Many of gateway users may hear of the cia files/games, so what are these, why gateway can support it is an amazing thing, how to install cia files on 3DS with Gateway card, which way to transfer 3ds/3dz to cia format, where to download tools related with cia, the page here is for all your knowledge.

What are .cia files?

CIA format file can be descrided as the programs downloaded from eShop or online and is installed on 3DS main menu directly. It is including games, tools, game patches and plugins. What are they used for? Here just explain to you generally.

  • CIA Games: The cia games be showed on the 3DS Main Menu and save in the sd cad comes in 3DS, users can play it more conveniently.
  • CIA Game Patches: Some 3ds games need to be updated to fix the game bugs and add new feature, with the patches, you are easily to patch the 3ds games to enjoy the latest version.
  • CIA tools: The tool programms such as calculator, game manager, cia savedata manager and others also can be installed on the 3DS.

Pros of .cia files?

  •  CIA files can be put into the SD card which comes with 3DS consoles, it is convenient to carry, easy to use.
  •  CIA program is read straightly from sd card, no need for working with game card or flash cards, more power-saving to 3DS console.
  •  CIA files are various in content, not only for games.
  •  CIA games can be played simply after enter into Emunand. You can take out the gateway red card, which will benefit the gateway card life a lot.
  • Without importing the game header you can enjoy the multi-player games via CIA games, so you can never get 3DS bricked.

How to install .cia files on 3DS via Gateway 3ds card?


BigBlueMenu : cia file installer

BigBlueMenu is an improved version of the Devmenu and it was made by BigBlueBox.
The Devmenu/BigBlueMenu is a program for the 3DS that allows the management of programs installed in the 3DS. That means that it is possible to install and uninstall programs in the 3DS using BigBlueMenu.

Step 1:

Download the BigBlueMenu file here and extract the contents to your computer. Go inside the created folder and you'll find another folder named "For the 3DS SD card".

You will get these two files. One is in 3DS format, the other is for CIA format. Only the BigBlueMenu.3ds can be used via Gateway red card, so put it to your micro sd card(red card one). And put BigBlueMenu.cia to the root of your SD card (the one inside the 3DS).


Step 2:

Now Gateway card only support 3DS System v4.1 to V9.2. You can then load into the GW mode while the guide here. ( if you con't know how to use the Gateway card please follow this tutorial: How to use the gateway 3DS card ?)

Step 3:

Press the select, you will see the game menu and find this one (BigBlueMenu). Choose it one just like you do for a 3ds game. In the 3DS menu, the BigBlueMenu's icon will appear.

Click or press button A to open it.


Step 5:

Click the SDMC. You can see a list of all the files inside the SD card. Search for the file that says "BigBlueMenu.cia" and press "A" to install.

Cia gateway

Step 6:

When the installation finishes, go back to the 3DS menu (you just need to press "Home" and "Close" like for the games). In the menu, there will be a new program icon (the first time it shows, it will look like a wrapped gift) and that program is the BigBlueMenu that you just installed.

Video tutorial:

Click image for larger version. 

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  • Do not try to open installed programs while you're on sysNAND menu even if they show up because it won't work and might cause problems. The exception is if it is patched to work on lower firmware version.
  • CIA's can be risky and it is only recommended you do so on Emunand, not your Sysnand.
  • After installing, you don't need the cia file anymore since the game is installed already and so you can delete it from the SD card in order to save space These program will always show on the menu.
  • You can install the game pathcs, dlc patchs and 3ds game. But you can't install the DS game. The cia file is wonderful and very convenience.
  • CIA games are always smaller in size than their rom counterpart. Usually the size that they have and that you can see in the computer, will be the size they'll occupy on your SD card after being installed.

Sky3ds/Sky3ds+ CIA Installing guide|Pasta CFW for N3DS/O3DS

Finally, we can install .cia files on 3DS without Gateway. The releasing of Pasta CFW can help Sky3ds/Sky3ds+ card users put .cia on old 3ds and new 3ds console with limited firmware N3DS 9.0-9.2 and O3DS 4.1-4.5 / 8.0-8.1 / 9.0-9.2. It also relies on the Ninjia exploit and need to run the game Cubic Ninjia to work. Compared to Gateway card, Pasta cfw even suppport unsigned DSIware and GBA Virtual Console. The latest version is 1.3 beta 7, which is updated on 21th, June, 2015. You can check in gbatemp forum. Last but not least, if you have or plan to get a Sky3ds/Sky3ds+ card, yes, it's the right time, because that Sky3ds/Sky3ds+ in our site is under Big Promotion. Catch the chance to buy the best 3ds game hacking card now!

Changelog :

-Fixed black screen issue (beta 2) <-- Please update to beta 2!
-New GUI
-Fixed firmware detection bug
-Auto-boot (hold L to access CFW menu)
-Support of 5.X, 6.X and 7.X
-Credits are back!

How to transfer 3DS/3DZ to CIA format on 3DS?

We are not testing by ourselves till now, but there is a link here, which may help you do the conversion from the forum In the future, we will offer the guide in our official blog. Anyway, we provide many cia games for free downloading below. What' more, for our customers, we will show you the place for getting more free cia/3ds games.

Download CIA Files

SaveDataFiler : the game save data manager.

CIA Games: which should be put  into the SD card coming with your 3ds.