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The MIG Switch works as advertised for the most part, but concerns remain around ban risks – Wololo.net

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Reviewers have started receiving their copies of the MIG Switch flashcart for Nintendo Switch. Most of the folks who have received their review copies confirmed the device works as expected (it will run Switch game “backups” on any Switch model), with one notable exception of a MIG Switch cart that doesn’t seem to work at all for one of the reviewers (video below). Questions remain around the risks of getting one console’s or account banned by Nintendo, for using the MIG Switch

What is the MIG Switch

The MIG Switch is a flashcart for the Nintendo Switch, that can store and load multiple “backup” games on any revision of the console. Even if the MIGSwitch is advertised as a “back-up and development device”, there is no question that its primary purpose is Switch game piracy.

Mig Switch flashcarts – source skinpixel

Although it is already possible to hack basically any Switch model, the technique to do so on most recent consoles involve soldering a modchip. Once done this works great, but the procedure is not for the faint of the heart. By comparison, the MIG Switch is more limited, more dangerous (risk of ban), and more expensive, but much, much easier to use. As such, for people who don’t trust their soldering skills, or don’t want to pay a 3rd party to do the soldering for them, the MIG Switch remains a valid alternative.

For the homebrew scene, part of the interest in the MIG Switch lies in understanding how the team behind the device managed to defeat some of the Switch’s security, and whether or not the scene will be able to reverse engineer the MIG Switch (which is probably encrypted). There’s also an aura of mystery around the MIG Switch team themselves, who claim to be from Russia but are probably just good old “3 years in jail wasn’t enough” Team Xecuter, back for more mischief.

The MIG Switch works as advertised, for the most part. Concerns about bans remain

Reviewers, including some youtubers, have already received their device. Youtuber Alien Retro Gaming in particular has a video showcasing the device, and answering a few questions.

 

Generally speaking, all reviewers who have received the MG Switch agree that the device works as advertised. NanoSpeedGamer, however, mentioned that his MIG Switch got bricked after updating it to firmware 1.0.8. (released two days ago on the MIG Switch site).

Risks of Nintendo bans for using the MIG Switch

Most folks on the scene remain concerned about risks of bans for using the device.

As we know, each single cartridge has a unique certificate, which is required for games to run on the Switch, and the MIG Switch doesn’t bypass that. This means that if you copy someone’s game and their certificate, Nintendo can now see that the same certificate is being used twice in different consoles.

Nobody (but Nintendo themselves) knows exactly how Nintendo checks for abusive use of a given certificate.

If a single certificate is being used by thousands of consoles around the world (as it would be if it was shared publicly on a pirate site), it is very likely that the consoles, or the certificate itself, could be banned from Nintendo’s Network. (Whether you can live with that is a different discussion, but be aware that banned consoles lose a lot of value on the second-hand market)

However, obviously sharing your game with a friend or family members, or reselling a game on the second-hand market, are all perfectly acceptable use cases. So a given certificate will show up in multiple consoles at different points in time, in normal use cases. This brings questions about the risks of buying a second hand game, if it has been copied for piracy purposes in the past. Would that get you (or your newly acquired game) banned, even though you’re a legitimate user?

ARG gives some clarification on how this device could potentially be used for piracy: he mentions that each cartridge has a unique certificate, but that in his tests, the certificate isn’t tied to a specific game. Specifically, he managed to run a copy of Hogwarts Legacy with a Mario Kart certificate. In other words, it sounds like it could be possible for people to use either a single legit certificate that they own, for multiple games. Or hoard a bunch of legit certificates from cheap games, to reuse for pirated copies.

It is of course very likely that Nintendo are able to detect that a given certificate is not used for the right game, in which case the result would again be, you guessed it, a ban.

I have absolutely no doubt that people will mindlessly use the device for piracy, and that bans will be coming. The question of course is whether only the most “dumb” pirates will get caught, or if even those cautious enough to only use backups of their own games will get banned eventually.

I also see people saying “I don’t care, my console is already banned”. But if your console is already banned, it means you can already run CFW on the console, so you most likely don’t need this device.

The Switch error code for using a banned certificate is 0x1F727C — 2124-4025. (source)

MIG Switch Reverse engineering effort

I’m certain that some folks on the scene are hard at work to try and reverse engineer the MIG Switch. Even though the device doesn’t sound super useful to me (I personally think modchips are a vastly superior solution currently, in particular if you consider the price of the MIG Switch + Cartridge dumper, which shipped as a bundle will cost almost $150), as a technical breakthrough it would be interesting to see what security the device manages to bypass.

In an attempt to delay reverse engineering effort, it appears TX have scratched off the identifiers of some of the chips on the device, as shown by multiple reviewers:

Identifiers on the MIG Switch chips have been scratched off, possibly to delay reverse engineering attempts – screenshot taken from NanoSpeedGamer’s video on Youtube

Unsurprisingly, the firmware of the MIG Switch is encrypted. It will take a bit of hardware and elbow grease to monitor and dump the firmware while it’s actually running on the MIG Switch, in order to crack it open.

There’s no doubt though that ultimately this device will reveal its secrets. I’m not entirely sure we’ll see clones of it though, considering its limited (in my opinion) usefulness. The MIG Switch kinda reminds me of the Vita Black Fin (not in how it operates, but certainly with its goals and the risks it carries), a device that ultimately never even reached the market (at least the MIG Switch did make it to the market).





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