Nintendo’s legal action document against GaryOPA gives additional insight into Team Xecuter’s inner workings
Late last year, 3 prominent members of Team Xecuter (Max “MAXiMiLiEN” Louarn, Gary “GaryOPA” Bowser, and Yuanning Chen) were charged in a federal indictment in the US, for their involvement with the Nintendo switch “SX” piracy modchips. Max Louarn and GaryOPA were arrested in the process.
This week, we’ve learned that Nintendo are adding some copyright infringement claims to the charges, targeting specifically GaryOPA. While mainstream media can’t seem to look further the jokes on GaryOPA’s family name (we get it, guys, his name is Bowser. That’s super funny, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write about the actual story…), this is unraveling some interesting information.
Nintendo’s complaint (which can be found here) gives us some insight on how Team Xecuter in general, and GaryOPA in particular, operated. To be fair, a lot of what Nintendo’s lawyers describe was already known, implied, or at least rumored in the scene. But the legal claim is an interesting confirmation data point, which adds to last year’s indictment by the US. Just like we “learned” back in October that the same group of people were behind TrueBlue Mini (Playstation Classic), Gateway3DS (Nintendo 3DS), Cobra and Progskeet (PS3), Classic2Magic (SNES Classic), and Team Xecuter (Nintendo Switch), this new document sheds some light on the inner workings of the piracy group.
Nintendo provides details on how Team Xecuter Operates
A constellation of websites and resellers
Nintendo’s legal document details a network of websites that were owned and operated by GaryOPA, namely TEAM-XECUTER.COM, XECUTER.ROCKS, TEAM-XECUTER.ROCKS, SX.XECUTER.COM, as well, as of course, MAXCONSOLE.COM. Maxconsole in particular has for long been a facade site with the appearance of a regular scene news site, but which was notoriously a marketing and help resource for the piracy devices created by the team.
This adds to other websites and brand names identified by the US attorney in 2020, including Axiogames.com and China Distribution.
The indictment from the US adds that Team Xecuter “chose to use a wide variety of brands, websites, and distribution channels. [They] used this fragmented approach to protect the overall enterprise in the event that one device or brand were to be targeted by gaming companies, financial institutions, and law enforcement“.
Nintendo’s claim continues: “Team Xecuter has grown into an international pirate ring […] on a massive scale”. The claim states that SX-OS represented at some point 89% of hacked Nintendo Switch consoles.
The main members of Team Xecuter are “experienced operators” who have been at it for decades.
Nintendo’s document reminds us that GaryOPA has been involved with console hacking since at least the early 2000s. They mention his involvement trafficking in “circumvention devices” on the NDS, 3DS, and Wii, in addition to the connections with TrueBlue on PS Mini mentioned above. They specifically name his direct involvement with the Gateway 3DS, Stargate, and Classic2Magic modchips.
The US attorney indictment describes the members of Team Xecuter as “experienced operators in the modchip industry”. On the roles of each member, they say:
Max Louarn: “Leader of the enterprise who recruited investors and exploit developers, made strategic business decisions, finalized product design, and financed projects. Louarn played a critical role in establishing wholesale distributions chains and linking the enterprise’s manufacturer with various resellers around the world.”
Yuanning Chen: provided financing and strategic guidance. Oversaw the management of a manufacturing and distribution company called “China distribution”, the official wholesale distributer of many of the circumvention devices.
Gary Bowser: responsible for developing circumvention devices and marketing those devices. Administrator of multiple websites operated by the enterprise including maxconsole.com.
on Gary, Nintendo’s claim adds:
Notwithstanding some of the success Nintendo has had enforcing its rights against resellers of the Circumvention Devices, defendant has continued to thumb his nose at the law, manufacturing and trafficking in the Circumvention Devices and SX OS. He has empowered resellers to re-emerge and launch new websites – including after the same websites had been shutdown by courts and other vehicles of enforcement – and facilitated additional avenues of distribution, all forcing Nintendo into a game of whack-a-mole.
It also appears Gary OPA was in full control of the day to day SX operations. From the claim:
Defendant ran the backend of the Websites as well, which included the infrastructure to remotely activate license codes for the SX OS. Defendant was also the sole operator of the forums on the Websites; while there were other (unpaid) moderators, they were chosen by Defendant, reported to Defendant, and were subordinate to Defendant. Further, after Defendant’s arrest, no additional posts were ever made to TEAM–XECUTER.COM
GBATemp in trouble?
Defendant also operated an account at GBATEMP.NET, where he postedinformation concerning Team Xecuter’s products, including promoting the Circumvention Devices, under “GaryOPA.” Through the GBATemp account, Defendant posted about SX OS software updates and updates on the development of Circumvention Devices, as well as about some of the features circumventing the Game TPMs. In marketing the release of the SX Core, defendant stated on GBATemp that he “spent the last 48 hours testing over 200 games” with the modchip.
Defendant used a unique username at each of the above sites […]. Specifically, he operated under the screenname […] “GaryOPA” at GBATEMP.NET.Defendant […] would often also post the content to GBATEMP.NET.
Why is GaryOPA the only target in Nintendo’s legal claim? (Where in the world is Max Louarn?)
I was recently scratching my head as to why only GaryOPA is targeted by Nintendo, if two other members of the Team Xecuter group have been charged last year. Why doesn’t Nintendo sue all of them?
At the very least, it seems that GaryOPA has been less careful than his co-defendants. As shown by Nintendo’s document, Gary had prominent online activity, on sites he owned as well as other scene websites such as GBATemp. This helped Nintendo build a solid case against someone considered to be the public face of Team Xecuter.
But beyond that, it appears the most logical answer at the moment is that GaryOPA is the only of the 3 members that is being held in the US (he’s been extradited from Dominican Republic), in a state where Nintendo know they can sue, and win.
Yuanning Chen has been charged, but there is no indication that he’s actually been arrested. Even if he was, China doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US, and Nintendo probably have much lower chances in a copyright infringement trial in China than they would in the US.
Louarn says he hasn’t been involved with hacking for years, and that he is being set up
Max Louarn has a similar situation as Chen, although he seems to be in more troubled waters: Louarn was arrested in September 2020 while on vacation in Tanzania, and spent about a month in prison there.
Tanzania have an extradition treaty with the US, and were ready to act on it. But his (French) lawyer intervened and got Max freed and brought back to France in October last year, on the basis of legal irregularities during his arrest in Tanzania. France does have an extradition treaty with the US, but it’s clear his lawyers will heavily question the needs to have a trial in the US if it can happen in France.
But Max’s story doesn’t end here: according to a local French newspaper, The FBI, helped by French authorities, ran a search at his house in France and seized computer hardware in November 2020. As he refused to give away his credentials to unlock his computers, Max Louarn is now facing charges in France, for a trial set to begin in August this year. This is probably for him a better situation than facing trial in the US: In the past, French justice has sided with Louarn’s former company Divineo, in a flashcart selling case for the Nintendo DS.
Louarn has been notoriously dealing with piracy in the past (in particular for his work with warez group Paradox, or with Nintendo DS flashcarts). But now a family man, he claims that he hasn’t been involved with console hacking in years, and that he’s been the target of harassment from US authorities. Furthermore, he said to local French news:
“I don’t have the skills to put such a process in place. And with what money? In any case, this is a discussion on copyright which needs to happen in France, not in the US”
Nintendo vs Team Xecuter, what’s next?
It seems pretty clear that GaryOPA will have to face trial in the US, where Nintendo have good chances and precedents to win. For Max Louarn, who will (for now) face charges in France, it is much less clear what happens next. Information on Chen has proven difficult to find.
It appears Gary Bowser has been the least careful of the 3 defendants, which ultimately doomed Team Xecuter (but the indictments also have lot on Louarn and Chen, including private email conversations). But if anything, the only obvious thing to me so far is that we can’t expect mainstream tech sites to cover this story really seriously, as long as their main gimmick will be to center their writing on Gary’s family name.
One last thing
By the way in case you haven’t noticed, I love reading about cyber criminals and the people who chase them. If you’re like me, there are a few books I’ve read over the past few years, that I highly recommend. If you buy them through the Amazon links below, you don’t pay anything extra but I get a small commission. Those are all actual stories of real hackers and how they ultimately got caught, and to me they all read like the best thrillers ever.
- Kingpin: How one hacker took over the Billion-dollar cybercrime underground. Max Butler was a white hat who found that running the largest stolen credit card ring ever was quite profitable.
- Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker. The infamous Kevin Mitnick explains how he hacked into systems and escaped authorities multiple times, until eventually, he got caught.
- American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road. The rise and fall of Ross Ulbricht, the hacker behind infamous “dark web” drug ecommerce site Silk road.
Hopefully the entire DMCA gets thrown tf out.
I feel sorry for him, but can’t say it doesn’t give me a smirk after he being such an a-hole to me online.
That is true, however I have loved a few of their products. Never knew he was that involved with the hardware scene until this arrest other than True Blue.
Great article. Very informative. Thank you.
That was a great article. I always enjoy reading about how fu**ed team xecuter is.
Yeah, its good to watch how haker values like “freedom to launch” is literaly reveals to be piracy.
im not as estatic, even tho garyopa an tx were for profit they did good work and got the ball rolling in a few different consoles so that work is gonna be missed
It doesn’t matter what they made it for profit and what not.
What does matter is a judicial precedent declaring console hacking as a felony.
I hope they will look after dolphin, yuzu, vba, desmume and others so-called “freedom emulators”, which happens to be pirate software fore playing unlincesed copies of games without legit hardware.
Multiple court cases have proven that at least in the United States just possessing or using an emulator is legal. They have a precedent.
* SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA v. BLEEM
* Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. v. Nintendo of America, Inc.
It was a court’s mistake.
Possible due to old mainframe emulation for buisness lobbysts pulling threads under the curtains.
Hopefully case against Team Executor will repeal it.
The Business lobbyists for emulators? Please give me a break.
Yup, you didn’t know?
Its a large industry making profits by prolongin life of a multimillion dollar equpent like old cncs, mainframes with expencive buisness software, etc. And their customers have a large wealth so they can lobby such courts so judicial precedent never happens so they can save their billions for unnececary renovation and continue to legaly yse their obsolet but working equipment.
And that is the real reason why sony lawers did not crush emulation.
What a complete shill.
If I write a program that plays yours games, with zero of your code or copyrighted material, then there’s no law being broken. That’s not left for interpretation. There is no law being broken.
Feel sorry for morons like yourself who get bent over by corporations, and then thank them, and ask for more. Jesus….. what a sad existence.
Jesus, man. You are a f**king m**on. lol Almost feel bad for you.
How does it feel to be as wrong as you are right now in this very moment, multiple times, on this web site?
There is nothing illegal about emulation. Unless proprietary code is used to develop the emulator, it is just straight reverse engineering, which is legal.
Not sure what *** anger you have at emulation, but its unfounded.
They can’t. First these emulators aren’t for profit. Second they use their own code to emulate. So 100% legal.
Emulators will never be able to be outlawed or banned and quite honestly you are rediculous for hoping that they would be banned and most currently consoles have an OS that is built up from or a remodeled version of software first run in emulation and or “home brew”
Next point, you are violating absolutely nothing in either developing or using emulation software. Most of it is based on open-source. Roms are the only area that companies like Nintendo can do damnage. And to be honest, rom repos like emu-paradise and such were just lazy. It’s like they didn’t even care to hide anything. However even roms are a gray area because legally, “Nintendo has also said it in their own words” you can play and use ANY rom that you have digital rights to. So if I own a monster Hunter rise on my switch, but I have a patched switch and can’t dump the game to say, Yuzu….. I 100% legally can go to some random site and download a copy of the game instead and run it on Yuzu.
So maybe do some more research before you just start spouting off
I do not think that “they made emulator and therefore bad” would hold up in court. Unlike Team Xecuter, none of emus you mention advocate or condone piracy. Piracy is on the user, not the devs. Also I’m pretty sure you’re just as guilty of downloading a romset or two to play on such emulators. You’re here after all.
By the way judicial precedent are made.
Console hacking IS A FELONY.
Wololo, aren’t you afraid?
You hacked Sony Playstation Portable.
You can be on the dock next, you know?
This isn’t making console hacking illegal.
Nintendo isn’t going after Atmosphere, or any of the more legitimate Switch hackers for a reason.
TX sold piracy software, and much of their software contained proprietary code from Nintendo. That is already just illegal.
The Switchbrew team have done everything they can to stay legitimate. Its a very different case compared to TX.
I’m curious, what’s your favorite boot taste? Plain old olive oil?
Maybe he ***? Given how much he likes to lick and kiss that corporate ***
If you want something, pay the money seller asks.
why don’t you pay for a rope, tie it in a noose and play with it tonight?
False. Circumventing security with intent to, and following through with, promote piracy for profit is illegal.
Console hacking is not. The most you get hit with its breach of EULA, which means no support or warranty for you. Any insurance is usually void as well.
Nice try kiddo, but you know nothing of which you speak about. Console hacking will continue to be legal.
damn, alex. what a pedantic piece of *** you are.
people must like you a lot lmao
Yep. Other countries should deny extradition for Conners like these. It’s *** ridiculous.
I just don’t understand why are you happy? These Conners fate desides not only TX fate, it desides wenether console hacking will be declared legal deed or crime.
If I be in your shoes, i’d worried..
Yeah dude, so scared. Half the people here are from countries with sane copyright laws.
This @alex guy is such a troll… GTFO of here man….
Great article, very informative!
They should trial them in Europe.. .You know, where you BUY stuff and actually OWN IT instead of RENTING it…
“They should trial them in Europe.. .You know, where you BUY stuff and actually OWN IT instead of RENTING it…”
Amen to this.
GaryOPA goes back further than DS. OG Xbox days at least. He had this bonkers setup in Toronto. You just walked into his place and could buy modchips or get your console modded by him. But he also had an on-the-fly piracy disc burn thing going on. He had these terminal computers with databases of all the games he could burn. You’d select which ones you wanted, pay him for it, and right then and there your games were in one of his many towers, burning away. I think it was $5 a pop for an XBOX game. Back when internet was stupid slow, and I was young and poor, I have to admit that I did indeed purchase some. Also brought an Xbox that I was doing a hardmod for for a friend and I messed up my solder which he fixed for like $20.
I remember him on big hacking/scene forums as well. Can’t for the life of me remember the sites names now. One was the main forum for 360 hacking, especially around the time of the jtag exploit. That forum was awesome at the time for nerdy tech analysis of the 360 and what people were trying.
Before Maxconsole there were separate sites for separate consoles that he ran as well. hmm… maybe it was just ps3-console.org and xbox-console.org or something like that. Honestly can’t remember the url names, but he was the main author of all posts. Game release posts and most definitely all mod chip news. Pretty sure somebody else was doing maxconsole before him, but then it all kind of merged, with GaryOPA becoming the main guy. Really foggy memory.
Anyways, to me it’s just weird that it took as long as it did for him to get charged. He didn’t do a damn thing to cover his tracks. He was everywhere online, stupid easy to locate in Toronto, and it was blatantly obvious that he was neck deep in hacking and piracy.
He genuinely always seemed like a nice guy.
I learnt a lot.
Great article. American Kingpin seams very interesting.
Your tech agent wololo indickment …
Is there any picture of GaryOPA online?
FREE THE BOWSER!!!!!
Tough guy nintendo can go all batman over some dudes modding the switch, but they don’t want to fix their damn joycons is my third replacement in less than a year.
MaxConsole was a facade site?
Whoa, talk about karma. I was a member in their forums ages ago, during the PSP heydays. One of the worst experiences ever.
I wish the courts would stop the Chinese companies from selling these crappy arcade consoles with loaded games. I know the licenses have expired but still you are selling other peoples creation for a profit.
The piracy stuff is ***, and the guy in general is clearly a sleazy piece of ***, but nonetheless, this lawsuit is a *** mess, obviously because Nintendo is at it again with their anti-consumer *** (to be fair, Xecuter’s Switch stuff is also anti-consumer to a degree, but that’s besides the point).
Obviously he’s getting pinged for the piracy angle, but it’s naive to think that Nintendo isn’t after more. They don’t like hackers whatsoever, even though they can never actually offer features that they should, just like with Sony. *** Nintendo, more than anyone else.