Last year in the Dominican Republic, 51-year-old Canadian Gary “GaryOPA” Bowser was arrested (and soon extracted to the US). He was a member of the Team-Xecuter group, which offered people hardware and software solutions that allowed them to install and play unofficial and pirated copies of games on various consoles (including the popular Nintendo Switch). Bowser pleaded guilty this week.
Bowser worked on the SX OS line for modding Switch devices, as well as developing other tools that allowed users to play pirated ROMs. Bowser pleaded guilty to two of eleven counts of trafficking in circumvention devices and conspiracy to do the same. Together, the two charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In return for an admission of guilt, the prosecutor’s office agreed to drop the remaining nine charges.
According to the agreement signed by Bowser, a copy of which was at the disposal of the editors of TorrentFreak, the modder admits that between June 2013 and up to his arrest last year, he “knowingly and intentionally participated in cybercriminal activities to hack leading game consoles, within the framework of which, various circumvention devices were manufactured and sold that allowed customers [modders] to play pirated versions of copyrighted video games. “
Also in the statement, Bazuser admits that the modders sought to “hide their illegal activities behind a perceived desire to support homebrew enthusiasts who were eager to develop their own games.” The group also supported the movement for the right to renovate, but their products also allowed users to play pirated games.
In response to the efforts of modders, Nintendo updated the Switch’s hardware to thwart hacks, but Team-Xecute created special devices that could be soldered to the Switch’s internal board, court documents say. Examples of devices created by modders can be seen below.
In addition, it is reported that the devices of modders “quietly and without authorization were gaining access to the servers of Nintendo and the ecosystem of online games”, using the legitimate servers of Nintendo for their own purposes.
According to the document, the success of devices such as Gateway 3DS, Stargate, TrueBlue Mini, Classic2Magic, as well as the SX OS line, “depended primarily on the availability of pirated ROMs.” Bowser admits that he and other Team-Xecuter members “created and maintained ROM libraries” for users to access through sites such as MaxConsole.com and rom-bank.com.
Bowser himself estimates that Team-Xecuter has generated “tens of millions of dollars in revenue” from its hardware and software sales since 2013. The most profitable was exactly SX OS, which allowed using a Nintendo Switch with custom firmware and playing pirated games. Bowser, however, only made $ 320,000 personally, receiving direct payments from Team-Xecuter and a share of advertising sales on various sites he controlled.
However, as part of the agreement, Bowser will pay Nintendo $ 4,500,000 to offset some of Team Xecuter’s losses, which, according to the official version, range from $ 65 million to $ 150 million.
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