Nintendo Switch: the race to reverse engineer Team Xecuter’s piracy CFW
The Nintendo Switch has been hacked wide open for a few months, but, somewhat surprisingly, options to actually pirate games have not massively surfaced yet.
That was, until Team Xecuter released their “SX” Custom Firmware a few days ago: allegedly, the hacking team’s CFW makes it very easy to load pirated Switch games, which are already widely available on the usual warez and torrent sites.
SX CFW seems to be the easier solution to pirate Nintendo Switch games currently
Although some users of SX have complained that not all games work (a list on Reddit, at the time of writing, actually has yet to name a single backup game that accepts to load on SX OS), according to many the CFW delivers on its promise to be an easy solution for pirates.
This is not to say “open source” solutions don’t exist for piracy on the Nintendo Switch. A thread on GBATemp has been going on for about a week where a few tinkerers are leveraging some of the existing open source hacking tools in order to run backups. The technique consists in tricking the Nintendo switch by hijacking a game for which a proper license is owned, and redirecting it to load a “backup” of a different game.
But given the 40+ pages (and growing) length of the thread discussing “open source” backup loading on the Switch, and with many people complaining the technique is too complex, it seems Team Xecuter’s solution is a much easier option so far for pirates.
A Race to reverse engineer SX CFW
Multiple hackers have shared scripts and tools to help with reverse engineering Team Xecuter’s custom firmware. But not everyone has the same goals: some hackers have already called out that they don’t want Team Xecuter to profit from piracy and might be willing to get the thing reverse engineered in order to kill their business, while others are probably looking to replicate the backup loading functionality from their custom firwmare.
A few veteran hackers from the Switch scene have shared a few tools to help those who want to reverse engineer the code from Team Xecuter. Naehrwert for example has shared a script to unpack the custom firmware, and that script was later updated by Hexkyz for version 1.1 of Team Xecuter’s software. There has also been a stream of announcement from multiple people claiming they were close to decrypting the custom firmware. None of these seem to have led to anything concrete (a public release) yet.
The issues with SX CFW
A few people have warned against using the SX custom firmware. An early version of their custom firmware has been reported to burn the fuses on the console in some cases, which is an irreversible change. Although Team Xecuter state they have now fixed the issue, this confirms once again that running unverified hacks on your console can lead to bad outcomes.
This is not the only concern with the proprietary piracy CFW. Others are concerned that the requirement to activate the pirate OS online puts some of their information at risk. It is difficult to say for sure that some of the users information doesn’t end up in the hands of Team Xecuter, or in Nintendo’s, intentionally or not. With clear warnings from SciresM about the risks of playing pirated Switch games online, some users of SX are probably playing a dangerous game.
Despite all the problems surrounding the SX release, and the fact that open source solutions have been around to hack the Switch for a while now, it seems that the appeal of piracy is a very strong one: multiple resellers of the SX OS are apparently having a hard time keeping up with order volumes, and prospective buyers having to wait longer than expected to get their license code for SX OS.
Note: for obvious reasons I am not linking to thread or sites that explain how to pirate games on your Nintendo Switch. As always, thanks for your understanding