Gary Bowser, the leader of Switch hacking group Team Xecuter, has been sentenced to 40 months in jail for piracy. The official charges are "Conspiracy to Circumvent Technological Measures and to Traffic in Circumvention Devices" and "Trafficking in Circumvention Devices", both of which are federal felonies in the United States.
Previously the U.S. government were arguing for five years as a jail sentence.
Bowser's group built and sold devices that were used to hack consoles, which can allow players to modify games and play pirated games. Bowser, a 51-year-old Canadian who was arrested in the Dominican Republic and is no relation to Doug Bowser or King Koopa, had already agreed to pay two separate fines: $4.5 million to Nintendo of America as restitution, and a further $10 million also to Nintendo of America as "monetary relief". He has also had all of his consoles destroyed.
In a statement issued by the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney Nick Brown described the damage done by Team Xecuter as having "caused more than $65 million in losses to video game companies," but sad that the damage went beyond the losses to businesses, "harming video game developers and the small, creative studios whose products and hard work is essentially stolen when games are pirated."
Prosecutors also cited indie developers as victims of piracy in the statement:
"When video games are illegally copied and when circumvention devices become readily available, the video game industry—and the broader economy—experience a negative ripple effect…. This leads, at a minimum, to fewer incentives to create, and a less vibrant game scene."
Two other prominent members of the group, 49-year-old Max Louarn of France and 36-year-old Yuanning Chen of China, have also been charged, but are not currently in custody. Bowser has been in federal custody since September 2020.