Infamous Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser believes the company used him as an example, and says his prison sentence and fine are designed to send a message to others who cross the company in the future.
To quickly recap, Bowser was sentenced to 40 months in prison for the distribution and sale of piracy-enabling devices back in 2022. The Canadian programmer had worked as part of a larger hacking group known as Team Xecuter, which in turn made millions from the sale of devices which enabled pirated video games to be played on a number of Nintendo’s consoles. At the time of his sentence, Bowser pleaded guilty and agreed to a $4.5m fine, as well as an additional $10m fine to settle Nintendo’s own civil lawsuit against him.
Bowser was subsequently released from prison last year, however he will remain in debt to Nintendo for decades to come. In April, Bowser said Nintendo is now able to recoup 25-30 percent of his personal income for the rest of his working life.
Now, speaking with The Guardian, Bowser has said his sentence was “like a message to other people that [are] still out there, that if they get caught … [they’ll] serve hard time”.
He stated he will continue to pay Nintendo what he can, although admits it “won’t be very much money, that’s for sure”. During his time in prison, Bowser was able to pay the company “$25 a month” from payments he recieved counselling other prisoners on suicide watch.
Bowser’s situation seems bleak, with the publication noting that since his release from prison he has often gone without access to everyday amenities such as a refrigerator or stove due to trouble paying electricity bills.
He has now set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to help with his medical bills (Bowser has elephantiasis in his left leg, lives with chronic pain and requires physical therapy). However, despite this, Bowser says it “could be a lot worse”, as he now managed to secure housing. Previously, he was sleeping on a friend’s sofa.
When asked about his distinctive name – coincidentally the same as both Nintendo’s King of the Koopas and Nintendo of America’s president – Bowser said: “I must be the first Bowser that’s ever been arrested,” with a resigned laugh.
Earlier this year, Bowser denied being part of a flash cart project that claimed to allow Switch users to play back-ups of their owned games. At this time, he said he had been the “subject of DNS poisoning attack on [his] nameservers” and was “not involved with this stuff”.