WiinjaMods chips are the focal point of recent raids here in the U.S. by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to an announcement issued by ICE, over 32 warrants were issued, and homes and businesses were raided in 16 different states. I’m sure you know what a mod chip is, but in case you don’t, they allow users of video game consoles to play pirated games by getting around the copy-protection in place.

The reason immigration and customs is involved is because the mod-chips are imported from other countries and then brought into the United States illegally so that dealers can sell them.According to the ICE website, “The investigation represents the largest national enforcement action of its kind targeting this type of illegal activity.”

Mod chips are found for nearly all consoles, with the more popular chips being for the Playstation 2, Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo has already praised the government for their efforts in a press release saying that “Nintendo and its developers and publishers lost an estimated $762 million in sales in 2006 due to piracy of its products.” While that number is significant, it is assumed that they’re taking into consideration the full price for the counterfeit discs seized. I’m sure many of the people who purchase the counterfeit discs wouldn’t otherwise purchase the games to begin with, which means Nintendo wouldn’t have received the profits anyways.

While mod chips are primarily used for getting around the copyright protection in place, there are in fact other reasonable explanations as to why people buy them. One of the reasons I’ve heard is that people get mod chips so that they can get around the region lock so that they can play games from other regions.

Reader Question: If you have modded your game console before, was the primary reason for playing pirated games, or something different?