If You Play Pirated Nintendo Switch Games Online, Nintendo Will Ban You

If You Play Pirated Nintendo Switch Games Online, Nintendo Will Ban You

Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch. But if you hack your Nintendo Switch to play pirated games for free, that comes with a cost: You can’t play online.

Photo: Pixabay

Notable Nintendo hacker ScriesM took to Reddit recently to outline the anti-piracy measures Nintendo has put in place to sniff out consoles playing pirated games and banning them from the Nintendo network – permanently.

Nintendo stores an encrypted client certificate in the “TrustZone” core of each Switch, unique to that console. When you log in, Nintendo’s servers identify your console by that certificate, which means if your Switch gets banned, it will stay banned.

As Ars Technica points out, 3DS hackers were able to fake a token to get a banned console back on the network, but that doesn’t work with the Switch.

Games, both on physical cards and digital downloads, have their own encrypted certificates that identify them as legit. In the case of downloads, the encrypted ticket that’s embedded in the game code also includes info about the console and user who purchased it.

Try to play a copy of a game that was purchased on another console and with another account, and boom, your Switch is banned. You won’t even be able to play legit games online.

Gif: David Murphy

GIF: David Murphy

All these certificates are checked when your console goes online, so if you play pirated games completely offline, Nintendo shouldn’t be able to detect it. However, that isn’t 100 per cent certain. It’s possible the console’s firmware could detect pirated games you play offline and flag your console for banning when you go back online.

Ars Technica and Reddit have more detail, but the gist is: Nintendo has gotten very good at catching players who pirate Switch games. If you want to play any Nintendo Switch games online, either don’t hack your Switch, or be incredibly careful.


  • We’re talking about the same company that allows Wii U pirates to download games and DLC for free from their servers, and can’t ban them, or stop it from happening. Give it a few months, the pirates will have worked it all out.

    • Not really.

      If you have a look at how Nintendos authentication works the only way they could get around it by having direct access to Nintendos record of all authenication codes.

      • Well, it’ll work up until the point where hackers manage to disable the parts of the OS that send this telemetry data back to Nintendo, or substitute it with “clean” telemetry.

        You likely can’t get the console’s private key out of the Trust Zone, but it might be possible to control what data the Trust Zone signs.

      • On 3DS you can easily inject the cert info from any of your legitimate games into a downloaded rom and that got past all of Nintendo’s checks. I doubt Nintendo has drastically improved their online checks, we’re talking about the same company that struggles to get an online service off the ground.

        • You should read the reddit post linked above.

          They have drastically improved their online checks.

  • reminds me of the xbox when that first came out, using a duox chip allowed me to turn off my ‘hacks’ with the flick of a button… was a simpler time

  • That’s not true cesario this is serious Nintendo will ban you if you play Nintendo Switch’s Pirated games online. Even worse the console’s firmware could detect you playing pirated video games offline and flag your console for banning when you go back online. So if you try to play a purchased game on another console and with someone else’s account you hacked into bam you and your Nintendo Switch are banned from playing online games and it will cost you not only to yourself but also your livelihood.

  • Free games vs nintendos online service most people would choose the free games and I don’t see what there achieving by banning people , there losing out even more by people downloading from the eshop or paying for there online service

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