Even the current generation of consoles is not immune to piracy. The Wii especially is a big target for pirates, thanks to a large user base.
Just months after the launch of the Wii in November 2006, crafty developers had created a modchip that allows the console to run bootleg game copies. Nintendo responded by making its hardware more difficult to interface with modifications, though not impossible.
Up to this point, however, most piracy occurred on the physical media level. Pirates would create near-duplicates of retail discs.
The latest development is now in digital downloads. Last month, the console hacking community successfully extracted Wii Virtual Console titles. Through the use of a special WAD packer that would make the Virtual Console download installable on a Wii that did not originally purchase the title.
The ability to rip and install Virtual Console titles led to the latest effort this month to bring WiiWare titles onto unauthorized Wiis. Thus far, only a couple of WiiWare titles from Japan (a ping pong game and Pokemon game) have been ripped and released on the Internet.
With the use of a patching tool, the Japanese WiiWare titles are made playable on North American Wii consoles.
While it’s safe to say that most of the recent Wii hacking will lead to piracy of paid downloads, a segment of console modders will put their efforts towards homebrew applications. In fact, modders have posted a YouTube video showing off an early version of a homebrew channel that could run applications such as ScummVM.