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Bowser gets 3+ years in prison over Nintendo Switch hack scheme

No relation to King Koopa or Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser

Mario runs from Fury Bowser in Bowser’s Fury Image: Nintendo
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Nintendo Switch hack seller Gary Bowser has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for his role in the Team Xecuter hacking scheme, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Bowser, who is Canadian and of no relation to Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser (or the Mushroom Kingdom villain), was charged with two federal felonies and will serve 40 months in prison. The DOJ characterized Bowser as a “prominent leader” in the group, someone who helped develop and sell devices used to hack video game consoles — including the Nintendo Switch. Bowser was arrested in 2020 and agreed to pay a $10 million fine for selling these hacks, on top of the three-year prison sentence issued Thursday. Bowser pled guilty for his role in the scheme in 2021, when he agreed to pay Nintendo $4.5 million in restitution to Nintendo.

The group, which the DOJ says is made up of more than a dozen people from around the world, is responsible for creating devices that circumvent console security measures, allowing users to access free games.

“This piracy scheme is estimated to have caused more than $65 million in losses to video game companies,” U.S. Attorney Nick Brown said in a statement. “But the damage goes beyond these businesses, harming video game developers and the small, creative studios whose products and hard work is essentially stolen when games are pirated.”

In earlier court documents, Bowser said he was paid $1,000 a month to market and distribute the hacking devices to retailers. The DOJ’s press release Thursday said he managed Team Xecuter’s websites and created “online libraries of pirated videogames for its customers.”

The DOJ has charged two other Team Xecuter members — Max Louarn of France and Yuanning Chen of China — but neither are in custody, according to the press release. Homeland Security Investigations and the FBI are still working on this case.

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