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US government wants Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser behind bars for five years "to provide just punishment"

Bowser requests 19 months.

Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser should face 60 months - five years - behind bars, the US government has said.

The suggested sentence would be an extraordinary amount of jail time for Bowser, who has already admitted his guilt and accepted a $4.5m fine for his role in the production and sale of piracy-enabling game console devices.

Bowser, meanwhile, has pled that he should go down for just 19 months.

In new court documents discussing jail sentencing, both the US government and Bowser's lawyers have argued their case.

The US government said the 60-month sentence was appropriate given "the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant, and the need for the sentence to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment... to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct". After those five years, the government said, Bowser should be supervised for three years.

This case's outcome will create ripples within the video gaming community and was being "watched closely by the industry", the US government continued, listing various pieces of media coverage of the trial - including Eurogamer's own.

For his part, Bowser's lawyers have argued Gary was "the least culpable and only apprehended defendant from this indictment", while others have escaped the law. Because of this, they wrote, Bowser was being given the "brunt" of the blame.

Bowser's lawyers also downplayed the amount of money he actually earned from the piracy-enable enterprise - an estimate of $320k over seven years, they say - while others made more money and lived lavish lifestyles abroad.

"This is a serious offense in which Nintendo suffered substantial monetary loss," Bowser's legal defence admits. "A sentence of 19 months for the least culpable of the three charged defendants, under the circumstances in which Mr. Bowser has actually served that sentence, is significant."

Bowser's hacking group, Team Xecuter, generated tens of millions of dollars from the mass-produced and widely-sold mod chips. The industrial scale of this enterprise was key to it catching the US government's eye.

"This case is unlike any other criminal case known to the government," the US government concluded. "Mr. Bowser deserves a higher sentence... given the size and breath of the Team Xecuter conspiracy, which lasted for years and included multiple types of circumvention devices."

A judge will now decide exactly how long Bowser will be put behind bars for.

Separate to this US government case and his $4.5m fine for that, Bowser has additionally accepted a whopping $10m fine for Nintendo's own civil lawsuit against him.

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Tom Phillips avatar

Tom Phillips


Tom is Eurogamer's Editor-in-Chief. He writes lots of news, some of the puns and makes sure we put the accent on Pokémon. Tom joined Eurogamer in 2010 following a stint running a Nintendo fansite, and still owns two GameCubes. He also still plays Pokémon Go every day.