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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 ajs ( 35943 )

      Well yes, they're resourceful, but why doesn't anyone ask the obvious question: wouldn't it be easier and less annoying to hack on a platform that enjoyed the attention? Netbooks, TiVos and many other platforms have had a loose, but affirming relationship with those who modify their hardware and software. Why not hack on those platforms instead of the ones promulgated by companies that take an anti-consumer stance toward their most dedicated users?

      • by Tatsh ( 893946 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:55PM (#25502209)

        There is a LOT of attention and appreciation for these hackers. I think these hackers love that and that they continue to be successful at cracking open basically a 'virtual safe'. They are cracking things that the companies who make the products want none of. If a company is open to user modifications, that hardly qualifies as 'cracking', as a company like that would probably release specifications, etc.

        For the individual hacker, it is definitely a feeling of 'I have beat them at their own game'. And for both the hacker and the community, it is that and a statement like 'We will continue cracking until you give us what we want'. What people want is subjective. Some strictly would like to see homebrew allowed legally on all consoles. Some would like to be able to use backups as well as legitimate copies of their games. Regardless, a very high number of the users of homebrew, modchips, and other modifications to consoles enjoy being able to play downloaded games without having to pay for them.

        These products are definitely 'defective by design'. The whole scheme of video game selling has always been to screw over a consumer. Today you cannot return a game if you legitimately dislike it after playing (ridiculous considering some are $50+). You also legally cannot make a backup copy and use that to keep the original safe 5 year olds and optical discs? As if. And when they get ruined, does the company give you a new copy when you send in your old one? Very few do. So 90% of the time you are stuck buying a new copy if you want to stay all legal.

        To the companies involved: give us at least A) homebrew ability (and free development tools and full access to the console (that means you, Sony) for at the least non-commercial use), and B) backup ability (that includes PC games!).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by aywwts4 ( 610966 )

      Twelve hours after this story was posted "from the see-how-long-that-lasts dept".....

      http://www.wiibrew.org/wiki/Wii_Shop_and_IOS51_installer [wiibrew.org]

      Wii Shop and IOS51 installer
      From WiiBrew
      Jump to: navigation, search

      Wii Shop and IOS51 installer is a very quick modification of PatchMii modified by Muzer that does one thing: It installs the new IOS51 and Wii Shop Channel, without installing the patches to all the other IOSes. This means that as long as you didn't update, you can now install this to use the Wii Shop C

  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:02PM (#25498871) Homepage Journal

    8 hours is significant because I believe for that update, Nintendo had something like a three or four month development, testing, release schedule. This is of course not out of the norm for an update that will affect millions of people, but I can't imagine how much money was put into "fixing" the homebrew problem only for it to be cracked again in hours.

    • 8 hours is significant because I believe for that update, Nintendo had something like a three or four month development, testing, release schedule.

      It was actually a half year cycle. Nintendo released IOS37, and it got a few months of production testing. Then Nintendo released IOS30 and IOS31 with the signing bug fix backported from IOS37, and it also got a few months of production testing. Now we're seeing the signing bug fix in every IOS major version.

  • 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?

    • by qoncept ( 599709 )
      What's the difference? Either they made the change to block homebrew and waited till there were other changes or just pushed it by itself. Either way, you've got AID-- er, no more homebrew software, at least temporarily.
    • by Goose42 ( 88624 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:15PM (#25499095) Homepage

      It renamed Wii Points to Nintendo Points, and added clearer warnings about what controllers you have to own in order to play a game before you purchase the game.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:24PM (#25499265) Homepage

      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?

      Many systems that work with an online service have a policy that you must have the latest version and if you don't it'll be upgraded first, even those where there's no such ulterior motive to be found. I think it's mostly a case of ease of testing and support, rather than test a huge range of versions all they need to know is that build 23425 of the client works with build 5435 of the server. If someone calls support and have a problem with the service, everything is where you'd expect things to be in the latest version. Of course to them it's not a downside that things like homebrew are blocked either, but I don't think it's the main reason.

  • 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.
    • 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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        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 geekoid ( 135745 )

      You can't have quality control, and leave bugs unpatched.

      I'd like to see your response if MS decided to leave an exploit unpatched.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        You can't have quality control, and leave bugs unpatched.

        But you can make a sandbox for amateurs to play in. That's the approach Sony took with PS3 Other OS Installer, Microsoft took with XNA Creators Club, and Apple took with iPhone SDK.

      • by Moryath ( 553296 )

        Fine, patch *bugs*. Patch all the *bugs* you want.

        Meanwhile, leave my ability to run open-source software (like the Wii port of Quake or a better, less stripped-down web browser) alone.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by marcansoft ( 727665 )

          They patched *bugs*. Which we happened to use to run homebrew.

          There has never been a way of running homebrew except via bugs.

        • by v1 ( 525388 )

          well, the "bugs" were bugs. they were security holes that allowed the otherwise unpermitted mods. so that's all the excuse they needed really.

    • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tepples ( 727027 )

        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 bonch ( 38532 )

      Remember the time when software updates added functionality and/or fixed bugs?

      There wasn't some mythical time when updates only added functionality and fixed bugs. Besides, this update does include minor changes, such as renaming Wii Points to Nintendo Points since the DSi will be using the same currency. They had to make that change anyway, and they blocked homebrew piracy in the process. It's not a big deal.

  • 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 tepples ( 727027 )
      You say you have a Wii for Super Mario Galaxy, a modded PSP for classic single-player games, and a DVD/DivX player for movies. What do you have for multiplayer indie games that don't benefit from a separate view per player?
    • I like Wii Quake. The Wiimote is a near-perfect way to play the game on my humongous living room TV screen.

    • The biggest reason is that the programs written for a console have a console controller in mind. They don't expect you to have easy access to a keyboard. Even PC apps that have native joystick support don't usually have ready access to save states or other menu functions from the controller.

      You get some of that via the PSP, but the TV and multiplayer from a TV console is a little easier, too.

      • Meant to post this in reply to the person talking about TV-out from PCs, but mis-pasted after signing in. Ah well.

      • Even PC apps that have native joystick support don't usually have ready access to save states or other menu functions from the controller.

        Complain to their publishers and tell them why you've voted with your dollars.

        But imagine a game for Windows or Linux that can be configured to bind MenuUp, MenuDown, MenuLeft, MenuRight, Start, and Back to a USB game controller. It also allows up to two-player cooperative or four-player competitive play on one PC with one monitor. Would you consider trying and possibly buying a copy of such a game, or would you reject it outright because "console-style games are for consoles"?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by arotenbe ( 1203922 )

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

      Well, you can install Ocarina and spam infinite blue shells in MarioKart Wii wifi...

    • You're missing out on doing it all on your Wii, for one thing, which may be the only system some people have, and for some, the less devices the better. Especially if you have to bring it to/from college.
  • As of the fourth quarter of 2008, most PCs have an SDTV output, HDTVs have a VGA and HDMI input, and Bluetooth dongles let the PC use Wii controllers. So what's the big draw of Wii homebrew?
    • by qoncept ( 599709 )
      That all makes sense until you try it. I thought I was all slick playing movies and NES emulators over the network on my small PC that had RCA out back in the day. But it just sucked. My modded Xbox with the same movies and emulators was 100% better a few years later.
      • by pla ( 258480 )
        That all makes sense until you try it

        True, the previous gen of ED/HDTVs with supposedly PC-compatible input connectors tended to fail miserably at actually dealing with signals from any actual PC (on my old TV, I could barely get 720p over component to work, and it would scale it down to only take up about half the screen). That no longer holds true, however. Most newer TVs have VGA, DVI, or HDMI connectors that really do work like they should.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheCycoONE ( 913189 )
      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 rmadmin ( 532701 )
      To quote a Billie Piper song "Because we want to".
  • 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?

    • Re:Blocking owners? (Score:4, Informative)

      by krakelohm ( 830589 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @12:50PM (#25499609)
      I believe games that require an update will come with the update on the game DVD as well. Mario Galaxy was this way.
    • by acvh ( 120205 )

      doubtful. if a new game requires new firmware it will most likely include it on the game disk.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No, they'll just start including the update on disks. Initally Blu-Ray required an internet connection for firmware updates, but now it went to the saner method of using the movie disk to upgrade the firmware.

      For the record, home appliance systems shouldn't need a damn firmware upgrade at all. I predict bad things will come of this.
      Specifically New Firmware that brakes the player, glitches on older movies.
      Maybe even a vector of attack from people with malicious intent.

    • All Wii discs are locked to a specific version of the IOS. This is to ease testing - you only need to test a game against the IOS it was developed to use instead of all past and future IOS releases. Games that require a higher IOS than the first IOS from launch day include the proper updates on the disc, so you're never in a position where you have to download something from the Internet but don't have an Internet connection.

    • Obviously a game which needs will come with it on the disc. Just like they always have.

  • 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?
  • sad... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by motang ( 1266566 )
    I had to take off all my homebrew apps just to do the update...it's a cat and mouse game.
  • I don't have anything custom installed on my Wii and the update failed for me.
  • by Piranhaa ( 672441 ) on Friday October 24, 2008 @03:29PM (#25501887)

    You currently need this update to access the Wii Shop Channel. from http://wiibrew.org/wiki/Wii_System_Updates [wiibrew.org]

    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.

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