The Department of Justice (DOJ) publicized the sentencing of Canadian national and Dominican Republic resident Gary Bowser last Thursday after a hearing before a Seattle, Wash. federal judge. According to the press release, Bowser, the leader of a “notorious video game piracy group,” faces 40 months in prison for three charges relating to trafficking in video game circumvention devices which he pleaded guilty to last October.
The announcement specifies that 52-year-old Bowser was detained and deported from the Dominican Republic in September 2020. Thereafter, he remained in federal custody and as part of last year’s plea agreement, said he would pay $4.5 million in restitution to Nintendo of America. In December, the defendant settled Nintendo’s civil copyright suit for $10 million.
The government argued that Bowser’s illegitimate enterprise, “Team Xecuter,” sold circumvention devices to gamers, allowing them to play almost any pirated game for free on popular consoles like the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox. Bowser reportedly had a hand in marketing the illicit goods, answering customer questions about the products, and creating and maintaining an online library of pirated video games for customers.
The DOJ further contended that “[e]ven as game console companies announced new security features, Team Xecuter would roll out new devices designed to bypass such security.” As a result of Bowser and Team Xecuter’s scheme, video game companies were estimated to have lost more than $65 million in revenue. In addition, the government cited concerns over ripple effects throughout the industry including fewer incentives to develop games and damage to small creative studios whose work was essentially stolen through piracy.
Finally, the press release noted that other Team Xecuter members have also been in the hot seat over similar allegations. Max Louarn, a French national and Yuanning Chen, a Chinese national were both charged in the indictment, though neither is currently in federal custody.