Reviewers have begun receiving their copies of the MIG Switch Flash Cart for the Nintendo Switch. Most people who have received their review copies have confirmed that the device works as expected (it will play Switch game “backups” on any Switch model), with one notable exception being a MIG Switch cart that didn't seem to work at all from one reviewer (Video below). There are still questions about the risks of having one console or account banned by Nintendo, for using the MIG Switch
What is a MIG switch?
The MIG Switch is a flash cart for the Nintendo Switch that can store and load multiple “spare” games on any revision of the console. Even if the MIGSwitch is advertised as a “backup and development device,” there is no doubt that its primary purpose is to pirate Switch games.
Although it's actually possible to hack any Switch model, the technology for doing so on the latest consoles involves soldering a modchip. Once done, this works great, but the procedure is not for the faint of heart. In comparison, a MIG converter is more limited, more risky (ban risk), and more expensive, but much easier to use. As such, for people who are not confident in their welding skills, or don't want to pay a third party to do the welding for them, the MIG Switch remains a viable alternative.
For the homebrew scene, part of the interest in the MIG Switch is understanding how the team behind the device was able to get around some of the Switch's security measures, and whether or not the scene will be able to reverse engineer the MIG Switch (which is likely It should also be encrypted. There's also an aura of mystery surrounding the MIG Switch team themselves, who claim to be from Russia but are probably quite old. “3 years in prison was not enough” Team Xecuter, back to hurt more.
The MIG switch works as advertised, most of the time. There are still concerns about the ban
Reviewers, including some YouTubers, have already received their devices. YouTuber Alien Retro Gaming in particular has a video showing off the device and answering some questions.
Overall, all reviewers who have gotten the MG Switch agree that the device works as advertised. However, NanoSpeedGamer reported that its MIG Switch device crashed after updating it to firmware 1.0.8. (Released 2 days ago on MIG Switch).
The dangers of Nintendo banning the use of the MIG Switch
Most people on the scene remain concerned about the risks of being banned from using the device.
As we know, each cartridge has a unique certificate, which is required to play games on Switch, and MIG Switch does not go beyond that. This means that if you copy someone's game and their certificate, Nintendo can now tell that the same certificate is being used twice on different consoles.
No one (except Nintendo itself) knows exactly how Nintendo checks for abusive use of a certain certificate.
If a single certificate is used by thousands of consoles around the world (such as if it is shared publicly on a piracy site), it is very likely that the consoles, or the certificate itself, will be banned from the Nintendo Network. (Whether you can live with that is a different discussion, but be aware that banned consoles lose a lot of their value on the used market)
However, obviously sharing your game with a friend or family member, or reselling a game on the used market, are all perfectly acceptable use cases. So a given certificate will appear in multiple consoles at different points in time, in normal usage situations. This raises questions about the risks of purchasing a used game, if it has been copied for piracy purposes in the past. Will this get you (or your newly acquired game) banned, even though you are a legitimate user?
The ARG offers some explanations on how to use this device for hacking: it mentions that each cartridge has a unique certificate, but in its tests, the certificate was not tied to a specific game. Specifically, it is I was able to play a copy of Hogwarts Legacy with a Mario Kart certification. In other words, it seems possible for people to use one legitimate certificate they have for multiple games. Or store a bunch of legitimate certificates from cheap games to reuse in pirated copies.
It is of course very possible that Nintendo will be able to detect that a particular certificate has not been used for the correct game, in which case the result will again be, you guessed it, a ban.
I have absolutely no doubt that people will unconsciously use the device for hacking, and that a ban will come. The question, of course, is whether only the “dumb” pirates will be caught, or whether even those who are careful enough to only use backups of their games will eventually be banned.
I also see people saying “I don't care, my console is already banned”. But if your console is already locked, that means you can already play CFW on the console, so you probably won't need this device.
The switch error code for using a blocked certificate is 0x1F727C — 2124-4025. (source)
MIG Switch Reverse engineering voltage
I'm sure some people on the scene are hard at work trying to reverse engineer a MIG switch. Although the device doesn't seem very useful to me (I personally think that modified chips are a vastly superior solution currently, especially if you consider the price of the MIG Switch + Cartridge dumper, which shipped as a package will cost about $150), As a technical breakthrough, it will be interesting to see what kind of security the device is able to bypass.
In an attempt to delay reverse engineering efforts, TX appears to have deleted the IDs of some chips on the device, as noted by several reviewers:
Not surprisingly, the firmware of the MIG switch is encrypted. It will take some hardware and effort to monitor and dump the firmware while it is actually running on the MIG Switch, in order to unlock it.
No, lol. Unsurprisingly, the update binaries are hardcoded, so it would require scrapping whatever is running on the actual chips (which will very likely be a low-cost FPGA for LSI game card emulation and an MCU for general management stuff).
– Mike Heskin (@hexkyz) January 19, 2024
There is no doubt that this device will eventually reveal its secrets. I'm not entirely sure we'll see versions of it, considering its limited usefulness (in my opinion). The MIG Switch reminds me somewhat of the Vita Black Fin (not in how it works, but certainly in its goals and the risks it carries), a device that ultimately never made it to the market (at least the MIG Switch did).
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