Home Japanese game hacker arrested for selling modded Pokemon, facing five years in jail

Japanese game hacker arrested for selling modded Pokemon, facing five years in jail

A 36-year-old man has been arrested in Japan’s Kyoto Prefecture for selling modded Pokemon in the Pokemon: Scarlet & Violet Nintendo Switch game for thousands of yen at a time.

Interior decorator Yoshihiro Yamakawa from Uji City is suspected of breaking the Unfair Competition Prevention Act by “illegally falsifying the abilities of monsters appearing in the popular Nintendo Switch software Pokemon Violet”, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK.

It is not new news that Nintendo and the Pokemon Company take a dim view of profiteering from its IPs, and generally modding of any kind, but as soon as you start to make money from it, it is rarely a matter of time before you feel the long arm of the law.

Yamakawa has admitted the charge telling police, “It was to earn a living.”

Using freely available software from the internet, Yamakawa modded Pokemon and game save files to enhance the abilities of the (pretend, yes really) monsters. It is illegal in Japan to modify save game data and distribute it, so Yamakawa selling these modded files for up to ¥13,000 ($85) could land him with a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of ¥5 million.

That could well cue an awkward cellmate conversation on your first night when they ask you what you are in for and you have to tell them it is for making monsters stronger.

The computer software copyright protection organization ACCS told NHK that “falsification of data not only impairs the enjoyment of the game but also may disrupt the balance of the game even in online matches. On top of that, we are calling attention to those who are using falsified data to recognize that it is made by illegal means and stop using it.”

Featured Image: AI-Generated with Ideogram

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Paul McNally
Gaming Editor

Paul McNally has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision in 1980. He has been a prominent games journalist since the 1990s, spending over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title published by IDG Media. Having spent time as Head of Communications at a professional sports club and working for high-profile charities such as the National Literacy Trust, he returned as Managing Editor in charge of large US-based technology websites in 2020. Paul has written high-end gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine,…

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