With a surname like “Bowser”, many would probably presume you’d grow up to be a fan of Nintendo’s products and franchises. For hacker Gary Bowser, however, that love may have manifested in an ironic way. Accused of being the mastermind behind the Team Xecuter hacking group, Bowser and a colleague were arrested and charged last year with 11 felony counts over the sale of Nintendo hacking tools. Nintendo has now added trafficking and copyright violation charges in an attempt to finally put a stop to what it has labeled as an international pirate ring.
For all the love it gets, Nintendo is also notorious for how aggressive it is in hunting down those who dare violate its copyrights and intellectual properties. Those can range from well-meaning fan-made homages to iconic Nintendo characters to downright circumventing security measures it has put inside its consoles. It is the latter that has ruffled Nintendo’s feathers enough to finally set its legal hounds on who it believes to be behind one of its greatest transgressors, Team Xecuter.
Given how popular and how locked-down the Nintendo Switch is, it’s really no surprise that it has caught the interest and obsession of many hackers. Some have tried to force the device to run Linux or Android while others have worked to enable the Switch to run pirated copies of games. Naturally, that piracy which Nintendo called a “serious, worsening international problem” is what set the legal wheels in motion, resulting in the arrest of Gary Bowser and Max Louarn last year.
This year, Nintendo filed another lawsuit, also in Seattle, against Bowser for the sale of devices designed to hack into the Switch and the Switch Lite. The company is seeking $2,500 in damages for each hacking kit sold and $150,000 for each copyright violation. Those sums are mostly intended to cause Bowser’s hacking activities to fold once and for all.
While hacking gaming consoles is already a controversial activity, Bowser’s for-profit organization has itself been controversial within the hacking community. While many hackers try to break into the Switch for the fun of running other operating systems or reporting security vulnerabilities, Team Xecuter has become notorious for taking those open source efforts, using them for piracy, and then making a profit out of it all.