Home Gaming Looks like the 3DS is open to piracy

Looks like the 3DS is open to piracy

1 min read

Nintendo’s 3DS started off slow, but it’s recently seen a global surge, thanks to great games like Luigi’s Mansion 2, Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner – Soul Hackers and my favourite game at the moment, Fire Emblem: Awakening. the surge in sales means a lot more 3rd party support – which means more great games for you. But now, there’s a spanner in the works – as it seems like somebody’s got a flashcart running on the 3DS, running downloaded ROMS.

A company claims to have created the very first 3DS flashcart capable of running 3DS “backups,” without the need to legitimately purchase software.

“The Gateway 3DS Team proudly presents the first ever video proof that many thought impossible,” they write on their website (via neoGAF) “Below we show an unedited video of the device booting 3 different backed up 3DS ROMS consecutively which are loaded on the Gateway 3DS device via microSD cards. We hope you are as excited as we are!”

No, No I’m not. Flashcarts are largely responsible for the slow demise of the original DS, which was a haven for piracy. While it did also allow for some really interesting and useful Homebrew, there’s no evidence that this new Flashcart even allows garage devs to make software for the 3DS. Nope, this is all about piracy. There’s really no reason for this device to exist. Sure, you could say that you want to play all your games without having to lug around a mess of cartridges – but nearly all 3DS games are available digitally on Nintendo’s eShop (yes, even locally!) – so that excuse just doesn’t hold.

And while, yes, this will probably drive 3Ds sales through the roof, it could end up killing support for the device. With the 3DS currently propping Nintendo up while its Wii U fails to get any tractions, it could end up killing Nintendo.

I really, really hope Nintendo can block this through firmware – but I’m not looking forward to that constant cat-and-mouse game between hackers and platform holders that usually follows.

Last Updated: July 11, 2017


  1. TiMsTeR1033

    May 31, 2013 at 12:09

    About time the figured it out lol


  2. Uberutang

    May 31, 2013 at 12:18

    They should leave it for a bit. It will sell hardware. They can block it later once they have large market share.


    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      May 31, 2013 at 12:40

      Worked for the PSP. Actually piracy essentially saved the PSP from the brink. Not so great for developers, but it sells hardware.

      Catch 22 really. You need to sell hardware to get developers/publishers on board, but then you sell more consoles as a result of piracy, but then developers don’t want to develop for it, because the Jolly Roger flies in the sky.


  3. Umar Kiiroi Senk?

    May 31, 2013 at 12:19

    R4 all over again


    • Uberutang

      May 31, 2013 at 12:20

      M3! 😛


  4. Karl Thomson

    May 31, 2013 at 12:20

    Did piracy really kill the original DS? I mean its still being sold now, and isn’t it the most successful handheld of all time?


    • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

      May 31, 2013 at 12:27

      Hardware sales? Sure! Software sales in places that aren’t Japan? Flatlined.


      • Uberutang

        May 31, 2013 at 12:42

        they need to adopt the mobile pricing model. paying more than R50 for a game on mobile is lunacy.


        • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

          May 31, 2013 at 12:46

          You can’t really compare a standard fifty buck mobile game with something like Luigi’s Mansion or Fire Emblem – which are far closer to “console” games. i do agree they’re a tad expensive though. Though it’s actually worth every damned cent, Fire Emblem cost me R450 – and i’d have been much happier to pay around R300.


          • Uberutang

            May 31, 2013 at 15:03

            Standard Mobile = Free.
            $1 to have no ads.

            AAA Mobile (be it on a phone or a handheld gaming device) should be far far cheaper than even R300.

            The market has shifted, they need to adopt or die.

          • Exalted Overlord Geoffrey Tim

            May 31, 2013 at 15:44

            Well, they do sell games on the eShop for all sorts of pricing – can pick stuff up from R20, all the way to full titles. Games like Fire Emblem aren’t really “mobile’ games in quality or scope – they just happen to be on handheld systems

          • Chuck

            October 4, 2013 at 21:01

            what’s R?

  5. Simon

    May 31, 2013 at 13:14

    Well I don’t support piracy.. but this might help me out of my own stupid mistake I made a while back… I bought Kingdom Hearts 3D and Tales of Abyss on amazon for R1000 without being aware of the region lock on the 3DS… that was a sad moment putting the game into the 3DS and it not starting up… it took me a few seconds of ‘what?’, to realize the horrible truth…


    • Uberutang

      May 31, 2013 at 15:04

      R1000 school fee paid then 😛


  6. Yobokkie

    June 3, 2013 at 11:01

    Hmmm I think this is going to be a much harder game for the hackers to win, as the 3DS has the ability to do updates, and as they release new AAA games they can easily force an update. Which is not to say it won’t then be rehacked, as happened with the Wii, but maybe if they added a little magic to the next update that bricks consoles using a hacked cart, it would be enough to scare off all but the most determined freeloaders. And yes there will be tears but technically using a cart like that is a very definite violation of the terms of service of the device, so they’d be within their rights to block the device.

    And the whole “it’s for homebrew” argument won’t hold water at all this time, as Nintendo is being more than helpful to indie developers and it’s getting easier and easier to publish and develop for the e-shop.

    The distributors also need to aggressively target people selling these carts, like here in SA if you search for r4 on bidorbuy you get pages of results, and yes technically these aren’t illegal, but a lot of those are offering a pre-loaded sd card filled with games, which is, and I’m sure the legality of these carts is something the courts might be able to argue. Maybe if the only place to buy these was shady back-alley internet sites then people would be more wary of parting with credit card details to get one.
    And saying it’s expensive doesn’t justify it. Take up a cheaper hobby. No one is forcing you to buy the games, and other hobbies don’t offer freebies. You can’t download a model train, or print a ming dynasty vase. Or if you have limited funds, spend it on a game that’s worth it and actually finish it all the way. You don’t have to have new games every week you attention-deficient game-whore you.


    • john smith

      June 3, 2013 at 11:48

      You can download model trains and print a ming dynasty vase thanks to 3D Printers. Heck you can even download a robot now http://www.thingiverse.com/hairygael/designs/page:1

      I believe that hardware should be open source like OUYA.

      Homebrew argument hold because you can now make and sell game without having to pay Nintendo squat aka free market like the PC. Expect Windows 8 die Windows long live Ubuntu.


      • Yobokkie

        June 3, 2013 at 12:01

        Ehhh no, you still gotta pay for your 3d printer AND raw materials, plus it will be made out of cheap plastic. Not real ming dynasty china. It won’t be around in 1000 years. So fail on that account.

        And whilst it’s noble that some people want to make games for free, for anyone else it’s a way to make money. How would you like it if your boss said, sorry I believe you should be doing your job for free so I’m not going to pay you anything? That decision should be the developers to make not some pseudo-communist. And this time round nintendo is being very accommodating to small developers, offering developments kits and even help to those that are legit. And if you are making homebrew to sell it anyhow, why shouldn’t nintendo get some of that money, being as you’ve used the platform they spent a lot money developing to do it on. And if truly free is what you’re after, why does it have to be on a 3ds, go for android or Ouya. And this is a moot point anyway, as this particular device only demonstrates it’s ability to pirate games, not help poor struggling indie developers who for some reason have decided the 3ds is the only device they can program for.


        • john smith

          June 3, 2013 at 12:43

          I never anything about making free games.Even if you make a game under GPL you can still charge money for it.

          Yes for now all the device can do is backup games. But this will result in other making carts to. The first DS cart wasn’t that good then later we got R4 personally I love the painting app on the R4 and playing classics games.

          How would you like it if your boss said, sorry I believe you should be
          doing your job for free so I’m not going to pay you anything?
          That analogy is wrong no one is forcing people to use it for piracy. People can still buy games if they want to.

          The reason why someone would want to go for 3DS is A it will get a lot publicity look at Pier Solar or any homebrew Dreamcast game and B the dual screen can be used to make a unique game like the world ends with you


          • Yobokkie

            June 3, 2013 at 13:42

            So again I say if they are charging for the game, why not just do it through the proper channels and get official help from nintendo too?

            You can get most classic games on the 3DS from the eshop, and more and more will be added so take those out the equation and what you’re left with is a few badly made homebrew games that no one would pay money for anyhow and if they were that good they could easily get listed on the eshop. You also don’t need a cart to play classic games if that’s really what you want. Almost any PC can play those just fine.

            How is the job analogy wrong? Because endorsing this cart will mean someone is losing out on money somewhere, maybe not specifically due to homebrew but just because this cart exists. Look at how many studios have closed down recently, not solely the fault of piracy, but it certainly doesn’t help. And yes big studios can afford to take a hit but think of some of those small studios that made games for the DS that were pirated to death, and yes that doesn’t equate to lost sales, but if even 5% of those who pirated had bought instead maybe they’d have more money to make a bigger game next time or maybe just continue to exist. People can still buy games if they want to? Hehe sure. Here’s some free stuff for you, or you could pay a lot of money for it if you wanted. Yeah some people would pay, but most people won’t ever say no to “free”. And I apply that fully to myself as well. I would much rather have a game and R500 instead of just a game.

            The examples you use are for long-abandoned systems, where the official channels no longer exist. Slightly different scenario as they are not selling new systems anymore and if they were those games could have got an official release. Besides If it’s “publicity” you want, why not use the correct channels and get publicity on official and legitimate sites? A few mentions in some back room homebrew forum will not compare.

            Basically what you’re saying is that because five people might make something worthwhile by having access to the software, that they could probably get from nintendo if they approached them through the correct channels, the floodgates should be opened for all the cheapskate majority to do as they please? And don’t kid yourself for a minute, because while I’m sure you are a very noble communist who only shares things that are genuinely free most people aren’t. Even if the impact from piracy is minimal the perception of game makers is important and I really can’t see how the possibility that a good homebrew game might come out of it is enough justification for the end result of crappier games and less of them.

          • john smith

            June 3, 2013 at 15:33

            Piracy at least non-commercial is not communism http://questioncopyright.org/ and http://www.turnstyle.org/FreeCulture/ .The My little Pony comics are easy to download yet they make a lot of money know my because of having loyal fanbase at least before the entire Twilight Alicorn Fiasco. Don’t call me a communist how would you like it if I called you a censorship and monopoly supporter. Copyright shouldn’t last for more than 5 years, people should have the right to make derivative works and remixes even for commercial use like doujin. There is a reason why creative commons and GPL exist. The video game industry makes billion of dollars so I don’t see piracy the problem. The reason why companies are going bankrupt is because entertainment is now extremly cheap aka youtube, mobile market etc and there are many legally free entertainment available now.

          • Yobokkie

            June 3, 2013 at 16:11

            Hehe well those sites make for interesting reading sure, but taking your ideals and forcing them onto other people is a cornerstone of communism. It’s the person who makes a game who should decide. If you are taking something someone else has worked to product and giving it to another for free that is worse than communism because you are not even giving them anything in return. And yeah I don’t agree with certain company’s policies (EA COUGH) but I do think nintendo is really trying to give indie developers a platform and piece of the pie. (Some of the most fun I’ve had has been from indie games from the eshop.) So why should we spit on that and encourage a device that will let people take what they want from them?
            Gaming is bigger than ever, more people are playing more games than ever, the problem is not because of competition from other media but because the average gamer is demanding higher quality games at a cheaper price and then simply taking it if they feel like it. When in fact by doing that we are perpetuating a cycle of lower quality games and “safe” sequels. It’s ridiculous. It’s like pissing in a tank of petrol and then complaining when it’s not pure petrol that comes out. And the ratio of pissers to purchasers is too damn high.
            I do agree though that copyright on digital things should be shortened. Not that’s it’s relevant in this case as the 3ds is younger than even made up abandonware/ copyright laws.

          • Alenthas

            October 13, 2013 at 01:39

            You have a retarded understanding of communism mate.

      • Chuck

        October 4, 2013 at 21:04

        how do you make a ming vase? do 3d printers print porcelain as well? omg


  7. iPrimal

    June 3, 2013 at 23:14

    you can only load one rom on the sd card at a time. I hope that is fixed.


  8. john smith

    June 4, 2013 at 03:58

    I made a comment but it didn’t get published.


    • Gavin Mannion

      June 4, 2013 at 06:39

      May have been picked up by the spam filter.. I’ll go see if I can find it


  9. Idiot

    April 12, 2014 at 05:04

    “Get it in Eshop”
    You are an idiot if you can’t realize that not all games can be bought there. There’s Fire Emblem gba, Pokemon Emerald, Golden Sun etc. I just want to buy the flash cart to enjoy these games on my 3ds because apparently Nintendo is too retarded to realize they can’t keep milking the mainstream franchises and need to satisfy other loyal fans of underrated franchises.


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