Nintendo bans Switch consoles with pirated games

Reddit post warns against pirating games to the handheld

Nintendo bans Switch consoles with pirated games

A hacker on Reddit has discovered that Nintendo permanently bans consoles with pirated software from its online network.

Concerns over piracy on Switch grew after hackers discovered an unpatchable exploit in the console, which gave them deep access to system files.

But Reddit user SciresM warned users against pirating games, after discovering Nintendo cracks down on illegal software by permanently banning hardware from it’s network.

Ban hammer

His post describes a breakdown of the protections Nintendo has in place to detect Switch consoles running pirated software online. The publisher provides each game card with a unique key - if that card is dumped and the key used again online, Nintendo will ban it and prevent the game card from being used online again.

“This solves the 3DS-era issue of game card header data being shared between games,” wrote SciresM.

“Additionally, there’s a fair amount of other, unknown (encrypted) data in a certificate being uploaded and certificates are also linked to Nintendo Accounts when gold points are redeemed. Sharing of certificates should be fairly detectable”

Digital games are tied to both hardware ID and player account ID - if a mismatch is detected between either of these and the game’s key, Nintendo cuts off access to the title.

“Tickets cannot be forged, and Nintendo can verify that the device ID in the ticket matches the device ID for the client cert connecting (banning on a mismatch), as well as that the account ID for the ticket matches the Nintendo Account authorizing to log in," added SciresM.

SciresM ended by praising the company for its anti-pirating measures, calling them “extremely strong".

Staff Writer

Natalie Clayton is an Edinburgh-based freelance writer and game developer. Besides PCGamesInsider and, she's written across the games media landscape and was named in the 2018 100 Rising Star list.