CYBER Podcast: Inside the Messy World of Nintendo Switch Hacking

Learn how games like 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate' get pirated.

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Dec 3 2018, 2:15pm

Image: Cathryn Virginia

This week, the hotly anticipated Super Smash Bros. on Switch will finally hit shelves, but for weeks, pirates and hackers have already had access to the game. On this week’s episode of CYBER, we talk to Motherboard Senior Staff Writer Joseph Cox who embedded within the Switch piracy community to find out exactly how these games end up in the wild.

But he found there’s much more to the scene than just a free version of Zelda or Mario.

There’s doxing of developers; malware deployed to steal peoples’ files and disable their consoles; and intense rivalries between different piracy groups. As we discuss, these battles are quite reminiscent of 90s hacking crews, except these centre around the latest video games.

We also talk about the cat-and-mouse between Nintendo and the pirates, with each going a step further to try and protect or break the systems. Then there’s the complex supply chain involved in getting a pirated game onto peoples’ consoles, which involves hackers creating different sorts of software to obtain and eventually run the games.

“These guys are insanely passionate about Nintendo, its hardware, its software, and its games. And that comes out through the form of—they want to understand how this console works,” Cox said.

CYBER is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, every podcast app, Soundcloud, and as a direct MP3 download.