On March 3rd, Nintendo disabled online multiplayer modes for two of its biggest games, Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon, to address server issues. The company decided not to provide a timeframe for when the online modes would be restored. This news comes as Nintendo’s eShop for the Wii U and 3DS is set to shut down later this month, on March 27th. However, users have until 2024 to transfer the remaining funds from these devices to a Nintendo Account, which can be used for Switch titles. While this development may be a cause for concern for some users, the reason behind Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon’s maintenance may be even more worrisome.
According to dataminer OatmealDome on Twitter, the reason for the maintenance is a potential exploit that can hijack a user’s console. Dubbed the ENLBufferPwn exploit, this hack can take over a console by just connecting it online to the Mario Kart 8 or Splatoon servers. This exploit was also present in other Nintendo first-party titles, but has since been fixed. However, Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon for the Wii U have yet to receive a patch for this exploit. The maintenance does not extend to other titles at this time.
The security vulnerability is almost certainly ENLBufferPwn, which could allow an attacker to take over your console just by connecting to them online.
This exploit affected many of Nintendo’s games on the Switch, along with Mario Kart 7 on the 3DS.https://t.co/GWR6alQVy4
— OatmealDome (@OatmealDome) March 3, 2023
Mario Kart 8 and Splatoon Online Multiplayer Servers Taken Offline
Nintendo has not provided a timeline for when the online functionality for these two titles will be restored, but the company’s extended maintenance suggests that the issue is being addressed. With the Wii U and 3DS losing online functionality, it is only a matter of time before these online servers go dark for good. Nonetheless, players who wish to continue playing these games online can do so on the Switch through Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and the Splatoon 3 Expansion Pass, which takes players back to Inkopolis, the hub city from the first game. Hopefully, these server exploits have not impacted too many players, and the patches can ensure security in the future.