The Nintendo Switch is one of the most innovative gaming consoles to launch of late but, like any gaming device, it isn’t immune to one of the entertainment industry’s biggest problem: piracy. Many companies have tried different methods of fighting or discouraging piracy, often at the expense of inconveniencing legit users. Nintendo, however, may have come up with a nearly foolproof method that would ban such pirates from playing games online or even ban them from Nintendo Network for good.
While Nintendo will probably never confirm the exact details of its anti-piracy system, Redditor SciresM paints a rather detailed overview of what is involved. In a nutshell, Nintendo performs a series of checks whenever a Switch user tries to play a game online. One of the things it checks for is a game’s unique certificate, a secret, encrypted, and very unique piece of data that will tell Nintendo’s servers if a game is a pirated copy or not. As you might guess, Nintendo will not allow the Switch to connect if it is.
But it might actually go further than that. Before Nintendo even checks the game’s authenticity, it first checks if the Switch is actually able to connect to the Nintendo Network. If the servers detect that the Switch has previously tried to connect online with a pirated game, it will actually block the device from connecting at all. This means that pirates may be banned not just from playing one pirated game online but from the entire Nintendo Network itself.
SciresM’s analysis doesn’t answer if pirated games will continue functioning offline. It also does seem to be a rather heavy-handed system if the user is permanently banned from the Nintendo Network. Then again, it could effectively scare off gamers from such practices. Only problem if they will be unwitting victims of fraud.
As Nintendo hasn’t acknowledged the system, it is also unknown if such users will have any recourse of appealing their punishment. Nintendo’s hands are almost tied behind its back given how hackers and modders are spreading the word on a Switch exploit that Nintendo can’t fix without making a Switch v2 with fixed hardware.