We store cookies, you can get more info from our privacy policy.
Wii

Don't Use Mod Chips, Says Nintendo UK

by Steven Rodriguez - April 24, 2007, 8:40 am PDT
Total comments: 34 Source: Nintendo Europe

NOE thinks it's necessary to let people know about the menace that is illegal console modification.

Nintendo of Europe has updated its site—the front page, no less—with a notice informing people about the danger of Wii mod chips. The note explains that chips are illegal, of course, and that installing one into your console will void your warranty and possibly render your system unrepairable, should something go wrong. The final sentence of the update goes as far as tossing around the phrase "criminal charges."

Posting this information on the front page indicates that Nintendo is taking this issue very seriously in Europe, perhaps heading any future problems off before they happen. It could also be a move to better educate the consumers that don't know any better. Whatever the reason, if you didn't know about the dangers of mod chips, now you do.

Talkback

decoymanApril 24, 2007

Translation:

WARNING – With mod chips, you may be able to play games from other regions, thus disempowering NoE and our ability to, without penalty aside from occasional public outcry, sluggishly release games that have been out for months – even years! – in other regions.

LouieturkeyApril 24, 2007

Plus play burned games instead of paying our high prices which is also illegal.

ootlerApril 24, 2007

You'd have to be an idiot to mod a console that they can update the bios on.

TansunnApril 24, 2007

That's exactly what happened. I heard a story about some guys who tried running Super Paper Mario on a modded console for a different region, and it tried updating the firmware, which was incompatible with the region, turning the system into a shiny, white brick.

KDR_11kApril 24, 2007

I was tempted to mail them if this means they'll remove the region lock to ensure that people aren't tempted to install a modchip because of NoE's f###ing retarded release schedule and pricing but I doubt they would have answered in any meaningful way. Though I guess it would be interesting to see how a PR robot tries to spin "we don't want you to get games quick and cheap" into something that sounds good for the customer.

vuduApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: KDR_11k
I guess it would be interesting to see how a PR robot tries to spin "we don't want you to get games quick and cheap" into something that sounds good for the customer.
It would probably have something to do with quality control.

Well, I wouldn't be surprised if that system update they put on some games is there to brick foreign, modded consoles. I just don't see why SPM needed to update my system, especially since there is nothing too difficult processing-wise.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 24, 2007

I'm guessing that SPM didn't *need* to update the firmware of the system, per say... it just had all the newest update infomation on it (that most of us had downloaded already) and the disc just auto-checks to see if your Wii needs the update. I imangine we'll see more of this.

Anywhoo, yeah, it's not a wise move to mod a console that's always online and ready to download updates... face-icon-small-wink.gif

NephilimApril 24, 2007

Wii: bricks your console
live: ban's you
Psp: we dont care

nintendo atleast has the right attitude

CericApril 24, 2007

I do have to say that even with a Mod I doubt you be able to crack the other layers of anti-piracy protection that the media itself has. The Gamecube was hacked by using the network adapter to stream games from someone computer. (Which I personally like to see for kicks.)

I still think that Nintendo should just go with the flow and either unlock the system or sell you each region as a channel.

Sir_StabbalotApril 24, 2007

With the expiration date for my Live subscription drawing ever closer, I'm thinking of modding my X-Box. To softmod or to modchip, that is the question.

And does NoE actually have ANY power at all to punish people with modded Wiis? I know they can sue people who sell the chips, but they can't touch the users, right?

vuduApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Sir_Stabbalot
And does NoE actually have ANY power at all to punish people with modded Wiis? I know they can sue people who sell the chips, but they can't touch the users, right?
They can brick your system.

bustin98April 24, 2007

Supposedly there are mod chips that operate in stealth mode. Plus, in order to combat certain mod chips, Nintendo is altering the layout of the board that the chip modifies, removing redundant or useless circuit paths amoung possible other modifications.

Sir_StabbalotApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: vudu
They can brick your system.


True, but I meant more along the lines of legal action.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 24, 2007

It would depend on the country, but probably, they could.

However, it wouldn't be worth their effort. It's like the RIAA going after someone for illegally downloading a few songs. They *can*, it's just not something they're going to do (often).

CericApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: bustin98
Supposedly there are mod chips that operate in stealth mode. Plus, in order to combat certain mod chips, Nintendo is altering the layout of the board that the chip modifies, removing redundant or useless circuit paths amoung possible other modifications.


Why didn't they get rid of those to begin with I wander.

JonLeungApril 24, 2007

I think Nintendo's warning may have alerted people to the fact that mod chips are available.

It's like when you tell someone "don't think about elephants" and they can't help but think about elephants.

"Don't use mod chips!" - Nintendo UK
"Oh, mod chips are available? Thanks for letting me know!" - formerly unaware gamer

See?

What? There are mod chips? I gots ta get me one of dems.

Sir_StabbalotApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: UncleBob
It would depend on the country, but probably, they could.

However, it wouldn't be worth their effort. It's like the RIAA going after someone for illegally downloading a few songs. They *can*, it's just not something they're going to do (often).


Ah, thanks for the clarification.

Quote

Originally posted by: Ceric
Why didn't they get rid of those to begin with I wander.


Probably they were left in as sometimes removing seemingly useless parts of a complex piece of electronics can screw everything up.

GalfordApril 24, 2007

This article should be title "How Nintendo plans on giving Sony or Microsoft Europe".
Because if Nintendo's current policies hold, that's what is going to happen.

Maybe if Nintendo changed some of their policies there wouldn't be a need for a mod market in Europe.

BranDonk KongApril 24, 2007

The Super Paper Mario thing screwed the guy's system because he tried installed PAL firmware on an NTSC console, or visa-versa, it wasn't some trick by Nintendo to brick modded systems, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the modchip inside it, other than the fact that it allowed him to boot said game. Wii modchips only hack the drive code, which can't be read by the Wii OS, and is the reason why you can only load Gamecube homebrew and not Wii homebrew. There were tons of modchips for the Gamecube near the end of it's life (which was some time in 2004). I'm not condoning the use of modchips for playing illegal backups of games that you do not own, but I'm all for using them to play homebrew, such as many of the emulators for Gamecube which you can now play on Wii, or GC Linux. Also, Nintendo is not legally allowed to brick your console because it has a chip (even though there's no way they could even know you had one, at least not the type of modchips that are out now), all they can do is void your warranty and refuse to fix your system if you modded it. What's kind of funny though, is Microsoft will fix your firmware modded XBox 360 (for free), as long as it's under the 1 year warranty time period, they did this for a friend of mine, whose 360 I modded.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: Brandogg
Also, Nintendo is not legally allowed to brick your console because it has a chip (even though there's no way they could even know you had one, at least not the type of modchips that are out now), all they can do is void your warranty and refuse to fix your system if you modded it.


You know what's interesting about hacking? It goes both ways.

Someone creates a mass market mod chip for a system - the company finds out and figures a way to prevent it from working on new systems. So the individuals who make the mod chip figure out how to work around the work around and make a new chip. And the company goes back to work to work around the work around of the work around.

You say that there's no way for Nintendo to know you have a mod chip, but all Nintendo has to do is order one of these mod chips and install it themselves and when Super Smash Bros. Brawl or Mario Galaxy comes out, include the code that detects this new mod chip and bricks it. Then, when the hackers figure it out, they'll build another chip that Nintendo "won't know about". And when Nintendo finds out, they'll have the ability to do the same thing.

As far as the legality of it? It'd be an interesting court case. Aside from the fact that the Mod chip is (typically and probably) illegal, open one of your game's manual to the front, inside cover. "This game is not for use with any unauthorized device." Using the game with your unauthorized, (probably) illegally modded Wii would be about the same as using it with your Big Mac, then complainging that the disc cut the roof of your mouth. If the disc isn't designed to play on a modded Wii and you try to do so anyway (after being told not to), I have a hard time believing you'd get much out of a case against them.

I think the question is, "Would Nintendo have a case against console modders?"
Both ways, too. The person that mods consoles and the people that use the mods.

Anyways, I think in most cases, it's a bad decision to mod your console initially. After a long time passes, a the mods will get more and more efficient at bypassing security measures, such as with the PSP, and then it might be a better decision, but if you do go that route, it is very wise to be very well versed in the effects, both positive and negative, that the mod has placed on your console.

KDR_11kApril 24, 2007

I would assume the firmware update was the one the leaflet in the box talked about that would enable SD card functionality and perhaps a few channels.

Bob: You can make any claims on the box but they aren't necessarily binding if the judge finds that other claims on the box contradict it (or just finds that you have no rights to make such claims). Making a computer program that is deliberately damaging computers you don't like is a crime (cf. Sony rootkit class action lawsuit). Committing a crime against a criminal is still illegal and the criminal has all rights to sue you. Having it happen by accident is one thing (though you can expect future modchips to automatically prevent firmware updates) but designing the product in order to cause such damage is illegal.

WilliApril 24, 2007

Since I'm not eligible for warranty as an European NTSC import user, I won't care if I voided my warranty which never existed to begin with. I'd love to register my games and all but since they all say "For sale, rental and use only in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Latin America" I better not.
I have no interest to mod my Wii whatsoever, still I find this topic rather interesting.

On to the Super Paper Mario issue:

My leaflet in SPM merely says:
"Please note that when first loading the Game Disc into the Wii console, the Wii will check if you have the latest system menu, and if necessary a Wii system update screen will appear. Press OK to proceed."

Latest system menu. face-icon-small-happy.gif

So when you first try to run SPM, the Game Disc will check if you have already the newest System Update installed. Maybe Nintedo put this in place for those unfortunate console owners who do not have internet access. By regularly adding the newest Firmware on major releases Nintendo can make sure pretty much all consoles are up to date irregardless of a working internet connection.

Right now there are at least three mod chips out there: Wiid, Wiikey, and CycloWiz. The best of the bunch obviously being Wiikey as of now:

Homepage: http://www.wiikey.cn/
Forum: http://psx-scene.com/wii/portal.php?styleid=28

As has been said the mod chip merely allows a Disc to be read which isn't supposed to be read. Thus the forums can confirm that having a mod chip in place in no ways seems to hinder further System Updates:

http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/499544:

I did a system update right after my Wii-Key was installed. No problems. Besides, Wii-Key runs in stealth mode.
or
internet --> system updates would be fine even with a modchip without the stealth mode feature (im using wi-ic and it doesnt have stealth mode but the update was successful face-icon-small-wink.gif its a sucky modchip though)

However, the bricked Wiis due to SPM are a logic consequence of a modded non updated system:

Your game selection will be limited due to Nintendo putting the system updates on newer game titles. Example: (Paper Mario) Which will install the update automatically to the newer version if your version is lower then what is on the game disc.

This already has become a problem with some Wii owners with region free modchips installed. Some users have bricked their Wii due to playing an NTSC game disc (Paper Mario) on their PAL system without updating their system. Paper Mario did a system update and flashed the NTSC system update on their PAL unit which then bricked their Wii due to region lock on the hardware of the system.

It is important to keep your Wii updated if you have a modchip installed. If you do not want to update your Wii due to a softmod that could be exploited later in time then you will need to know what titles have the system update on them and stay away from those game titles.


The correct steps to play a game like that:
http://www.demonoid.com/files/details/1107329/?show_files=&page=3

I have a (launchday) pall Wii firmware 2.1E, Wiikey, Game patched with RegionFrii 1.2.
Can confirm SPM works on pal (downloaded from another site however)

- turn on your wii without a game disc in
- perform a system update and follow it until the system reboots
- perform system updates until you get a message telling you there are no more updates available.
- boot up your wii then insert the game disc
- when you go into the disc channel, you will be asked to perform an update
- make sure your internet connection is available then click OK to perform the update
- once your wii reboots, you can play this awesome game!


In summary, all NOE had to do to brick lots and lots of modded Wiis:

- build a new NTSC firmware with no changes but incremented version number
- include a similar update mechanism as in SPM in a new major US title such a Galaxy
- do NOT include such an update mechanism in the same major title to be released in Europe
- do NOT include this update in the PAL market so it is not available for non NTSC consoles
- release the major title in the US but delay the title considerably in Europe

-> every attempt to play this game on a non NTSC console will brick the modded Wii until the time a newer
update is released in the PAL market.

I wonder if a bricked Wii like this could still be later updated and fixed "blindly". A pal console with NTSC firmware couldn't display a picture anymore but other than that could in theory still work, right? So assuming we have a broken Pal Wii due to bad firmware, could this Wii be repaired by blindly updating the Firmware to a new legit Pal System Update provided one was available?

If so, NOE only had to modify the above procedure slightly to add enough changes to the Wii to deliberately brick a Pal onsole which applies this patch.

NephilimApril 24, 2007

modchip + internet = solution?
Also blaming NOE?

pirates are dumb
wouldnt be suprised if nintendo pulled a xbox live for strikers, brawl and other games

WilliApril 24, 2007

Who is blaming NOE?

The bricked Wiis due to Super Paper Mario are to be blamed fully on the carelessness of the mod users. This certainly didn't happen on purpose by NOE. In closing, I only described one method NOE could deploy if they really wanted to deliberately brick modded Wiis, which they don't, as of now.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 24, 2007

Quote

Originally posted by: KDR_11k
Bob: You can make any claims on the box but they aren't necessarily binding if the judge finds that other claims on the box contradict it (or just finds that you have no rights to make such claims). Making a computer program that is deliberately damaging computers you don't like is a crime (cf. Sony rootkit class action lawsuit). Committing a crime against a criminal is still illegal and the criminal has all rights to sue you. Having it happen by accident is one thing (though you can expect future modchips to automatically prevent firmware updates) but designing the product in order to cause such damage is illegal.


Meh... like I said, it would be an interesting court case. Not only would you have to attempt to tell the judge that you were trying to play the game on an unauthorized, (probably) illegally modified system after being told not to do so, but if the events happened similarly to the Super Paper Mario incident, you'd have to create an international lawsuit (since NoE and NoA are two seaperate companies, you couldn't really file for civil damages against NoE for a game released by NoA). Additionally, you'd have to tell the judge that you were attempting to play a game in Europe that says it's "For use only in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Latin America".

I can only imangine Judge Judy's response to this.

KDR_11kApril 25, 2007

I wonder if we'll see modchips that can be set to return any version number soon?

BranDonk KongApril 25, 2007

The thing is, the Wii OS cannot detect the chip. Nintendo knows the chips exist, which is why they modified the Wii motherboard to try and thwart modders (which didn't work), rather than releasing a software update to "fix the problem" because it isn't possible without physically flashing system, or desoldering the modchip. Also, Nintendo's warning inside the game label is just a threat, just like their stance on emulation, and isn't based on any actual law. Up until the DMCA a few years ago, modding your console and LEGALLY backing up games that you own was perfectly legal. Again, I'm just promoting chips for homebrew here.

UncleBobRichard Cook, Guest ContributorApril 25, 2007

And again, you could take it to court and possibly make a case and possibly win. I'm just saying it'd be an interesting court case.

CericApril 25, 2007

You know Nintendo is slacking. The Cube took a while to be truly modded but they made it idiotically simple to region mod it.

BranDonk KongApril 25, 2007

Well the Gamecube's region coding was purely hardware based, like all of their previous consoles, the Wii's is software (and hardware?) based, which makes it harder to bypass using only software.

JonLeungApril 25, 2007

I guess if we're not talking about pirated games, I could understand the desire to play games from other regions.

I miss the good old days. Such a simple fix.

*snaps the tabs out of the inside of a Super NES to play Super Famicom games*

Got a news tip? Send it in!
Advertisement
Advertisement