Nintendo Disables Free 3DS Game Downloads Via eShop Clone

  • An exploit which allowed Nintendo console owners to download games from the Nintendo eShop for free has been patched.
  • The exploit was predominantly used by the 3DS for years and also the WiiU and Switch.
  • The open source homebrew eShop alternative is no longer available, but 3DS piracy is still at large.

The Nintendo 3DS is one of the most popular consoles ever to release, and despite Nintendo’s efforts, piracy on the console has been rampant. The eShop platform which allows Nintendo console owners access to the company’s library of games contained an exploit which allowed anyone to download all 3DS games for free.

The homebrew version of the Nintendo eShop was available on the 3DS for a long time along with the Wii U and the current flagship console, the Nintendo Switch. While normally users would be required to plug in their 3DS handheld’s SD card to a computer and transfer games, the FreeShop made it convenient for users by allowing direct downloads from official servers.

The exploit took advantage of Nintendo allowing owners of legitimate games the ability to redownload games they own from the eShop. The homebrew version simply spoofed the authentication “title keys” which tricked the Nintendo eShop into allowing downloads directly from the official servers. Nintendo’s authentication system looked for the title keys only on the 3DS consoles instead of the online user accounts, making it easily exploitable. The FreeShop simply stored legitimate title keys on homebrew handhelds, and the eShop servers were tricked into thinking owners with the illegal software had all the games in their library.

With a recent update to the eShop fixing the exploit, jailbroken 3DS devices will no longer be able to download games from the official servers. However, the ROMs are freely available online for users to download and install on their handhelds. With Nintendo recently taking action against ROM and emulation websites, things may get difficult for users over time to get access to pirated games for jailbroken Nintendo consoles. The war against piracy is far from over for Nintendo as a hardware vulnerability allowed its flagship Switch console to be jailbroken, allowing users access to custom firmware, pirated games and other features that are not available officially.

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