Nintendo Lawsuit Targets Bowser: Yes, You Read That Correctly

A new Nintendo lawsuit seeks to recoup damages after a man named Gary Bowser allegedly violated its copyrights by creating hacks using Nintendo games, and then selling them for profit. Bowser leads the Nintendo Switch Team Xecuter, which is responsible for making these new games using Nintendo’s digital content, and was arrested in autumn of 2020. Nintendo decided the punishment wasn’t harsh enough. The civil case is meant to remedy that. 

Most people know all about media pirating of popular TV shows and movies, but game pirating is a problem for game makers as well. Older systems can be emulated easily, and the data from an individual game can be pulled from a cartridge, compressed, and then uploaded to the Internet as a ROM that anyone can download. Voila! An easy way to play old games. But newer systems can be emulated as well. It’s just not as simple.

And once hackers have a firm hold on this digitized information, they can alter it to make anything they want using the source material. Hackers have even created easy-to-use software programs that anyone can download to toy around with the data. For example, a popular program for the old-school Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) game Final Fantasy VI (originally released as Final Fantasy III in the United States) allows users to alter character and enemy stats, equipment parameters, and even entire tilesets to create an entirely new world.

Needless to say, game developers don’t like it when hackers do this on the assumption it costs them money (although the hackers themselves contend that the increased publicity and new content only makes the original games even more popular and that game makers should get on board). 

Nintendo’s lawsuit would effectively gut all Xecuter operations, while forcing Bowser (the man) to pay a whopping $2,500 for each piece of hacked hardware he sold and an additional $150,000 for each copyright infringement charge. That means there’s no way that Bowser would ever be able to remain financially viable moving forward — bankruptcy is the almost assured outcome. 

Many people pirate video game media to “rent” games freely with the intention of purchasing real copies later — sometimes It’s What We Do to justify illegal activity. But it’s worth noting that Nintendo is a company that hasn’t retained its once-dominant hold on the video gaming industry. Rivals like Sony and Microsoft have gobbled up an even bigger piece of the pie since Nintendo’s Wii U release disaster ( a console no one wanted). This makes software sales very important to Nintendo.

These lawsuits have been growing in force over the last few years, and it’s clear that Nintendo is feeling squeezed by shifting gaming habits regardless of financial viability. For instance, more gamers are turning to smartphone gaming — and Nintendo has yet to really capture a very big audience or release any very popular games to compete with its biggest rivals.


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