3DS exploited, hacker gains full kernel control

The 3DS has been on the market for nearly two years now, and the unthinkable has (allegedly) finally happened, and Nintendo is (presumably) less-than-thrilled. A handful of tricksy gamers have reportedly hacked their way into the 3DS operating system, making the handheld able to run custom code – including pirated games and homebrew software.

Nintendo 3DS in Aqua Blue

Nintendo 3DS

The system’s kernel was accessed through a save game exploit, something which the hackers report can be replicated with a commercially-available game card, although they’re refusing to announce just which titles work. Posts on online forums show at least two gamers – yellow8 and Neimod – messing around with the system and keeping very quiet on their methods, while a third – Xcution – is filming and recording homebrew tests.

While some gamers are rather pleased with this announcement, game developers are – in a word – not. Jools Watsham from Renegade Kid (Dementium: The Ward, Mutant Mudds) claims that the rampant piracy on the original DC “crippled” the retail market for the platform, directly affecting his game’s success.

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. We’ll never truly know why that was so, but many seem to believe that piracy had a lot to do with it.

A new blog post from the developer asks why these hackers don’t simply “become legit developers”, and threatens to drop Nintendo support for future games.

Some say that piracy leads to more game sales, claiming that it enables players to try before they buy. Bullshit. The percentage of people who will spend money on a game that they already got for free is surely very small – especially with so many “free” games already in the market. The line between what should/should not be free is getting very blurry.

Hacker Neimod observes that “With full kernel control, anything is possible,” but at this stage seems reluctant to open up the exploit to others, who will use the hack to load pirated software.

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