Nintendo fans might not think it’s possible to tally up how much damage Bowser has caused over the years. But after pleading guilty to his crimes, Bowser owes Nintendo a cool $4.5 million.
You might expect Bowser to pay that hefty fee in coins, shells, or the services of the Hammer Bros. But we’re not talking about the Bowser who has terrorized Mario for decades. Instead, the man in question is Gary Bowser, who was arrested last year for hacking into Nintendo Switch systems. And while his last name is a hell of a coincidence, this case is no laughing matter.
Bowser was the alleged leader of a hacking group called Team Xecuter that operated from 2013 until August 19, 2020. They “developed, manufactured, marketed, and sold a variety of circumvention devices that allowed the enterprise’s customers to play pirated versions of copyrighted video games, commonly referred to as ‘ROMs,'” according to the plea agreement obtained by TorrentFreak and filed in the U.S. Western District of Washington court on Oct. 28, 2001.
While Bowser plead guilty to charges of “Conspiracy to Circumvent Technological Measures and to Traffic in Circumvention Devices” and “Trafficking in Circumvention Devices,” the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to dismiss other counts of indictment against him. Still, he faces two potential five-year prison sentences for his crimes and will be forced to pay Nintendo $4.5 million alone. The other defendants in the case will be charged separately.
If you think Bowser’s punishment sounds severe, the financial damage to Nintendo from the hacking group may be as high as $150 million. “The enterprise generated at least tens of millions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of its circumvention devices,” the legal filing states, though Bowser claims he made no more than $320,000 for his part in the operation.