Nintendo Reveals 160,000 Switch Accounts Affected By Recent Hack

Mario Kart 8 is played at a Nintendo Switch Preview event in 2017.
Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for Nintendo of America

Nintendo has revealed that some 160,000 Switch accounts were affected by a recent hack that allowed those responsible to access user and password data for Nintendo Network IDs (NNID). The hackers were then able to log in to those accounts and make unauthorized purchases with them.

The company confirmed the hacks via a statement on its Japanese web site, Nintendo.co.jp, on Friday. Meanwhile, Nintendo UK issued a separate statement which indicated the company has found no evidence to suggest there was a breach of their servers, databases, or services.

Following up on complaints from users over the last week concerning unauthorized access to Nintendo accounts, the company launched an investigation to uncover the problem. They later discovered that NNIDs — which are a carryover from the days of the Wii U and handheld 3DS consoles — were the means by which hackers gained access to accounts.

The company maintains that users’ credit card information would not have been viewable for hackers. However, they did say that users’ nicknames, dates of birth, locations, genders, and email addresses may have been accessed, as that information is attached to NNIDs and linked Nintendo accounts.

In response to the data breach, Nintendo has done away with NNID logins, while logins and accounts that appear to have been compromised are slated to receive automatic password resets. The company has also recommended gamers use two-factor authentication for their accounts.

Massive hack aside, the Nintendo Switch has performed well for the company recently amid the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent shelter-in-place orders.

According to Venture Beat, sales for the console during the month of March had doubled when compared to figures from the same month in 2019, per the industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. Analyst Mat Piscatella revealed to VB that numbers are up for all major gaming consoles, but none have seen the exponential increase in sales that the Switch has enjoyed.

“Hardware spending in March 2020 grew 63 percent when compared to a year ago, to $461 million. Nintendo Switch hardware sales more than doubled when compared to a year ago, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One each grew by more than 25 percent. First quarter hardware spending increased by 2 percent, to $773 million.”

The release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons on March 20 may have been a determining factor in the hardware sales uptick. That game has been a massive hit for Nintendo. In South Korea, gamers formed lines around the block at retailers in order to get physical copies of the game, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.