Nintendo could have a major issue on its hands after it's revealed that the Nintendo Switch is vulnerable to a hardware exploit. First released last year, the Switch has been something of a revelation for Nintendo, with extremely strong sales that have helped the company forget about the troubles of predecessor device the Wii U. As a matter of fact, the Switch had already outsold the Wii U by the beginning of this year.
In part, this is down to Nintendo finding a perfect balance from a design perspective, with the flexibility of the Switch as both a handheld device and a home console allowing users to make the most of it whatever the situation. On top of that, the system has been home to a solid lineup of games so far, so it's easy to see why it has become the fastest-selling console in US history.
However, in spite of Nintendo's key design choices from a hardware perspective, there is one issue that the company was not aware of. As it turns out, the Switch is vulnerable to hacking, and there's actually very little that Nintendo can do about it. That's because the hack in question is tied to the hardware of the device - in this case, the Switch's Nvidia Tegra X1 processor.
As such, there's no simple patch that Nintendo can release to solve the issue, and leaves the Switch open to all sorts of manipulation. Some of these exploits could be relatively benign in nature, such as homebrew apps and the ability to boot an OS such as Linux to the Switch, but there are some larger concerns that Nintendo will be having, in particular when it comes to piracy on the Switch and the ease of running in-game exploits.
The next step for Nintendo will be a difficult one, as the only way to truly shore up this problem is to revise the processor itself. With Nintendo apparently heavily increasing Switch production in 2018 then there's a chance that this could happen at that point, but in the meantime there's little that can be done apart from trying to make it harder from an operating system level for further hacks to be engineered. One step that Nintendo is likely to run, if past hardware hacks on consoles are anything to go by, is putting in place a system to detect hacked consoles via online gaming and removing network access.
Long-term fixes, though, will definitely have to come from a processor replacement, which is bound to be a headache for Nintendo. It is not the only company impacted by this exploit, with Google phones also potentially impacted, but given the developer's reputation for quality this is understandably a problem it does not want to have.