Two members of hacking group ‘Team Xecuter,’ best known for its Nintendo hacks, have been arrested and charged with fraud. The two were French National Max Louarn and Gary Bowser, who originally comes from Canada but was arrested in the Dominican Republic.
According to The Verge, Xecuter was a sophisticated operation that developed tools for cracking locked-down gaming consoles like the Nintendo Switch. For example, one tool made by the company, called the ‘SX Pro,’ was a USB device that allowed Switch consoles to run pirated games. Along with the Switch, the group made hacking tools for the Nintendo 3DS, NES Classic and more.
Ars Technica also reported that Team Xecuter’s for-profit motive made it controversial in the modding and emulation communities. Those groups tend to focus on open-source efforts and avoid selling products that could draw the attention of both console makers and authorities.
Nintendo previously filed two lawsuits against Team Xecuter in May. The main goal of the litigation was to shut down third-party retailers that resell the Xecuter’s products online. It’s worth noting that Nintendo has a controversial history of aggressively pursuing legal action over unauthorized use of its intellectual property. That includes going after ‘ROM’ sites, which host game files from old systems like the NES or Game Boy, as well as websites that traffic pirated content and related hardware tools.
Further, the arrest of Bowser drew attention for the shared name with the main antagonist of Nintendo’s Mario games as well as Nintendo of America’s president, Doug Bowser. In particular, it prompted a humorous response from former Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé, who tweeted “I want the keys to the kingdom back, Bowser.”
The U.S. Justice Department also weighed in, with Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Brian Rabitt, calling the defendants alleged “leaders of a notorious international criminal group” that profited from pirating video game technology.
At the same time, the Justice Department tried to emphasize differences between Xecuter’s activities and not-for-profit emulation or console hacking. Particularly, it explained that Xecuter’s main purpose was to sell for-profit tools for running pirated games.
Bowser and Louarn could face lengthy sentences if convicted, with 20 years for each charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering and up to five years for some other lesser charges. A trial date has not been set.
Update 10/03/2020 at 1:11pm: Added clarification that ‘Bowser’ is also the last name of the current president of Nintendo of America.