The Team Executer saga is a long one. The brand has been around for years in the console modding scene. During that time, a lot of groups handing out console mods, as well as selling them, have come and gone. It’s that latter group that’s much more controversial, and seemingly prone to legal ire. Team Executer has been modding consoles for some time, both allowing game piracy and other nonstandard features to operate. The controversial part is that they often sold these mods and tools for profit. During that time, they would often try to dodge liability via various distribution methods and disclaimers. Doug Bowser is being held up as the leader of this group, and has been pegged by the legal system as the scapegoat. And with all their efforts to evade legal consequences, things have gotten rough.
Team Executer’s work to avoid detection hasn’t stopped several members from being arrested and charged for various offenses. Back in April 2021, the investigation into the group came to a head with multiple suits having been filed. Nintendo got vindication today as federal prosecutors in the US sentenced one prominent hardware hacker to three years in prison. Nintendo separately filed a civil lawsuit against Bowser in April 2021 related to three counts of copyright infringement, seeking damages of $2500 per device, with a separate $150,000 charge per copyright infringement allegation.
The ruling is likely to be very controversial, as many gamers don’t see piracy and hardware modding as a threat to the bottom lines of major companies. And many developers also agree. The common refrain of “I would rather you pirate my game than not play it at all,” is common among indie game developers in particular. For obvious reasons, very litigious corporations see things very differently. Nintendo has regularly established itself as a standout in terms of how petty they can be.
And with their press release, the relevant section of which is included below, they gloated a little too much for the liking of some looking on.
Nintendo appreciates the hard work and tireless efforts of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to curb illegal activities on a global scale that cause serious harm to Nintendo and the video game industry. In particular, Nintendo would like to thank the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) of the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs for their significant contribution and assistance.
In previous news, federal investigators pursued Team Executer quite heavily. Over the last two years, the modding company has been under investigation, with multiple members being arrested.
The actual justification for such a harsh penalty can be disputed. Court documents filed previously saw the prosecution arguing that Bowser is the “public face” of Team Xecuter, which it describes as a “criminal enterprise” that “for almost a decade…flaunted vulnerabilities found in video game consoles and undermined the integrity of those systems and video game users’ experiences.” This culminated in the claim that Gary Bowser is held personally responsible for losses of more than $65 million to Nintendo. Various analysts, legal studies, and average gamers dispute this statistic, arguing that game sales can actually be helped by piracy.
Bowser’s legal team also tried to downplay just how much money he was making from Team Xecuter, saying he only made an estimated $320,000 over seven years. That view was obviously not looked favorably on by the court, which sentenced Bowser to a 40-month prison sentence. He is also ordered to pay Nintendo a sum of $10 million during a separate, civil case that was settled in December 2021.