Wii cracked with no hardware mods

Victories are inevitable in the technology war between platform holder and hacker/pirate. No matter how clever the former are the latter will always catch up. This has always been so. Once a system is cracked the floodgates open as the word spreads on the interweb.

Now the Nintendo Wii is cracked, supposedly so it can become an open platform for homebrew. But what it means is that the pirates will exploit the same loophole so they can steal people’s work instead of paying for it. So the Wii will become even less worthwhile for third party publishers.

“The Twilight Hack is currently the only safe, public way to run homebrew on an unmodded Wii. The Twilight Hack is achieved by playing a hacked game save for The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess which executes a homebrew elf file, boot.elf, on an external SD card. Examples of such homebrew elf files can be found on the Homebrew apps page.”

This is a sad event for every game professional because their work will now be stolen, if they work for the Wii. But even if they don’t there will be less revenue coming into the industry and so less money for development salaries, which will impact on everyone. With the Nintendo DS, the Sony PSP and the PC (for boxed games) already owned by the pirates there are less and less ways for developers and publishers to make a living.

Perhaps the only saving grace is that the more casual audience, courted by Nintendo for the Wii, are less likely to have the incentive to steal than the more hardcore demographics of the two HD consoles.


  1. I don’t know about your assumption in the last paragraph, I can only speak for my own “casual” friend circles but it’s quite shocking to see how many of them consider pirating of practically everything (music, movies, comics) as generally accepted. Once they know how to acquire pirated games for the Wii their ethics will crumble just as fast I am afraid.

    I’d even say the most part of the hardcore gamer group is more willing to pay (extra) than a casual adience. Just look at the price points of the average PS3/Xbox360 game, that’s just an outrageous sum of money compared to what retailers ask for a Wii or a PC game.

  2. Bruce, you’re right about the casual demographic. However, not all core gamers are thieves! I reckon the most likely candidates for this will be students on a tight budget.

    Long standing Nintendo fans (notice I try not to use ‘fanboy’ because of the negative connotations attached to that term ) will still buy the ‘core’ software. Like they have been for years during the lean years of the N64 and GC.

  3. Good post.

    As both a commercial and occasional homebrew programmer, it does sadden me greatly that the work people do to enable homebrew (that is, legal games and applications) is subverted by those who wish to play commercial games without paying for them.

    I think it’s important to recognise the distinction between pirates and legitimate homebrew programmers and users.

    There are some really great programs out there, such as the wonderful “Colors!” paint application for Nintendo DS – http://www.collectingsmiles.com/colors/ – which would perhaps never see the light of day if it weren’t for legit homebrew.

  4. I don’t agree. Nintendo gives me great value, doesn’t treat me as a thief, and its prices are pretty decent. Plus, they give a lot of extras and WiiWare sounds really good, so I will keep supporting them despite the possibility to get the games for free.

    Piracy is only a problem when the publisher spits on you, wants to control how and when you play the games you bought, and keeps inflating the price with the excuse of piracy. 95% of the PC industry.

  5. To be honest the price of games is quite ridiculous anyway and it is fair enough for those people who can afford to pay large sums of money for a game which they would get bored of in a week or so which unfourtunatly happened with me quite a lot when i had a Wii. Zelda was a brilliant game and worth every penny, but when i am paying £40 – £45 for a game and to have it be worthless within a week… it’s a capitalist industry and although i’m buy my games and i don’t hack or anything, im glad there is someone ****ing them over.

  6. Am I right in thinking, though, that the Twilight Hack doesn’t work for playing copied discs yet? Just homebrew and VC/WiiWare?

    On the bright side, it is wonderful news for amateurs wanting to experiment with the Wii but who don’t have access to Nintendo’s SDK…

  7. I don’t like the piracy, but I’m all for homebrew. If it wasn’t for DS homebrew I wouldn’t have got my first games programming job.

  8. Lets play devils advocate here bruce, Maybe people are tired of the shovelware being shipped out as “games” and charging us 40.00+ for gmes that could not be released on the gamecube beacuse of quality.. For some reason Nintendo has now allowed every piece of crap to pass through in order to boost the number of titles availalbe to the Wii. Instead of investing that money into helping developers the way Microsoft and Sony have been doing for years.

    The only games worth owning on the Wii are from Nintendo, and possible about 5 more from third parties.

    Let me ask you this Bruce, If you go to blockbuster or Gamefly and RENT the game who makes the Money?

    Ok the original Game was sold for about 40.00 so the developer makes a few hundred off original sales from said company. Now Blockbuster, Gamefly, or more make the money and it’s more than the few hundred the developer got.

    Lets take this a step further. EB Games and Gamestop buy the games back for 10.00 and sell them for 30.00 making more profit than any game developer and they did not do anything..

    Now it does not make it right, but maybe people are just renting them from the internet. Ive not seen one pirate resell the games they downloaded. Theyt play them for an hour realise they are crap and throw them away..

    Im not recommending this lifestyle as people are getting screwed over, but lets fix the real problem.

    Why do we not change the industry. Lets CHARGE less for these games from now on and increase sales.

    The entire business module for Games and Entertainment is wrong and they are screwing everyone including themselves with the short sideness of a quick buck..

    Want to make a customer and keep them spending money on you?

    Do it right. Make a real electronic distubution system.
    I know that word is scary, but its needed now and not some closed system.

    Let me sign up for a rental fee program 20.00 a month for liimited game downloads lets say 5-10 games and I can keep them as long as I keep paying my subscription.

    The companies need to set a ratio if your game has x users over 30days you get 5% royalties.

    if I like the game I can just play it, if I hate it I can remove it. EB gets nothing, The developers get the money and everyone is happy were not paying 60.00 anymore for utter rushed, bug ladden piles of steaming crap..

    Im sorry Ive gone all over the place this was about hacking, and there are legit reasons I want the Wii hacked. I want to play DVD’s on it there are some really impressive tools have you ever seen Xbox Media Center on the XBOX? Its rivals anything commerically bought and it’s free…

    If I buy a system Im going to do what I want with it, and the companies have the right to BAN me I understand that. We are all not thieves in the night were sometimes good people who are tired of getting rapped for tech demos gone bad…

  9. I have the homebrew channel installed on my wii but I made a promise to myself not to steal from nintendo, I only use it to play homemade games, or emulaters from games that are not available on Virtual Console. I love nintendo but I also love having unlimited options on my console. I know most people would exploit the hell out of the Twilight Hack and I hope those people are the ones who brick their Wiis. Good post to.

  10. To rckt42

    Nintendo are champions of milking customers, (re)selling them products at prices that largely exceed what they are worth. Worst of all, ever great demand doesn’t drag the prices down.

    To Jamb0

    As a whole, no, the prices are not ridiculous, as long as you consider the really ridiculous amount of time and people that need to be put into a game.
    Take the resources used for the dev of games such as Grand Theft Auto IV and Lost in the Dark. It’s not surprising that such games will come out as quite expensive.

    To Peter St. John

    I think you are right, but the piracy shouldn’t be far behind. Basically, the hardware protection as been circumvented, and cipped Wiis already exist and gallons of illicit games on it.
    The brdige will come to bear rather quickly imo.

    To Glenn

    I concur that the retail system is progressively becoming so locked that you already feel like you’re subscribing to publishers, but the major problem I see here is that you depend on the internet connection, and I don’t think you should.
    I think you should be able to buy a game, and then take your laptop, your PS or whatever and live alone on an island and still be able to play your damn game.
    Otherwise, you’re just developping a good form of networked slavery.

  11. Whenever people argue over the “retail (consumer)” price of entertainment, I point them to the iTunes store. The lesson should have been learned by all other industries too; you can’t squeeze the consumers forever. Piracy flourishes in markets where products are overpriced. (and people wonder why there are so many fake Luis Vuitton bags out there!)

    I don’t disagree that games like GTA4 deserve to charge $60. Not at all. However, when every shitty title sitting at Gamestop shelves are priced at $60, it’s no wonder that people are tempted to turn to piracy.

    Sure, some people pirate simply because they have no ethical standards. And those people pirate no matter what the cost of legal copies. But there is a large class of consumers that are caught in the middle; unable to afford the games they want because the games are simply too expensive.

  12. Comment #4 must be from a parallel universe or something. Are we talking about the same Nintendo that charges upwards of 35 quid for Wii games, even via online retailers, for months or years after release? Who have been penalised on multiple occasions for anti-competitive and price-fixing shenanigans?

  13. I am sure that the Joe developer is not crying over this nor is the game company with there pocket full of dollars from gamers.
    There have been to many times that I have dished out the money for a game either on ps3, 360, or wii, brought it home. Once I started to play it I quickly realized that the game never went through a QA department (or should i say the gamers are the QA department) and it was bug city. Since retailers will not take the game back, and the companies tech support line basically says ‘that should be fixed in a patch next year”. I hope all the system’s get cracked. I think they made a enough money at our expense.
    Wii is one of the few that I do not feel as strong as for ps3 or 360, but wii as done it’s share also.

  14. After reading about the twilight hack, it does not let you run backups. It seems strictly homebrew. I guess one could download N64 roms, for the “Homebrew Channel,” but that is not the problem that is seemingly implied in your above article. I just think you made it seem like this “hack” allows you to run backed up games (which is a huge problem) and it doesn’t. Just my input.

  15. – Not every pirated copy of a work can possibly be counted as a “lost sale,” especially for games that don’t sell well to begin with, because the fact is pirates would not bother purchasing most of the games they steal if they had no alternative.

    – The exposure games receive through piracy may not result in increased sales, but it definitely helps to offset any losses. It’s a form of free advertising, especially for lesser-known titles. In the case of extremely popular titles, most revenue comes from fans who want the game on day one regardless of cost. Everyone else will wait until the price drops (publishers get less, developers get a lot less), or the game is available to pirate. In both cases the impact of lost sales isn’t as huge as it’s made out to be.

    – Homebrew and piracy, unfortunately, go hand in hand. However, homebrew that expands the functionality and library of options available to the person who bought a console simply rocks, and may draw the interest of new audiences (XBMC comes to mind).

    – The relationship between developers and publishers is just as outdated as the one between musicians and the record labels. The real artists get screwed either way, and they would do better to rely on self-distribution.

    – Stealing data, where the cost of reproduction is negligible, is not the same as stealing a loaf of bread. Selling data by the copy is a little like printing your own money: just keeping printing as long as you can find people to place value on the copies. Unfortunately I don’t yet know of an alternative, but this model is definitely suspect.

    – The vast, VAST majority of games (and music/movies/software for that matter) completely and utterly suck. I do not want to spend a small fortune renting garbage just to find one game I like. All games should have free demos that are representative of the final version and if not, it deserves to be pirated. If a game isn’t good enough to have a demo available, it doesn’t even deserve that much.

    – The real victims of piracy are Gamestop, Gamefly, and Blockbuster, not the developers.

    So, piracy does not always spell doom for a console, for developers, or for the industry per se. It just means some sales will be lost, but some exposure and some functionality will be gained. The industry will be fine.

  16. I believe Piracy has it’s good side and bad side. For example, I wanted to try Guitar Hero 3 and had no desire to spend $90 for a game I was not sure I would actually enjoy. So, I downloaded Guitar Hero 3 and bought a used Guitar from GameStop/EB Games for $20. I found out that Guitar Hero 3 was a GREAT game for me to have. Others told me if I enjoyed Guitar Hero that I would LOVE Rock Band. So, having played Guitar Hero and knowing Rock Band had the same style game play, I went and bought it at the $160 price (PS2), I also ended up buying Guitar Hero 1, 2, and Encore: Rock the 80s. So, sure, i pirated Guitar Hero 3, but I enjoyed it very much, got into the series and ended up spending WAAAY more than $90 Guitar Hero 3 would have cost. I have yet to actually purchase the Guitar Hero 3 game, but I will do it to support the title. So, in cases like that, Piracy has influenced me to purchase games. Game Rentals used to, but they are getting so expensive. I used to rent NES cartridges for about $2/day. Now, at least in Mississippi, game rentals are hitting $8/2 days if they are new releases. I’ve heard some places are $13 to rent games! I got no problem wasting 50 cents for a DVD-R if the game sucks, but I do have a problem spending $13 if the game sucks.

  17. It is amazing to see the apologists for stealing in the above comments.
    It takes seconds to find out about a game on Metacritic and Gamerankings.
    There is no excuse for being a software thief.

  18. What about the comments noting that the homebrew channel plays homebrew games, not pirate discs?

  19. The only positive point about game piracy is… huh, spreading gaming experience beyond the limits of people’s wealth (which in certain countries is decreasing considerably).

    That’s about it.
    The rest is not really excusable.
    That said, I perfectly agree that demos HAVE TO be more than 95% similar to their respective retail version, and each game should come with such a demo.
    Otherwise, you may consider that there’s been a failure at the marketing level.

    PS: sorry for the typos in my former post. 🙁

  20. >It takes seconds to find out about a game on Metacritic and Gamerankings.

    Game demos are where it’s at.

    Personally I hated Gears of War, one of the best reviewed 360 titles.

    Game choice can be very personal.

  21. OK, Yeah, lets just go to metacritic and rely on that someone else’s review will be the same way i feel. No thats not going to happen. You can not tell by just a review on whether you will like the game or not in the end. I have bought so many games that just sucked and I had wished that I could have tried out a 20 minute demo first before finding out that the gameplay just wasn’t my thing, another wasted $50.

    I dont agree or disagree with pirating. I pirate music, movies, and programs all the time. And guess what, usually after about 24 hours I decide either it sucked or it was worth it and I pay the $15 for a cd, $50 for a game, or even $4000 for some software. But damn straight I will find out first on wether it sux or not and if I should WASTE my money on some garbage.

  22. i agree that piracy is bad but so is dropping $50 for a game that you dont like, and i know that renting is avalible but by the time you can get ahold of the game you have lost interest. i myself pirate games, BUT if i really like it i go and buy it and about 90% of the games i download go unfinnished and just lets say rot. besides that if you back up a rented game its not really piracy because you paid a price for it and the sales of games rented makes more money thn one would think with multiple copies and at $7 for 3 days, within a month that all adds up to the price of maybe 5 games all for a game that noone can keep. and just like the music industry the artists bearly see this money unless they are indapendant. and the funny thing is that you can build this sytem on the cheep with the mother baord at like $50 andthe Disk drive at $20 and the shell at $5. and say a game caust $5,000,000 to make and the sales on openning day are at 100,000 copies at $56 per copy in the US alone makes them 5.6 mil and with example of halo 3 with the $100 legendary edition almost makes about 35% more money for free gifts. If the industry was realy ganna be threatened by this they would not make external media to restore a systems software they would have a special input only plug that wipes the flash mem and restores the original software, and it would be completely locked even from the companies software (but to be erased). But they still leave little things open, peopple have accidently gotten recovery disks in there system and hardware (like the psp) that people reverse engineare to hack the system. some like the wii use genaric hardware that peaple just loaded there own vertion of the software on to bypass certain checks. and if you realy dont want to open up your system you can play it on your computer get adapters and play with the accual controller now even the wii and PS3 (xbox is way too easy i was all based for a PC anyway).

    Now say that you go streight edge and buy all your games, say you beat a game 100% that you payed over $50 for, what do you have? a usless hunk of plastic that you can only get $15 for if your lucky and when that game goes back into cycle the game companies dont see a penny of the money thoes game stores make for trade-ins.

    So not to be an ass really think about it when you so violently bash piracy.


  23. as posted befor the homebrew channel cant get access to the disk drive to begin with so pirated games isnt the issue and the fact that you can put VC games on the wii via the HB channel most download the games they already owned and still have, all the games i DL i still have, its just that the system is broken. like with the psp and playing ps1 games on it, i just copy the games i own and put it on the psp, y pay for the download sony provieds when i have my own means to get it LEGALLY?

  24. games are overpriced, but music is friggin evil priced, if you take something for free because some robber barons want a thousand percent markup yeah that is not stealing duh, taking stuff from thieves is good behavior, if you see a local band live and then buy a ten dollar cd, bravo, but itunes at a dollar a pop, there is no manufacturing or distribution, a few bucks on the servers, the rest should be for the artist, na, that does not happen, robber barons, take as much as you can from them work for the common good, same with movies, actors getting 20million, frag that, 13 bucks for a show and another 15 for popcorn??? campus theaters that charge 3bucks are always full, if the movie is good and you are rich enough to own a ps3 and make more than 10bucks an hour you will buy a bluray, but music, lower quality and same price for tapes and cds, movies better and cheaper, when blurays are ten bucks tpb won’t even have a hd section, and because of tpb and piracy the industry has improved, way better movies, lots less trash, SO when EA etc makes games that are 50 gigs and up [200 with multilayer blu] true 1080p and up, with decent sized maps that have more than a week of life, sure 50 bucks, but that should include a full season of online play with a worldwide league where you can play individual players and have a career, like a racing game, and also have high enough quality that ppl actually play longer than a week after release, get a game a month old and you can wait hours to find someone to race with, make the consoles and games cheaper so there is a larger overall audience and get rid of the stupid online costs so there is more participation, bandwith and admin does not cost a 30million dollars a month, that is extortion by a monopoly and an actual crime, someone should sue!!!!! i have lots of dvds and only download now til bluray is priced reasonably, you know 100 bucks a player 20 for new discs, ten ppv, and where is online tv?? just have series streamed with their ads, so the studios still get revenue, and the ads can actually be optimized for the audience, whom is actually going to buy a car? pizza, beer and chips, give me Smallville and feed some decent impulse buys! ok thanks world thats my share, peace out, lots of love K oh I bought Halo 2 for only ten bucks on boxing day and when my nephews xbox actually works it still gets played, [until Halo3 is on closeout] now thats a deal better than a movie, if games were 30 bucks or less new and ten after 6months you would not see anything on p2p nada zero!

  25. The prize for games, software, pictures and music are overpriced, All this people wants to make a lot of money with only one work, is like a employee that work only on monday but get a complete salary, and the consequences are people like madonna, britney and etc crap that have no idea wath to do with the money and think about this: They are better people than Us ? Why they get a lot of money for their work and the rest of people only gets little money. Who are the thief in this case they or Us ???

  26. Nintendo has profited enormously dating back to the early 80s. It’s only fair they suffer the same fate as Sony & Microsoft, especially in these hard economic times. The parties over. Lower your game prices or suffer the hard end of the stick.

  27. Ok here we go again, Piracy.

    While it is WRONG to be doing so, too many people are using it as an excuse for bad sales to start. I’m sure with close scrutiny, you can find publishing executives’ bad decisions (and developer’s bad decisions too) can and do lead to bad sales. Of course rather than take the blame, they blame it all on piracy.

    ADDED to the mess of bad decisions is the DRM aspect. Software built into games that treat legitimate purchasers as if they were violating the law until they can prove otherwise. This software can even conflict with said hardware the actual software can use. One other note here is, any “unbreakable” DRM that does come out equals a challenge to pirates to break, and they always do. This situation is a no-win for consumers and publishers, as publishers spend extra money on top of development costs to “protect” their software sales profits and in turn that cost is wasted funds due to it won’t stay secure for long. (Another, unrelated example is The HMS Titanic: claimed “unsinkable,” yet sunk.)

  28. And there are plenty of us that would simply NOT buy a game platform at all due to the price of the games.
    I cannot afford to invenst hundreds of dollars into a handfull of games, thus my family has NO game box at all.
    I am thinking of investing in a Wii only because of this Hack. IF not for this hack, no way at all I would do it.
    I am sure I will invest in 2 or 3 games in the future, and pirate 20 or 30 others. Now that makes 2 or 3 games worth of $$$ that would NEVER have existed otherwise.

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