Thursday, March 8, 2007

To mod or not to mod, that is the question

The first modchips for the Nintendo Wii are now available for purchase and offers of "professional" modding have started to appear. In connection with this I had a discussion with a friend and fellow Wii-owner about wether it is a good idea to have a modchip installed this early in the game.

My friend can't wait to mod his Wii but personally I've chosen to wait, and I'll probably wait for quite a while too. Being the owner of a severely modded and highly treasured Xbox this might seem like odd behavior, but let me explain.

I firmly believe that it should be the right of every consumer to do what ever he/she likes with any piece of hardware that he/she buys. Unfortunately most hardware manufacturers, especially those making video game consoles, don't share this view of consumer rights. This is understandable in a way, since (and I'm being realistic here) the primary reasons for installing modchips is wanting to be able to run "backups of your games" (most likely pirated copies downloaded from the internet) and imported games, and this is exactly the kind of behavior that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony want to thwart.

Since modchips are considered the enemy by the console manufacturers and the game makers they will naturally try and fight this. With both the Xbox 360 and the Wii receiving software updates
via internet connectivity they now also have a good channel for distributing their counterattack. So what's to say that Nintendo doesn't find a way to make life difficult for anyone that goes ahead and installs a modchip in their Wii by bundling software for this purpose in the next channel update for example? Sure, several of the modchips boast a "stealth mode" but do we know exactly how this "stealth mode" works or if it works at all? What's to say that Nintendo doesn't find a way to trick the "stealth mode" once they've gotten to know a little more about the modchips? Oh yes, you can be damn sure that the people at Nintendo will have ordered and dissected every kind of modchip available already and they will continue to do so with any new or updated chips that appear.

Imagine that you install a modchip and are all happy going about with your "backup games", homebrew antics and whatever else, and then one day an update locks you out of the Shopping Channel or disables some other feature in your Wii. Not fun, not fun at all, but not an unlikely scenario none the less.

So what I'm saying is that I choose to wait and let other people find out how good these modchips are. In a year or so when we know more, especially about Nintendo's attitude towards it all and how hard they will fight it, I might spend the money and get my Wii modded. The sole reason being, of course, that I wanna be able to play backups of my store-bought games ;-)

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