii was in the market. People have been copying Wii games for close to a year now. This new accomplishment only regards running homebrew software with full access to Wii hardware (something that current modchips cannot achieve), and hopefully open the door for a Linux distribution for the Wii.

  20. Neil
    Alert

    @Nintendo will not be happy

    > This is one of the things that has held back the

    > PSP software sales. Homebrew, aka copying games.

    Nonsense - the Nintendo DS has been hacked wide open for ages. £35 will buy you an R4DS cartridge and along with a microSD memory card you can play any DS ROM image easily found for download from the internet. This piracy situation hasn't in any way hampered DS game sales which far eclipse those of the PSP (that's not to say it hasn't lost Nintendo and the developers money however, because it has).

    Sluggish sales of PSP games has nothing to do with game copying which - unlike Nintendo - Sony has attempted to thwart with numerous security-related firmware releases (the DS isn't firmware upgradeable so once the stable door was open it couldn't be closed).

    No, the PSP suffers from poor game sales because the PSP games are generally poor and a lot less "fun" than those available for the DS. Given a choice, most people would choose the DS even though the PSP is technically the more advanced product. The DS, as with the Wii, is more innovative than the competition and this trumps technology with the consumers.

    BTW... I've owned both products and am a fanboy of neither.

  21. Alze
    Happy

    Homebrew=I dont just download

    I may be one of the few, but just because I can play Homebrew games on my PSP doesnt mean that I then dont go out and buy them. If something is good and worth buying,then I go out and get it. Better one download, a 'try out' then purchasing, rather than just buying it blindly.

    Also my coding skills are being resserected thanks to homebrew, surely I'm allowed to code on hardware i own.

  22. Alex
    Boffin

    nunchuck!

    Highlander:

    "If that becomes widespread (as it did in the early days of PSP)"

    The early days? PSP has been so hacked I can flash the firmware with the pandora's battery now.

    Anyway, I really need to play homebrews' and backups on my Wii; I destroy cd's all the time with my mad Wii nunchuck skillz. :\

  23. A J Stiles
    Linux

    Actually

    that should be "frontières", with a grave accent.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    Nintendo and security

    Well, imo, Nintendo has never been a strong supporter of security. Take the DS for instance. I have to leave my wireless router running with only WEP security because the DS doesn't do WPA. And apparently, unlike the PSP, it cannot be upgraded to do so.

    Generally, tho, this doesn't matter much as most modern routers allow you to configure access by MAC address instead of using WEP and WPA, but then it is a pain because you have to wait until no one is using the router before you can enter the MAC address and reboot the router to let the change take place. And oh, MAC addresses can be spoofed too.

  25. Allaun
    Flame

    Um....

    *quote* This is one of the things that has held back the PSP software sales. Homebrew, aka copying games.*quote*

    You have it bass ackwards, you can already run pirated games BEFORE this happened. In fact thats all you could do. This opens up the possibility of doing interesting things with the hardware. And to comment on the psp situation, I will NEVER buy a psp because you have to mod the firmware to make it remotely usable. I prefer the GP2X [ http://www.gp2x.com/ ] as a gaming platform because its open from the ground up. Want to play movies. Ok. Want to write software for it. Sure. Want to do something not envisioned by the devs? No freakin problem. DRM is for those that prefer to be sheep. Don't be sheeple.

  26. DrXym Silver badge

    Homebrew me arse

    Just like so-called PSP "homebrewers", any software hack for the Wii will be overwhelmingly used for software piracy. I don't know why anyone except the hackers pretends or thinks otherwise. Once the hack is cleaned up and becomes widely disseminated the Wii piracy scene is going to experience a hundred fold increase. It might even be serious enough to threaten the platform itself. After all, the Dreamcast was killed by piracy and it could happen again.

  27. Neil
    Boffin

    @Nintendo and security

    > Generally, tho, this doesn't matter much as

    > most modern routers allow you to configure

    > access by MAC address instead of using WEP

    > and WPA

    then

    > And oh, MAC addresses can be spoofed too.

    Woah!

    MAC filters as a valid security measure is one of the biggest myths going in the world of WiFi. MAC filters are utterly worthless. Your first statement which suggests that MAC filters are a suitable alternative to WPA and even WEP is so wrong it's breath-taking in it's stupidity! However your last statement confirms you know this to be the case anyway, so I'm not really sure why you suggested filters were a good thing to be honest.

    Don't use MAC filters, use proper security.

    Here endeth the sermon.

    One option for running a Nintendo DS is to buy a USB WiFi stick configured for WEP... plug this into a PC whenever you want to play the DS and disconnect it when finished. At all other times run your home WiFi network with WPA security. Not ideal but better than relying on WiFi myths. Yes it's a pain that the DS doesn't support WPA and updateable firmware, perhaps the lack of WPA is due to a horsepower issue as the hardware simply isn't up to it.

  28. Peter

    Killed by piracy

    Sure, just like the PC, the amiga and the atari st (probably the 3 easiest platforms to pirate software on) all died a death.

    Oh, hold on...

    And yes, if I can't control what my hardware is doing, it's not really my hardware is it. If it was a rental model I could understand, but ffs.

  29. Mage Silver badge

    GP2X open platform

    The latest version of GP2X got a touch screen upgrade. It has few native games, but can run DOS and SCUMDM and various emulators. It's so open that both Windows and Linux development environments are free downloads.

    It's a quite decent media player with optional TV/HiFi docking station too.

    The PC is the other open game platform with a choice of OSes to develop on/for.

  30. Mark Rendle
    Gates Halo

    RE: When is the first "open" platform going to appear?

    You mean Microsoft XNA Game Studio, a completely free package with which you can create games that run on both PC and Xbox 360.

    Oh look, it's a marketplace where MS aren't the bad guys.

  31. Jules

    Lots of legitimate uses.

    Hopefully this will lead to a full featured wii version of the datel freeloader region free disc. The current wii version only makes the gamecube mode region free.

    Ability to sign code should allow custom apps to be installed to the flash memory too - a fully fledged media streaming app is top of my list of wants.

    Unfortunately it will probably also result in no-modchip required "boot discs" for playing pirated games.

  32. Aubry Thonon
    Coat

    @ominous cow herd

    I'll see your pedant and raise you an obvious: your accent is around the wrong way, making the E grave (like the "a" in "rabies") rather than sharp (like the "e" in pedant).

    (an ex-francophone)

  33. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Linux

    We don't get fooled again .......

    "After all, the Dreamcast was killed by piracy and it could happen again."

    Not if SMARTer Pirates are in Control of Power Switching. Control the Rock Processing Switch and you are Backing AI WinWinner.

    There is of course always the Ultimate Adult Game for Nintendo to Virtualise with InterActivity ...... and Binary FeedBack. Seventh Heavens In Deed, indeed, for Base into all Global Communications HQ

    A Quick Flash Lesson for A Darling Gordon Brown, duly recorded as Posted.

  34. Christopher Boomer
    IT Angle

    Hacker Channel

    How long before we have to disable the network access because someone has developed a means of hacking your PC whilst you play tennis?

    These things are inside your firewall. The enemy within!

    PANIC! Run to the pills!

  35. Steve Mason
    Thumb Up

    @ Media Streaming

    Take a look at TVersity... easy download on your pc, works great streaming videos, music, and photos to the wii browser doing any transcoding to flash video format "on-the-fly" :)

  36. John Parker
    Happy

    Re: "Nintendo won't be happy"

    Of course they won't, however, it's been possible to play backup Wii DVD games for ages using WiiKey and other such modchips.

    All this means is that homebrew code can now be run. It hasn't contributed to any kind of piracy problem, as the Wii is already completely hack wrt. playing Wii and GC backups, using a modchip.

    So it is cool after all :)

  37. Simon Jackson
    Boffin

    More Homebrew

    like mark said, Microsoft has had XNA for the 360 out for almost 2 years now. Nintendo is following suit with WiiWare which looks like it could be the same with the exception that devs will be able to make money "off the bat", where MS is workign toards that at the mo.

    When WiiWare will surface is another matter.

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