How Nintendo is Trying to Take Down Switch Porn Pirates

Nintendo has tried very hard to maintain its squeaky clean image. Consider the relatively unblemished state of its newest prize horse — the Switch. However, with a great console comes us gamers, inevitably wanting to push it past its hard limits. Enter the users in the community who are modding it, wanting custom avatars, and sticking pornography in Super Mario Odyssey. This happening isn’t a bad thing per se; modding is one of the best things that ever happened to the Wii community. However, the company is taking a hardline stance to protect its PG-13 goodies, including banning users outright for Nintendo Switch modding. Here’s a look at what people have been doing to the Switch and what Nintendo’s been doing to stop them.

We’ve Been Naughty

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If you own Super Mario Odyssey, then you’ve probably played Luigi’s Balloon World. The premise is largely irrelevant to the modding community, but it’s a mode that allows players to scatter balloons around maps for others to reach. It’s not the most riveting in its default state. However, modders have begun to spice things up pretty literally. There are images floating around Reddit and tweets pointing out Pornhub stills on Luigi’s balloons. Curious about how they got there? People have been setting explicit pictures as their profile pictures, and Balloon World marks players’ balloons with their avatars. Custom developer software allows Switch users to diversify the profile picture options available to them, and while not everyone uses that power for evil, those who do have been noticed.

Compared to the other more egregious instances of modding, this is pretty minor. Still, there’s been a massive parental backlash as a result of Luigi’s balloons, mainly because of Nintendo’s carefully cultivated image. The hacking community awakened the company’s slumbering overlords, and it’s expected that pushing the envelope further would have consequences. Enter those who are wanting to test their homebrew skills. There’s a large community around homebrewing and piracy (unrelated, but adjacent) from previous Nintendo releases. Everyone remembers the Game Boy and Wii exploits that allowed people to have access to Nintendo’s library virtually unpunished if they were doing it right. Now, it’s not the Wild West anymore, but people are still trying their luck.

The Saga Continues

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Namely, people are using developer software for all sorts of naughty Nintendo Switch things. They’re creating their own randomly generated games on the system. They’re coming up with ways to rename files on systems and to customize the look of your library. They’ve even modded custom costumes in Breath of the Wild. The sky is the limit here if you’ve got ingenuity and persistence. It’s easy to see how people are getting excited about this stuff, and why they’re encouraging each other to do it. Everyone has a soft spot for fan-created content and a lot of the time, that’s what modding is. It’s not pornographic images, it’s just fans wanting to do more with their favorite console.

Lots of people are thinking that Nintendo should look the other way; they have for a long time with previous consoles. However, it looks like Nintendo’s days of rolling over are, well, over. This may have been prompted by involvement outside the player community. SX Pro is a household name in the modding community for selling accessories that allow you to jailbreak the console. Unfortunately, these hijinks come with something called SX OX, which can be used for homebrew. Unfortunately for those who have been flexing their modding muscles, SX OX contains brick code. Essentially, this turns your Switch into a dead duck. SX Pro isn’t taking any responsibility for these incidents, but that’s not the real issue here.

Crime and Punishment

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Nintendo has gone the extra mile now in the wake of more impressive feats by modders and it’s started banning users. These bans aren’t temporary. These are account bans, which mean that even if you bought a new Nintendo Switch, your old account being blacklisted means something. A Nintendo representative gave a statement to The Verge on this issue. In short, users are being banned for modding their systems to display the kind of content that parents clutch pearls over.

Additionally, people are being banned for attempting to play titles that weren’t legitimately purchased. We’ve written about how Nintendo’s banning individual game cards if players that have gamed the system are trying to play online. The company is banning game cart certificates – these are the codes that each cartridge has. Nintendo has a system where it can separate authorized cards from cards that have been blacklisted. This appears to be possible via the company checking whether your user profile has data from a legitimate card when you try to go online. The solution to this seems about as simple as not going online. However, as we’ve mentioned, this could be an issue for anyone trying to buy and sell cartridges secondhand. Information has come to light about these console bans being apparently permanent.

Nintendo’s clearly not pulling any punches when it comes to punishing people for trying to mod the Switch. There’s clearly an anti-piracy measure in place here, but there has been talk that the lack of distinction between modders and people abusing the system is hurting Nintendo’s consumer base. The conversation around what modding can add to a console’s lifespan and popularity is one that’s been had many times over. However, Nintendo is cracking down hard on all modders that it can reach, no matter their intentions.

Are you someone who wants to mod their Switch? Got a strong opinion about the quality of the alternative pictures in Luigi’s Balloon World? Let us know how you think these measures are going to affect you or other players in the comments below.