Piracy, a very… sensitive subject when it comes to developers and IP owners. Down to its core, piracy is what happens when you download a cracked copy of a game or application to play illegally. Some games have internal defenses or flags to check for pirated versions, but that doesn’t change that the copy was pirated.
Now, where does Nintendo come into this? Well, in October 2020, they busted two piracy tool makers, known as Team Xecuter. The leaders are a duo, consisting of Max Louarn and Gary Bowser, and were charged with eleven counts of fraud, among other crimes. Today, there’s been an update following the case itself, so let’s talk about it.
Plea Changes and Agreements From Team Xecuter
Team Xecuter was known for their lucrative business in its Nintendo console hacks which extended to the 3DS, NES Classic, among other things. The United States Department of Justice has gone on record saying that the arrest was made to show that the Department would hold accountable hackers who seek to commandeer and exploit the intellectual property of American companies for financial gain, no matter where they may be located.
That brings us to yesterday, November 1st, 2021. The state of the case has developed somewhat. One of the Team Xecuter leaders changed his plea from innocent to guilty in a revised filing. Gary Bowser initially pleaded innocent to the charges which include Conspiracy to Circumvent Technological Measures and Trafficking in a Circumvention Device. The updated plea agreement can be read here, thanks to Torrentfreak.
The plea agreement, in as short a description as possible, then proceeds to explain that Xecuter’s plan was not to support homebrew enthusiasts and more to sell workarounds to anti-piracy tools within Nintendo consoles so customers can, well, play pirated ROMs. They’ve even supposedly gone to retailers that sell their products, seeking inquiries in regards to these devices.
The biggest offender is certainly a piece of hardware that was used against the Nintendo Switch’s firmware, and very lucrative for Luoam and Bowser. Moving on, the agreement further goes into detail on how much they earned from these products. Bowser makes (or, made) anywhere between $500 to $1000 monthly, but then you factor in advertising income. That factor alone makes his total revenue jump to about $320 thousand.
At the end of it all, nine counts have been waived, and Bowser, in a cooperative move with Nintendo, is now working to locate any more of their units. Theoretically, it could result in a reduced sentence after this mess is solved, but the government stressed that there aren’t any guarantees. We’ll update if anything else comes of this lawsuit.