Enlarge /. An SX OS menu screen with multiple pirated copies, as seen in Nintendo court documents.
Nintendo will go to court to stop a number of retailers reportedly selling a switch modification device that users can use to pirate older versions of the system. However, the console maker is also using these lawsuits to warn retailers against taking pre-orders for an upcoming hardware hack designed for newer switch consoles, including Switch Lite.
The lawsuits that Polygon received on Friday after filing in Ohio and Seattle courts focus on websites selling products from the hacking collective Team-Xecuter. This group currently manufactures the SX Pro, a simple USB device that allows users to install a custom "SX OS" operating system from a memory card on the switch. When SX OS is installed, users can "play virtually any pirated game developed for the Nintendo Switch without permission or without paying a cent to Nintendo or one of the many authorized game manufacturers that make games for Nintendo Switch."
The SX Pro only works with the approximately 20 million switch consoles that were released before June 2018 and that were exposed to an unpatchable exploit in their Nvidia Tegra CPUs. The 35 million Switch and Switch Lite systems have since had an updated chipset that cannot be hacked with this exploit.
However, Nintendo notes in its lawsuits that Team-Xecuter is about to release new switch hacking devices called SX Core and SX Lite that will allow SX OS to be installed on any switch console, including devices with updated chipsets.
Pay attention to solder burns
Unlike the relatively simple, strictly external hacks for older switch models, Team-Xecuter's new SX models for switch hacking seem to involve opening the console and soldering a small SD card reader directly onto the main motherboard. Team-Xecuter tested these new models for the first time last October, before previewing the new device with SX OS on a Switch Lite in December. The team then sent these updated SX units to testers and reviewers earlier this month, according to its website.
Enlarge /. A prototype of an SX Pro device soldered to a Nintendo Switch motherboard.
In its litigation, Nintendo is targeting retailers who pre-order Team-Xecuter's new offerings and warns of their potential business impact.
"Based on information and beliefs, the defendants have accepted and confirmed hundreds of other pre-orders for the SX Core and SX Lite in the United States, and plan to ship the products to buyers as soon as they are available, which is expected shortly," the company writes.
"The extent of the potential damage from the defendants' trading in SX Core and SX Lite is astonishing and threatens to circumvent the technological measures to protect the more than 35 million additional Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite consoles currently on the market (in addition to the 20 million Nintendo Switch consoles before June 2018), "the lawsuits continue.
Team Xecuter has a controversial reputation in the switch hacking community. This is because the focus is on benefiting from the otherwise generally open source efforts to identify and publicize vulnerabilities in console hardware. Team-Xeceuter also markets its devices with a special focus on decrypting and copying legitimate software, while open source hackers continue to focus on installing homebrew software and custom firmware that don't directly enable piracy.
"I totally disagree with the idea of hiding software exploits and then releasing modchips that use (possibly disguised) versions of them," Kate Temkin, a member of the ReSwitched Team collective that originally hacked the system, told Ars in 2018. "I. I think it is both unethical – because it allows malicious actors to identify and use the vulnerabilities before they can be fixed or public knowledge can spread – and against the spirit of knowledge sharing that we want to see in the console hacking community. "
"It is difficult to reconcile the goals of opening closed hardware and preventing piracy," added Temkin. "Unfortunately, allowing full access to their systems inevitably means that some users will use this access in a way that we disagree with."
Team-Xecuter also received some negative attention in 2018 with the outstanding protection against piracy on its own SX OS software that enables piracy. "We are implementing inconveniences to ensure that our SX OS startup file is tamper-proof and gain a competitive advantage," Team-Xecuter told The Verge at the time.
In addition to damages of up to $ 2,500 per sale, Nintendo is seeking court orders to block the continued sale of all Team Xeceuter hacking equipment from the identified retailers and "seize, seize and destroy all of the bypass equipment".