Nintendo has begun to quietly ban 3DS owners’ devices from online services if they’ve hacked or modded their handheld. The remotely activated bans are hardware specific, meaning they’re limited solely to the modded 3DS and not a NNID, so there’s no worry of losing one’s digital library across Wii U or Switch. Banned 3DS owners are reporting that modded devices that have not participated in any form of piracy are also being included in the banwave.
The effects of the ban are, again, platform specific. That means that only the banned 3DS will feature disconnected online services. Funnily enough, the Nintendo eShop will continue to work on these banned handhelds, as well as the Miiverse. Everything else, from online multiplayer in all games to services like YouTube and web browsers, is disabled. That’s likely no bother to offline game players and homebrewers, but that’s no recompense to modders who enjoyed online multiplayer.
While the reactionary response to this banwave is to say Nintendo’s directly attacking the modding community, it’s likely Nintendo’s goal lies somewhere else. If the ban focuses only on online services, then the goal must be related. While Nintendo hasn’t officially revealed the cause of the ban, it seems clear. This is perhaps the most effective way to prevent pirates from playing online multiplayer for free, and is also one of the best ways to prevent cheaters.
That the ban seems to be blanketed across as many modders as Nintendo could find is also telling. It shows that Nintendo’s either unwilling or unable to focus in their ban efforts on the specific offenders. If their tools are only able to report that a system has been modded, but they are aware that all cheaters and pirates must have modded their 3DS, then a straight ban on all modders is really Nintendo’s only course of action. It’s not fair to homebrewers, but it could be worse. Nintendo could likely have easily banned NNIDs too.
In the meantime, parts of the homebrewer community are discussing whether the banwave justifies any legal action based on a previous legal precedent set regarding iPhone soft-mods not breaking warranty. Others are considering how Nintendo managed to discover modders in the first place, believing it might be related to having SpotPass or the option to share data with Nintendo enabled. Nintendo is unlikely to comment on the banwave, but will likely continue to do similar banwaves in the future.
The New Nintendo 3DS XL is available now.