Gary Bowser, who was indicted in 2020 and sentenced in 2021 to 40 months in prison for being a part of a hacking ring known as Team Xecuter, has been released.
Team Xecuter was a Nintendo hacking group whose activities included selling chips that allowed users to play in pirated games. Though Bowser played a relatively smaller role in the hacking operations compared with the other members of the ring (Max Louarn and Yuanning Chen), he was the only one who was tried and convicted in the US. Bowser was charged with 11 felonies: wire fraud, conspiracy to circumvent technological measures, trafficking in circumvention devices, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The piracy and hacking operations cost Nintendo more than $65 million over a decade-long period of time, it was determined.
After pleading guilty to two of the charges, Bowser was fined $14.5 million and sentenced, but he is being released early due to good behavior. He has paid just $175 of the fine from his time in prison, with the help of his prison library job, meaning he still has a long way to go, to say the least. Until the full amount of his fine is paid off, his pay will continue to be docked — although only 25% to 30% can be docked at a time, as per his agreement with Nintendo.
The extremity of Bowser's sentence comes from the intended message to deter other hackers from committing similar crimes. "It's the purchase of video games that sustains Nintendo and the Nintendo ecosystem, and it is the games that make the people smile," Nintendo lawyer Ajay Singh told the court back in 2022. "It's for that reason that we do all we can to prevent games on Nintendo systems from being stolen."