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The Pros and Cons of the Nintendo Wii U Being Hacked

It was only a matter of time before someone sat down with the Wii U for long enough to crack it open and open up the floodgates. That is exactly what has happened as the WiiKey crew have announced that the WiiKey U is now a “reality.” This means different things to different people, as it appears that it will only really do a few things, one of which being running games off of a USB drive. That is, at its heart, piracy, something that we’ve seen companies go to extremes to protect against.

While piracy is inherently bad and does cost developers, publishers and even the hardware manufacturers money in the long run, there are pros and cons that come with something like that Wii U being cracked finally.

Pros:

  • Piracy. If you are into piracy, you’ll probably be happy to know that soon you might be able to download games to your heart’s desire, toss them onto a USB drive and play them. This just means that you’ll probably have to keep your Wii U offline forever to avoid firmware updates, though.
  • System Sales. People who normally wouldn’t have purchased a Wii U would probably purchase one at the thought of free games.
  • Homebrew. It is said that the WiiKey U doesn’t support homebrew yet, but chances are that there might soon be someone crafty enough to figure out boot sequences, etc. to get homebrew apps and games up and running.
  • Region Free. This might not work yet, nobody really knows yet, but there is a possibility of being able to play games from other regions using the WiiKey U.

 

Cons:

  • Piracy. If games start being pirated en-mass it will be difficult for third party developers to want to push forward in publishing games for the Wii U knowing that their work will just be pirated.
  • The “Dreamcast Effect.” I made this point earlier in the week, but there are some striking similarities between the Dreamcast and the Wii U. Part of the downfall of the Dreamcast was how easy it was to pirate games on it.
  • Nintendo Scrambling. This means constant firmware updates to fight this unlocker as well as any other form of unlocker that comes out. For those that are doing nothing wrong it will become a nuisance. Do you really want Nintendo focusing on fighting piracy as opposed to making the whole Wii U experience better for everyone?

 

So while there are some pros in this situation, most of the legitimate ones like temporary surges in hardware sales and homebrew are outweighed by looking at what has happened to other consoles that were cracked in the past and how it either ruined them or have forced the hardware manufacturers to constantly update the system to thwart hacking attempts. It will be interesting to watch this situation as it unfolds over the next few weeks, as these hackers might not have a permanent solution, or at least one that they could sell, and this could all go away.

Nintendo will have to remain diligent to ensure the integrity of their console, which is already not performing as well as they would have liked it to. This could turn into a major headache for Nintendo.

Dave Walsh is a well-known combat sports journalist specializing in Kickboxing and also works as a freelance journalist specializing in gaming and entertainment.