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Nintendo Responds to New Wii U Console Hack

Eurogamer reports that the group responsible for the first Wii mod chip has finally hacked the Wii U so that owners can play copied games. The group said on May 1 that it has reversed the process of authenticating the Wii U drive, disk encryption, file system, and everything else needed for a next generation key called WiiKey U.

According to the team, WiiKey U is billed as the first and only optical drive emulator that allows the console owner to play all Wii U games from any USB media, and is compatible with all Wii U models from all regions. It features multi-language support, an embedded Linux system, a high-speed USB 2.0 interface, a recovery mode and more.

"This looks like a variation on the optical drive emulators that appeared first on Xbox 360 - where the drive firmware was easily decrypted - and then latterly on PS3, which was much more of an effort to reverse-engineer," said Digital Foundry's Richard Leadbetter.

Leadbetter pointed out that Nintendo should be highly concerned that the comms traffic between the Wii U and the drive has been hacked so quickly. "In theory, the firmware on the drive can be rewritten with a new, secured version via a Wii U system update and thus nullify the device, but the question is how the WiiKey team reverse-engineered the system in the first place," he added.

Unless Nintendo finds out what the WiiKey group used as an exploit, additional hackers could issue a system update for their own hardware and "piracy will continue with barely a pause" as described by Leadbetter.

After reports of the WiiKey U surfaced, Nintendo acknowledged the group's Wii U hack but said the system that blocks pirated games in the Wii U console currently remains secure.

"Nintendo is aware that a hacking group claims to have compromised Wii U security," a spokesperson told Eurogamer. "However, we have no reports of illegal Wii U games nor unauthorized applications playable on the system while in Wii U mode. Nintendo continuously monitors all threats to its products' security and will use technology and will take the necessary legal steps to prevent the facilitation of piracy."

Naturally the WiiKey U group responded to Nintendo's statement… with a few lines of code:

57 55 50 2D 50 2D 41 52 50 50 2D 30 30 2D 31 30
31 45 55 52 2D 32 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00
00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 00

Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then, he’s loved all things PC-related and cool gadgets ranging from the New Nintendo 3DS to Android tablets. He is currently a contributor at Digital Trends, writing about everything from computers to how-to content on Windows and Macs to reviews of the latest laptops from HP, Dell, Lenovo, and more. 

  • hairystuff
    it was only a matter of time, I wonder if sales will improve now.
  • MajinCry
    @Hairy: Most likely. I'm now tempted to nab one, especially at the £150 price point. Since the PS1 (My first console), I've not bought a console that can't play backups; UK law actually states that the ability to use a backed up piece of software is a requirement of hardware devices. Now that the WiiU can play backups...
  • nino_z
    Sweet...I might even consider buying it now. I dont get why they fight against it so much. There are so many people like me who would only buy the system if it can be jailbroken.
  • Shaun o
    I would think the sales of the units would improve for nintendo.
    Sadly this may force less games company's to make games for the console over time as well.
  • jamesjones_det
    Not every exciting if they were trying to send a message in ASCII/UTF
  • mobrocket
    problem they could face is piracy of games
    selling consoles isnt where the money is at, its how many games people buy for that console
    attach rate
    xbox 360 won the console are of this current gen cus they had the highest attach rate
  • gsxrme
    Wa? people are going to steal all of Nintendo's games for the Wii U .... all 8 of them! oh NOES!
    My Wii U is nothing more than a Netflix paperweight that my 3 year old daughter uses to watch Dora, Nintendo let me down HUGE!
  • NuclearShadow
    The current game line up isn't even worth pirating so why waste money on the Wii U console itself?
  • dark_lord69
    All of a sudden the Wii U sounds like a worthwhile system!
    Hacked instantly, just like the Sega Dreamcast!
    "The current game line up isn't even worth pirating so why waste money on the Wii U console itself?"
    -Yeah, maybe the new Mario game but other than that, there's nothing worth playing on that system
  • kin3000
    Console makers fight against piracy so much because they usually sell their consoles at a loss in hopes of recuperating the cost through the sales of software (games). Though I'm not sure if that has been the case for Nintendo, but Microsoft and Sony have been selling their consoles at a loss for years.