The so-called “Nintendo Ninjas” are back at it again, on the hunt for hackers. Or, in this case, hack sellers. In a report from Polygon, Nintendo has filed a lawsuit in Seattle court which charges Le Hoang Minh, an Amazon seller who has been offering an inventory of items called RCM Loaders.
These RCM Loaders are used to inject custom software into the Switch via USB. While Polygon’s initial report states that the RCM Loaders can be used to allow for the bypassing of Nintendo’s systems in order to play unauthorized software on a Switch console, some commenters have a different story. As some point out, the RCM Loaders are only part of the tools needed for “jailbreaking” the Switch and getting it to play pirated media. The RCM Loader on its own, however, apparently is just useful enough to upload custom firmware to the Switch, essentially allowing it to run mods and homebrew applications. With this being the case, it appears that the RCM Loaders may inherently be nefarious devices. Nevertheless, Nintendo is still pursuing legal action.
Law and order
Even if the RCM Loaders are technically legal, Nintendo is still likely trying to knock resellers like Hoang Minh out on the grounds of selling products that make unauthorized modifications to the company’s property. Console modifications have never been looked upon in a positive light by manufacturers, and Nintendo by far seems to have the longest history with trying to snuff out the light of this underground community as much as possible.
Nintendo cites that the Switch hacking scene is a “serious, worsening international problem”, pointing squarely at software piracy as being a product of Switch hacking. While the number of modified Switch systems out there playing pirated games is likely dwarfed to a massive extent by legitimate customers, the Big N clearly wants as little of it as possible.
Earlier this year, Nintendo slammed members of the infamous Switch hacking group Team Xecuter with lawsuits. Team Xecuter became notorious for selling tools for Switch hacking with the intent of allowing piracy, so those cases were even more serious than the one being fought today. As of now, Hoang Minh’s RCM Loaders have been delisted from Amazon. But, there are other resellers out there. And as long as the Switch continues to be a viable platform, there will be more members of the hacking community actively trying to keep the Switch “open”. True, not all have nefarious intentions; many simply want to do interesting things with their consoles via homebrew, or straight-up outlandish things like running Android on the system. Even so, Nintendo paints all hacking with the same brush, so legal situations like this will no doubt continue, especially if piracy is legitimately involved.
Some may recall that just a few short years ago, Nintendo went after the owner of LoveROMS and LoveRetro with a massive $100 million lawsuit, in which it was awarded at least $12 million.
The fallout from that event went as far as to drive the operators of EmuParadise, a once-popular website for downloading emulators and games, to remove all downloadable game files from its servers. This reaction shows that those involved in emulation do pay attention when companies “throw the book” as it may at other members of the community, even if they’re not directly related. This is likely part of Nintendo’s strategy. It knows it can’t feasibly go after everyone involved, but it chases different ones around to make examples and send loud, indirect messages. Even if this doesn’t stop the show within the hacking community, it does seem to cause a few to get up and leave the building while the “going is still good”.