Nintendo successfully sued to stop pirates from selling Switch modchips. Now two Switch hackers are behind bars.

In May, Nintendo filed a lawsuit in Ohio and Seattle courts against the hacking group, Team-Xecuter. The group is responsible for the SX Pro, a USB device for installing custom firmware on any Nintendo Switch console.

Once the custom operating system is available, users can play pirated copies of games on the Switch from a microSD card. “All without authorization or paying a dime to Nintendo or to any of the large number of authorized game publishers making games for Nintendo Switch,” the lawsuit states.

The SX Pro Switch mod only works with early launch Switch models before June 2018. An updated chipset fixes the unpatchable exploit in the first-gen Nvidia Tegra CPUs. An estimated 20 million Switch devices are susceptible to the SX Pro USB device. But Team-Xecuter didn’t stop there.

The hacking collective came up with a new hardware exploit dubbed SX Core and SX Lite. These devices could install custom firmware on any Switch device using a simple solder.

The hacking collective soon began taking pre-orders for its solderable exploit. “Defendants have accepted and confirmed hundreds of other pre-orders for the SX Core and the SX Lite throughout the United States, and plan to ship the products to purchasers when they become available, which is expected imminently,” the lawsuit reads.

Nintendo is seeking damages of up to $2,500 per sale of the Nintendo Switch hardware mod. The lawsuit also seeks the seizure, impoundment, and destruction of any Switch hard mods produced by the hacking collective. A judgment awarded yesterday in favor of Nintendo for $2 million was passed down against a retailer selling SX Pro pre-orders.

Today, two members of the Switch hackers collective were arrested and charged with fraud. Max Louarn and Gary Bowser were the alleged leaders of Team-Xecuter.

“These defendants were allegedly leaders of a notorious international criminal group that reaped illegal profits for years by pirating video game technology of U.S. companies,” says Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“These arrests show that the department will hold accountable hackers who seek to commandeer and exploit the intellectual property of American companies for financial gain, no matter where they may be located,” he continues.

The Justice Department says the primary purpose of the Switch hackers group was to develop and sell for-profit tools enabling piracy. If convicted, both men are facing 20 years for each charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The judge in the case has set no trial date.

Team-Xecuter’s history in the homebrew community is controversial.

The move to sell closed-source hardware mods goes against the community’s open-source ethos. Many homebrew modders feel the move to charge for a hardware product advertising piracy will have consequences. Nintendo went after 3DS hardware mods with similar intensity in the early 2010s.

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