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Nintendo clampdown on Wii modders begins

After a massive console launch such as that of the Nintendo Wii, the bustling community of modders is never far behind. Some tinker their machines for honest and genuine aesthetic means, but a small, damaging percentages use their knowledge to fuel the industry’s black market for pirated games. In its first step to clamp down on this illegal activity, Nintendo is shipping hard-to-mod Wiis in Japan, reports DailyTech.

Modchips for the Nintendo Wii began to appear just months after its release, so in a keen attempt to halt the business expanding further, Nintendo has revised the console’s hardware to make what were once simple modifications a lot more difficult.

According to a forum post on Hacken.cc, three pins used by current modchips to alter the console’s drive software are now physically cut, making modifications impossible for all but those with highly advanced skills and tools. So far the revisions have only been spotted in Wiis shipped to the land of the rising sun, although we’re sure that similar models will soon be winging their way to regions across the world in the ever-ongoing struggle against pirates.


Wiinja - just one of the Wii modchips currently available.

Just over a month ago Nintendo of Europe released a statement that warned gamers over modding their Nintendo Wiis. It read:

“Modification microchips (mod chips) circumvent the security embedded into Nintendo’s products. To install a mod chip into a Nintendo hardware system, it is necessary to dismantle the product and, in some instances, remove components.

The use of mod chips voids the manufacturer’s warranty. In addition, the installation of a mod chip can damage the functionality of a Nintendo console, sometimes rendering it incapable of repair.

“Mod chips have been adjudicated to be illegal in various countries around the world, including the Unites States, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Most European countries have also already adopted laws prohibiting the circumvention of technological measures for copyright protection. People caught installing or selling mod chips may be subject to criminal charges.”

To put the problem into some perspective, a Gamasutra report recently stated that pirated Wii games were being sold in China (a country where the videogame black market is rampant) for as little as $1.30 USD each. When you consider how much money both Nintendo and other developers lose in potential sales because of this, it isn’t difficult to see why they take the issue so seriously.

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