Gary Bowser, 52, is one of the leaders of the “Team Xecuter” hacker criminal enterprise, a notorious video game piracy gang, authorities said. The gang sold software to hack and download stolen games to various consoles.
Besides the Nintendo Switch console, Team Xecuter also targeted the Nintendo 3DS, the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Edition, the Sony PlayStation Classic and Microsoft’s Xbox.
Bowser, a Canadian citizen, was the public face of the group and handled Team Xecuter’s public relations and operated its websites. He was arrested in October 2020 in the Dominican Republic and extradited to the US to stand trial in New Jersey.
He pleaded guilty in October 2021 to two criminal counts – conspiracy to circumvent technological measures and to traffic in circumvention devices, and trafficking in circumvention devices. As part of his plea deal, Bowser agreed to pay $4.5m in restitution to Nintendo.
Federal agents said that he caused a loss of about $65m (about £48m) to gaming companies.
In a statement, the gaming company said: “Nintendo appreciates the hard work and tireless efforts of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to curb illegal activities on a global scale that cause serious harm to Nintendo and the video game industry.”
US Attorney Nick Brown said the damage caused by “Bowser and Team Xecuter goes beyond that done to the console makers, harming video game developers and the small, creative studios whose products and hard work is essentially stolen when games are pirated”.
Federal prosecutors had initially wanted to pursue a 60-month prison sentence against Bowser. They had said that they intended to “send a message” as a deterrent to other, similar hacking groups.