Console modding and save editing has just become very illegal in Japan due to revisions to the Unfair Competition Prevention Act. Anyone caught violating the act can face a 5 million yen ($46,070) fine with the possibility of up to five years in jail.
That’s right, simply modding your retro (or newer) console and using Action Replays can lead to draconian consequences. The initial Unfair Competition Prevention Act was enacted to combat music, software, and video piracy — but lobbyists fought for the revisions to “protect” the gaming industry.
Here are the three major infractions that will affect gamers living in Japan:
- Distributing game save data editors and programs (like Action Replays and Game Sharks).
- Distributing, selling, auctioning serial codes and product keys without the software maker’s permission. This includes DLC codes, raffles, and digital-bundled codes in physical media.
- Serves that offer editing or hacking save data and modifying video game consoles.
Modded consoles are popular within the retro gaming community to by-pass region-locking, to develop homebrewed games, and to emulate hard to find or expensive retro games. Editing save data can greatly speed up the progress in grind heavy games, such Pokémon and Monster Hunter.
These practices were accepted within the Japanese gaming community before these revisions. Though it’s considered a grey area, it was combated by voided warranties for bricked consoles and banning modded consoles from online play. Serial codes are one-use and tend to have expiration dates.
Image via lotsofgames
While it’s unlikely a dedicated task force will be created to hand down the stern punishments, it will damage the re-sell market.