The Switch is the biggest hardware success for Nintendo in years, but the money it makes on the console is nothing compared with game sales. Naturally, Nintendo is quick to deploy its army of lawyers when someone threatens to undermine those sales. For example, if you’re running a ROM repository. Hacking collective Team-Xecuter is set to release a tool that can unlock the Switch to play homebrew and pirated games. Nintendo would very much like to stop that from happening, so it has filed a lawsuit.
You might know Team-Xecuter from its last major project, a USB dongle that can install the custom SX OS on Switch units from June 2018 and earlier. Those consoles have an older version of the Nvidia Tegra SoC with an exploitable flaw that Team-Xecuter and others have used to mod the software. Newer consoles have a patched chip that blocks such mods, but Team-Xecuter says its upcoming SX Core (standard Switch) and SX Lite (Switch Lite) kits will be able to get SX OS on even the upgraded models.
Unlike the USB dongle, the new kits require opening the console to solder in a small daughter board with its own SD card slot. Team-Xecuter has demoed the system a few times, and early testing and review units have already shipped out. The devices, which cost about $50, could go on sale in the coming weeks. Once installed, SX OS allows Switch owners to back up their content, play homebrew games, and yes, run pirated games.
Nintendo’s lawyers claim allowing the SX Core and SX Lite to go on sale would cause “astounding” damage to Nintendo’s business. The lawsuit points out the SX Core and SX Lite will make 35 million more Switch consoles hackable, which is in addition to the 20 million affected by the Tegra exploit. The community is divided on Team-Xecuter — while there are fans anxious to get the mod kits, others are uncomfortable with Team-Xecuter’s focus on piracy. Most teams creating mod tools for the Switch do so for the express purpose of backing up content and making homebrew games.
Pre-orders of the SX Core and SX Lite have been live at various retailers for weeks, but Nintendo seeks an injunction that will block any further sales. Nintendo also demands $2,500 in damages per sale, plus the seizure and destruction of all Team-Xecuter kits. No matter what happens, the genie is out of the bottle. Even if Nintendo stops Team-Xecuter, someone else will just clone the technology.
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