back to article Wii U 'has been JAILBROKEN' via legacy games, say homebrewers

A squad of techies claim they've cracked Nintendo's anti-piracy defences in the Wii U days after the games console hit US shelves. The hack, the gaming equivalent of jail-breaking, allows home-made games, pirate copies of titles and other unauthorised software to run on the Wii U, according to The attack appears …


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  1. The BigYin

    Mixed feelings

    "The hack, the gaming equivalent of jail-breaking, allows home-made games"

    Awesome. I am all for this.

    "pirate copies of titles"

    Not so much this.

    "other unauthorised software to run on the Wii U"

    Awesome. I am all for this.

    One of the best techy things I ever did was jailbreak (softmod) my old xBox. Became a pretty nifty media front-end. Why companies just don't embrace hackability with the caveat "You break it, we ain't mending it!"

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Mixed feelings

      >Why companies just don't embrace hackability

      Because most consoles are sold at a loss and make back the $$$ in online subscriptions and licenses to games companies.

      People using their Xbox/Wii/PS3 as media players tro to play pong are costing Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony $$$ - which is the best reason for doing it !

      1. King Jack

        Re: Mixed feelings

        Then don't sell kit at a loss hoping to make money later. Stupid model. You sell something, then it is no longer yours. That is what selling means: You no longer have ownership.

        Maybe they should rent consoles to the public so everyone knows where they stand.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Mixed feelings

          Perhaps you should look up the term "loss leading". It's a known tactic, though this doesn't apply in Nintendo's case, as it against their policy to loss-lead. Still, it's in Nintendo's interests to lock down the Wii U as it helps to block the pirate market.

          1. Dave 15

            Loss leading is a risky model

            If you want to try it then you have to accept the risk.

            The question is, if you were to make the platform open and not locked down would you (a) sell more platforms in the first place - cutting production costs and maybe creating a profit, (b) with more platforms out there sell more games (especially if they were priced slightly better so you make $1 a million times instead of $10 100 times?

            PC manufacturers have been managing to ship product without preventing you adding your own software for years, and making a profit.

            Theres a lot to this drm stuff, its technically clever etc etc, but just because you can do something doesn't make it morally right, economically justified or good publicity to do it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mixed feelings @ Yet Another Anonymous coward

        The Xbox 360 and Wii were sold at a profit. The 1st generation of the PS3 was sold at a loss, the latter iteration were sold at a profit. The Wii U is being sold at a loss, but Nintendo have already said in an interview that they start making profit if the gamer buy just one game with the console.

        Now going back to the "I bought it therefore I own it argument". No one said that you can't own your hardware, just don't expect to be able to connect to networks or other devices once you modified them. This argument ably to cars as well, if you remove all the lights and doors from the car and also add weapons to it, then you are free to do so since it is yours after all. Just don't expect to be able to drive it on the main road after you did those modifications.

        There are certain conditions that must be met for a car to be drivable on the road, this same policy ably to the consoles as well: the console need a to be running the latest firmware to connect to the online service, everything else is fare game. While homebrew and adding other functionality to the console is well and good (ie. adding MKV support to the Xbox 360 and PS3), the side effect that lead to piracy can't be ignored.

        Note, even if your car is drivable on the main road, it doesn't mean that everyone will agree on letting it on their private property. And the last time I checked, gaming network networks are private properties.

        P.S. Yes, I did write "MKV" while trying to say that game piracy isn't good.

        1. Epobirs

          Re: Mixed feelings @ Yet Another Anonymous coward

          The Xbox 360 was NOT sold at a profit or even break-even at launch. It really didn't become profitable before attached software sales until the Slim model. That isn't factoring the RROD problem, which screwed up the business plan considerably over the original intent.

          An Xbox 360 sales wasn't nearly as big a squirt of red ink as the PS3 at launch but it did go down in the debit column. Sony had a ridiculously ambitious concept that had to be revised late in the design cycle to include a dedicated GPU rather than having multiple CELL chips being assigned graphics tasks at the coder's whim. On top of that, Sony want backward compatibility but didn't come up with a practical means to implement it.

          On the PS2, the chip that ran PS1 software also performed jobs like reading the controller input and a lot of other very necessary jobs. Thus it was well integrated into the PS2 and didn't add much cost for the portion that was solely needed for PS1 games. On the PS3 the PS2 support was entirely bolted on and completely separate from the PS3's operations, making it pure added cost to have the chips onboard to run PS2 games. If the original multiple CELL concept had survived they might have gone the emulation route and had only a one-time cost for developing the software rather than an added cost to every machine produced.

          Sony overcame those problems but it did mean it took a lot longer to start seeing some return on the staggeringly huge investment. Likewise, if Microsoft had only had their intended testing system ready when Xbox 360 production started, the RROD problem would have been detected and fixed far sooner, saving a huge amount of money and damage to the platform's reputation.

          Funny thing, Sony sells plenty of Blu-ray decks and a streaming video box that all handle MKV very ably. It feels redundant to have a Blu-ray deck in addition to my PS3 but it handles a bunch of stuff the consoles cannot, solely for lack of the software support. Apparently, the different divisions at Sony have different opinions on the issue.

  2. David Hicks

    My Wii is jailbroken

    Nintendo didn't seem to put anywhere near as much effort into stopping it as the other console makers, and I like that a lot.

    I could load the homebrew channel to run non-approved software. Some nice team or other made a homebrew browser (I suppose we'd call it an app store now). I could run an isoloader so that I could play the games I bought and ripped from a drive - far faster than the optical drive and no messing about with disks. I could rip games to play on Dolphin on my PC.

    I hope the U is fully broken before long, I might get one if I can do my own things with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: My Wii is jailbroken

      "I hope the U is fully broken before long, I might get one if I can do my own things with it."

      I'm guessing that's the plan, as how else would you sell a 2005-spec console in 2012???

      The Wii-U has trouble keeping up with Xbox360 games, let alone PS3 games.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: My Wii is jailbroken

        Ahh, Mr knowitall is back. (I wonder how he explains the success of the original DS and the Wii against more powerful hardware from the competition. That's right. Just like the Wii U, they offered a slightly different and new way of interacting with games, for which in all instances, other companies followed suit)

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: My Wii is jailbroken

      They gave up releasing updates for the Wii, the system was comprehensively owned anyway so it wouldn't have done much good. I suppose their reason was to not give warning about the bugs which will be fixed in Wii mode on the Wii U.

      Nintendo can silently push out system updates on the Wii U. Maybe when they finally sort out Wii mode bugs on the Wii U we'll see a massive new update for the Wii with about 50 new versions of the same OS (in the loosest possible term) yet again which finally locks down the system for anyone silly enough to hit 'update'.

  3. David Webb

    If Ninty has any sense they will have partitioned off the Wii side of things from the Wii-U so getting an exploit working on the Wii side would never lead to exploits in the Wii-U side. As it is, the Wii is so cheap these days you can just buy one for homebrew rather than take your Wii-U offline to prevent updates blocking your Wii homebrew.

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    If this is true

    Then I hope Nintendo have a patch in the works. 3rd parties don't like endemic piracy and if this facilitates it then it's likely the Wii U will descend rapidly into shovelware hell like its previous platforms. Nintendo really haven't done much online and people don't have games or content in the cloud either so there is less for people to lose if they do go the dark path and never return.

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: If this is true

      Piracy schmiracy. PC games cost less than console games which is unlikely to be the case if the cost of business was higher due to piracy.

      The main issue is people modifying game code (auto-aim bots etc) which spoils the fun for other players in online games.

      This is less of an issue for the casual gaming wii where multiplayer is often local.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: If this is true

        PC games cost less because they don't have the burden of royalties, certification and testing that console manufacturers impose to get a cut of every game. So a manufacturer gets more of the money and greater latitude in setting the price and support.

        Even so, it is not hard at all to see the impact piracy has had on PC gaming. Once upon a time PC games would occupy the full length of a wall in GAME or similar stores. These days you'd be lucky to see a rack and of those half will be shit like Sims / World of Warcraft expansion packs. Many titles only get ported to the PC as an afterthought. The hope for PC gaming is that the likes of Steam, Origin, Impulse etc. will restore some profitibility to the platform and this in turn might increase the number of new titles that the platform enjoys.

  5. h3

    Piracy is more likely to negatively affect the people making junk shovelware games.

    If something is genuinely really good it will make a boatload of money regardless of any other factors.

    (Even on the PC no-one makes demo's any more and so many games are total and utter garbage.)

    Release a demo if it is good you will make money if it sucks then you won't that is exactly how it should work.

    (Don't try underhanded tactics either like making the first few levels great and the rest of the game suck).

    I don't care at all about 3rd parties. (I care about Nintendo because without them things will stagnate very quckly).

    1. Andy ORourke

      So what should "they" do?

      "Don't try underhanded tactics either like making the first few levels great and the rest of the game suck"

      How many levels of awesomeness should "they" release for free? Personally if the 1st couple of levels are great then I'm probably willing to "invest" in the full game (admittedly after a couple of weeks when I can pick up a pre-owned copy!

    2. Steve the Cynic Silver badge


      "No-one makes demo's any more"...

      Yes, they do. Even pointless demos like the one for Rocksmith that still needed the 30 euro cable in order to be able to hear the guitar... (Not that I'm saying that Rocksmith is a bad game or anything. It isn't, not at all. I'm very happy that Ubisoft was able to get it released, even if I can't find out how they resolved the trademark dispute. It's just that a demo that requires a hardware purchase in order to be able to evaluate it does seem a little silly.)

      Red FAIL square for you, sorry.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      "Piracy is more likely to negatively affect the people making junk shovelware games."

      Sadly reality doesn't bear that statement out. The DS and the Wii turned into shovelware wastelands because of piracy. It's not hard to find companies who made statements to the effect that they simply didn't make money on these platforms and therefore they were resorting to smaller titles - shovelware. They could probably churn out 5 or 10 shovelware titles for the cost of one premium one. Just give it some some generic confusing name, e.g. Animalz Dance Party, Carnival Revolution etc., some pretty graphics on the back and it recoups its money from undiscerning grannies, parents and kids.

      And the same will happen to the Wii U unless it has some robust anti-piracy measures. Sony and Microsoft didn't crack down on modchips and custom firmware to be meanies, they did it to protect their investment. If the Wii U is cracked already and stays cracked, the platform will degenerate into shovelware in no time.

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