Japan Makes Console Modding, Saved Data Modification Illegal

Nintendo Switch

The Unfair Competition Prevention Law has been updated with a very vague amendment that makes it illegal to circumvent technical restriction or safeguard measures on home console or hardware devices, as well as utilizing tools to modify saved game data, or software that allows you to circumvent standard security measures in order to transfer, share, or remodel game data using tools that aren’t directly licensed from the product maker.

Nintendo Soup picked up the news after being alerted to the change in the law, which was broadcast via the Japanese website ACCS.

The general gist of it is that tools, software, or circumvention measures used to get around content protection, those designed to “obstruct the technical restrictions”, or those designed to reassign the operation of those measures, has been deemed “unfair competition”.

This means that cheat tools, save game editors, hex editors, softmods, hardware mods, DRM circumvention software, or serial code breakers, serial code crackers, or serial code manipulation tools, are all illegal now in Japan.

Technically, however, DRM circumvention was made illegal previous to this latest amendment. As mentioned in the ACCS article…

“ Technical restriction means technology to prevent unauthorized copying or unauthorized viewing of content without permission, such as music, movies, game software, business software etc.


“In the law before the revision, we regulated the act of transferring equipment and programs that invalidate the effect of the technical restriction measures applied to the contents.”

The console modding wasn’t specifically mentioned, but it does mention that modifying or changing save data or the game equipment in order to change the software was prohibited. So console modding didn’t have to be named in order to fit the bill. This comes after the Switch was hacked in early 2018 and cheaters began running rampant in online Switch titles such as Splatoon 2, as reported by Nintendo Enthusiast.

However, the revision explicitly points out on multiple occasions that save game tools are illegal.

[Update 1/6/2019:] Apparently some Japanese outfits have stopped selling save game editors for the PS4 in light of the news, such as Cyber Gadget, which discontinued its PS4 save game editor, with a notice saying that using altered saved data online is illegal.

Another site called WESTSIDE also made an announcement on their site back on December 28th, 2018 stating that they were discontinuing the sale of CDs with modified saved games on them. This came weeks after they announced that they were originally going to release the latest CD pack on December 21st, 2018.

Even still, if you don’t plan on modifying saved games, but you do plan on modifying the firmware to remove the DRM that prevents homebrew from running on a console, you would still get hit with a criminal fine if they found out. How much? Around 5 million yen or certain civil measures.

This will obviously have a rather serious effect on the modding, cracking, and hacking scene in Japan. What they don’t explain is if tools designed for PC software that also works with console hardware will also be affected. It’s also unclear if multiplatform games that have mod tools for the PC version will be affected as well.

(Thanks for the news tip Drudkh666)

(Main image courtesy of Tetzan Zone)