Nintendo consoles

Gary Bowser sentenced to 40 months for selling pirated Nintendo consoles

Ryan Quintal

  • Hacker Gary Bowser was sentenced to 40 months for his involvement in a video game hacking operation
  • Bowser was part of Team Xecuter, a hacking group selling jailbroken Nintendo Switch consoles
  • The consoles were full of entire libraries of pirated video games, cutting into profits for Nintendo and other video game companies.

For those who think piracy isn’t that bad, think again. A Canadian named Gary Bowser, 52, has just been sentenced to 40 months in prison and fined $14.5 million for running a global operation selling jailbroken Nintendo Switch consoles.

These consoles featured a special chip that allowed users to play pirated video games, bypassing the need for To pay for games.

Arrest of Gary Bowser and plea agreement

Bowser (which, ironically, is his real last name) was part of a hacking group called Team Xecuter. Team Xecuter would hack video game consoles, also called jailbreak– so that they include comprehensive online libraries of pirated games.

Several of the major video game companies have sought to crack down on global illegal activity in the industry. Nintendo of America was the first to sue Gary Bowser, but what might be even more ironic than Gary’s last name is that the head of Nintendo of America is Doug Bowser.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security then became involved in the criminal case. They were able to reach a plea deal with Bowser in September 2020 while he was living in the Dominican Republic. He eventually agreed to pay Nintendo of America $4.5 million and help with the investigation.

Bowser would also plead guilty to two felonies: conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and trafficking in circumvention devices, and trafficking in circumvention devices. The other 9 crimes he had in the case were dropped.

Bowser takes full responsibility

Yesterday, Gary Bowser was sentenced to 40 months in prison by US federal court for his piracy activities.

In addition to his prison sentence, he also agreed with Nintendo last fall to pay them $10 million, bringing the total damages he must repay to $14.5 million.

This is a massive punishment, but according to feds, Bowser’s crimes cost Nintendo and other video game companies more than $65 million.

Here’s what US attorney Nick Brown had to say,

This hacking scheme is estimated to have caused over $65 million [USD] in losses for video game companies. But the damage extends beyond those companies, harming video game developers and small creative studios whose products and hard work are essentially stolen when games are pirated.

Two other defendants outside the United States

There are still two more people awaiting extradition to the United States to face charges. Max Louarn, 49, from France and Yanning Chen, 36, from China.

The two would have played a leading role in the operation of Team Xecuter.

Based on what just happened to Bowser, they likely face similar penalties.