Nintendo released firmware 11.3.0-36 yesterday, a firmware that seems to specifically target homebrew support on hacked consoles.
What does 3DS firmware 11.3 do?
The official update says:
Further improvements to overall system stability and other minor adjustments have been made to enhance the user experience
In practice however, this update blocks the 3DS Homebrew Launcher, used by 3DS owners to launch indie apps and games. Interestingly, reports from the 3DS scene indicate that the update does not block Custom Firmwares in general, only the Homebrew Launcher. In other words, this update does not attempt to block piracy, which feels backwards.
i feel like this is kind of a *** move since it targets homebrew *exclusively*. this doesn’t prevent a bunch of kernel attacks.
Specifically, the update patches all the known exploits used for homebrew, as well as the 3 years old gspwn exploit, which was the only publicly known way to inject new payloads to fix the homebrew exploits. In other words, Nintendo grew tired of playing the cat & mouse game with Smealum, and decided to fix the “problem” at its root. Homebrew exploits are patched, and so is the only way to update them.
It feels to me that Nintendo is patching this “light” unauthorized use of their console (homebrews) through technical means, while attacking the real problem, piracy, through legal action. The efficiency of this strategy is debatable: Nintendo took the notorious “freeshop” down late last year through a DMCA takedown, but clones of the service appeared almost instantly and are still being used today.
How does 3DS 11.3 impact Homebrew users and hacked console owners?
It seems this update only really blocks homebrew, and Smealum has already stated he and other hackers have a solution in the works. Plutoo and Yellows8 in particular seem to have been actively reverse engineering firmware 11.3 as soon as it came out.
In parallel, except for the loss of homebrew access (which to me is a big deal), it seems other features of Custom Firmwares are still working. In other words, updating one’s 3DS CFW to 11.3 would not break everything, only homebrew. You can check this great FAQ on GBATemp for more details.
As far as homebrew is concerned, it’s “wait and see” for now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a fix from Smealum & team appeared in the days to come.