Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser has been released from prison, but will be in debt to the company for the rest of his life.
In February 2022, Bowser was sentenced to 40 months in prison for distributing and selling piracy-enabled devices. He pleaded guilty and accepted a $4.5m fine, plus an additional $10m fine to settle Nintendo’s own civil lawsuit against him.
Speaking to podcaster Nick Moses (via Kotaku), Bowser explained that Nintendo is now able to recoup 25-30 percent of his personal income for the rest of his working life.
The process has already begun, with Nintendo withdrawing $175 from Bowser’s prison job while he was incarcerated at the Seatac Federal Detention Center in Washington. It seems improbable that he will ever be able to make full payments in full.
Nevertheless, due to time served and good behavior, Bowser is now free to return home to Canada.
Prior to his arrest, Bowser worked as a “salesman” for the company as part of the hacking group Team Executor, reportedly earning $320k over seven years – much less than the fine he must now pay.
However, Nintendo’s lawyers said that Team Executor has caused the company “damages of more than $65 million” because of the time it spent updating the hardware to prevent piracy.
Indeed, last June it was reported that Nintendo’s lawyers and US District Judge Robert Lasnick discussed Bowser’s prison time as an example to deter future hackers, despite the risk to Bowser’s physical health.
Judge Lasnick said, “I always say to jurors, ‘Your role is not to send a message. Your role is to determine guilt or innocence on the facts.’ “But my role sometimes involves sending a message.”