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Nintendo Businesses Hardware Hacking Software Wii Entertainment Games

Nintendo Blocks Homebrew Installation 251

ElementC writes "Sometime yesterday Nintendo uploaded the latest Wii system update. This update quietly patches a few bugs that allowed the installation of both homebrew and warez apps. Currently installed apps such as the Homebrew Channel and the video DVD library, DVDX, are reportedly not affected. Those not installing this update are blocked out of the Wii Shop channel and in the future may be blocked out of certain games. Team Twiizers cracked the last update within about eight hours. They're already on the case. Readers familiar with the architecture of the Wii will find the list of currently discovered changes interesting."
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Nintendo Blocks Homebrew Installation

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  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:00PM (#25498849)
    If there's anything we have learned from the homebrews on the PSP, it's that people involved in firmware cracking are a resourceful bunch, always a step ahead of the big companies running around with a trowel and mortar to plug the leaks in the dam. Expect your favorite Wii homebrew to be restored to business as usual within a day or two.
  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:05PM (#25498935)
    As a remorseless pedant I feel obliged to observe that by outsmarting the manufacturer after the new firmware comes out, the hackers are surely one or more steps behind the big companies. When the homebrew community anticipates upcoming fixes and pre-emptively beats them, then I'll concede that they are indeed one step ahead.
  • by glindsey ( 73730 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:07PM (#25498971)

    Did the update actually do anything to the Wii Shop Channel (other than making it inaccessible without the update)? Or was that simply a ruse to get everybody to apply an update that is really designed for a totally different purpose?

  • Remember when... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirCowMan ( 1309199 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:09PM (#25498985)
    I saw the update message on the Wii this morning, lame. Unauthorized software? Remember the time when software updates added functionality and/or fixed bugs? Rather than trying to limit your use of your own hardware (or is it leased now?) and protect the suppliers own revenue streams. While I haven't (yet) played around with the homebrew channel, and probably won't for a couple months (newborn due shortly!), I'm skipping this 'update' out of disgust.
  • Re:Wiimote (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RaceProUK ( 1137575 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:11PM (#25499029)
    Yes, as Sony will soon update their firmware to allow community developed apps to be sold... Wait, I'm thinking of Microsoft.
  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:12PM (#25499049)

    Serious question, is it really worth installing the Homebrew channel if you don't plan to do any development and don't have any intention of buying a classic controller?

    I took a look at what was offered about 2 months ago and nothing that was developed really made me want to rush out and install the channel. Don't get me wrong, people are doing great things, but I just ended up saying "meh" and went about playing Super Mario Galaxy.

    If I want emulators I can get that on the PSP now and the control system is better suited for the task. If I want DVD playback, then I already have a great Philips box which does DivX too.

    So ... is there something absolutely fantastic which I'm missing out on?

  • by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:15PM (#25499091)

    Ahh but what if they had anticipated the fix, pre-emptively beat them, and then feigned ignorance for a few days to make the companies think that they had outsmarted the hackers.

    Only to find out that they themselves were victims of a double-cross, but the real joke is that it wasn't even a cross since the hackers were employees that were posing as hackers to lull the homebrew community into installing their code. The result is that the homebrew community has been slowly installing pieces of a much more vast program conceived in the secret vaults underneat the Washington Monument. The true nature of these fixes won't be known until the third high tide past the winter solstice when the tidal forces on the wii controllers motion sensors will signal the code to execute.

    There is more, but you will

  • by TheCycoONE ( 913189 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:25PM (#25499283)
    Your comment suggests there may not be any utilitarian reason to hack the Wii, and there may not be much; but the question suggests you don't understand hackers and hacker culture very well. More often than not, it's not to gain any utilitarian advantage, but for the pure fun of doing something unintended or frowned upon by the original manufacture of the device. It's the same reason numerous universities have traditions where (particularly engineering) students place objects in unusual places.
  • by richy freeway ( 623503 ) * on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:26PM (#25499295)
    That's not homebrew though is it? That's a feature built into the console (if you install linux).
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:38PM (#25499439) Homepage Journal

    I live in Australia and many games (especially Nintendo and Capcom titles) take weeks, if not months longer to reach here after their US release.

    I can think of two reasons:

    For one thing, game consoles are typically used with large displays called "TVs". TVs in New Zealand and Australia run slower than North American TVs. A lot of games' physics are based on a time quantum based on that of the TV's vertical retrace, and developers need to retune the physics, retest all the levels to compensate for this.

    Some video games include depictions of violence or sex that the community deems unsuitable for small children. The standards and practices differ from country to country, and rating boards in each country classify each game based on local standards. It takes time to remove depictions that would result in a refusal to classify a game.

  • Blocking owners? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Drakin020 ( 980931 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:44PM (#25499521)

    Those not installing this update are blocked out of the Wii Shop channel and in the future may be blocked out of certain games.

    Uh, so let's say Jimmy purchases a Wii, takes it home with his new game and tries to play but it won't let him because the Wii has yet to be updated.

    Are you saying that now Wii owners are required to have Internet access in order to update the console to let them play games?

  • Nice Update (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mmalove ( 919245 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:52PM (#25499621)

    So the motion sensor control is still whacked, but now at least I can bask in the warm fuzzy feeling of DRM creeping over nintendo hardware.

    Oh wait, no - I don't own a wii. And probably never will - if this is how they respect their customers.

  • by Shade of Pyrrhus ( 992978 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:52PM (#25499637)
    A Sicilian? On Slashdot? Inconceivable!
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:53PM (#25499649) Homepage Journal

    So if you use the homebrew firmware on the Wii, you can raid ships on the high seas?

    Exactly. If you crack your Wii for homebrew and install an NES emulator, you can play an infringing copy of the NES version of Sid Meier's Pirates! (1991) []. Just make sure to use Twilight Hack to install the DVD driver and the Homebrew Channel before you put on the new IOS.

  • by edmicman ( 830206 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:56PM (#25499705) Homepage Journal
    When will they update their Flash player? I paid 5 bucks to have big screen streaming web p-, er, videos, and all that seems to work is YouTube. WTF?
  • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:57PM (#25499725)
    if you want to think about it in terms of limiting the use of the hardware, then they're not doing anything of the sort. The only thing you get out of these fixes are online play and the ability to use their online store, both of which are value added services which require effort on the part of Nintendo to run and maintain. You're welcome to do whatever you want with the hardware, but if you don't use their firmware, you don't get to use their other services. In this case, it seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    We should be complaining about the other locked down hardware that we get, like cell phones, where we're paying for the service and the hardware and get to use neither like we'd like. The Wii could be used almost to its fullest potential without installing a single update, but you can't say that about the iphone.
  • by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:08PM (#25499945)

    I don't see it as limiting the use of your own hardware.

    It's limiting the use of your modified hardware with Nintendo's servers and software. Just because you have the ability to take hardware out of spec does not mean the original manufacturer *has* to continue to interact with your modded hardware.

    If the homebrew and various activities of questionable legality offer more value to you than Nintendo's services why even bother with Nintendo updates? Unless you want to eat your cake and have it too by expecting Nintendo to do the extra work necessary to make sure their services play nicely with your out of spec hardware and, more importantly, that your out of spec hardware plays nicely with their services.

    Now if the Wii, or any console, was touted as a general purpose computer, restricting its use would be dirty pool. Though when you purchase a console, you know you are buying a device made for a specific purpose. Perhaps you can change it to do other things, but it is rather silly and selfish to expect the manufacturer to welcome this now foreign hardware with open arms.

    For some extra disclosure, I run a cycloDS setup on my DS Lite. I got tired of having GBA carts protrude from the case. Not having to carry all the carts along (using roms made from my own carts only) is a big bonus. Now if there came a along a patch that would break compatibility with the cycloDS, I wouldn't install it, unless whatever the patch was for was worth giving up the flash carts OR purchasing a new DS to run the new firmware and whatever game or feature that needed the patch. I am totally aware of the fact that while the DS has the capability to be more of a general purpose platform that is not the way Nintendo intended it to be used and that in using such a way that it is not Nintendo's responsibility to keep their goods compatible with my modified system.

  • Anonymous Coward (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 24, 2008 @01:58PM (#25500681)

    You guys might have missed the point, or purposely ignored it.

    With the homebrew channel installed, coupled with wadinstaller and dvdX + backup loader, you can pirate virtual console / wiiware games, and play downloaded backups of retail wiiDVD games.

    The homebrew itself sucks, but being able to try before you buy is key.

    This is probably why we see this update now, as the hack has hit the mainstream and too many people are pirating wii games for nintendo to sit back and ignore it any longer.

    I fully expect to see these bug fixes included with every firmware update that comes down the intertubes.

    It's a losing battle, as someone who's already installed the homebrew and backup loaders, has no need for the wiistore anymore, as they can grab all of the games, region free, for free. Why install an update that fixes basically nothing but this?

  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:00PM (#25500703) Homepage Journal

    The difference is they have a pocketful of known exploits they can use. They only implement one. Months later it's patched out. Then they can just get out their list and see which one they're going to use next. Maybe the update eliminated one of the options, maybe it added a few more that they will discover and add to their list in the next few months. That's the difference - preparedness, turn-around time. They're doing their R&D while they already have a working exploit in place. Then when that one stops working, they've got one waiting in the wing to be polished and rolled out.

    That's the difference between when the next salvo gets fired. Own the box, wait 4 months, patch. Take another 8 days, owned again. Another 4 month wait for the next patch maybe? You can't possibly say the hackers aren't ahead of the curve here.

  • Re:Nice Update (Score:2, Insightful)

    by KaiUno ( 1110525 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @02:06PM (#25500795)
    Oh come on. You're aware of the backup loader that's circulating, right? Folks are playing games illegally via a software mod. Only thing you need is Twilight Princess to get the stuff to work. First version was a bit slow, but there's a highly anticipated followup which is being tested righ now that plays virtually every game at regular speeds. You moan about Nintendo trying to stop this? Believe me, slashdot is talking about homebrew when in actuality it's all about being able to play backups. Without the hassle of getting a chip soldered in.
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <> on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:20PM (#25501775) Homepage Journal

    Now if the Wii, or any console, was touted as a general purpose computer, restricting its use would be dirty pool.

    The failure is that since the 8-bit microcomputers of the 1980s, there really hasn't been a general purpose computer that's marketed by its manufacturer for use with a television.

  • by Piranhaa ( 672441 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:29PM (#25501887)

    You currently need this update to access the Wii Shop Channel. from []

    Umm.. So what Nintendo is basically saying is "Well, if you don't upgrade you can keep pirating but we REFUSE to let you pay for us for anything" Whoever thought that up should be fired. By doing this update, I'm sure that they're actually losing revenue from people that will not update. Of course, only until the patch gets a workaround again.

  • by khellendros1984 ( 792761 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:32PM (#25502713) Journal
    How about new games that require updates to the newest firmware? The ones that auto-update the system the first time that you stick the disk in? Sometimes, core functionality of the system requires a forced update.
  • by Doug52392 ( 1094585 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:45PM (#25502897)
    When I turned on my Wii yesterday, I had a message from Nintendo describing the updates, and specifically stating that this update will block homebrew programs. Although I was disappointed to see them block homebrew content, at least they specifically said that they were patching it, rather than not telling users, like Sony, or banning your Xbox/Xbox 360 from Xbox Live forever, like Microsoft...

panic: kernel trap (ignored)