Japan is coming down pretty hard on anyone involved with console modding services and save editors. Both practices are now illegal in the country, with heavy consequences for those who don’t play ball.
If you’re found to be involved with such dealings, you could be liable for up to a 5 million yen fine (around £36,000), five years of prison time, or both. Definitely not worth the risk for anyone who just wanted to add Crash Bandicoot to their PlayStation Classic.
These strict new laws come as part of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Act, which was revealed in December 2018. In essence, these laws are in place so that people can’t profit off of some other company’s hardware (cough, Soulja Boy, cough).
Unfortunately, the way the law is worded allows it to be extended to acts such as adding new games to your NES/SNES/PS Classic consoles through mods, or even using an Action Replay device. Certainly not things any of us would have thought warrants five years in the slammer.
According to a Siliconera, these are the three punishable actions:
• Distribution of game save data editors and programs
• Distribution, selling, auctioning serial codes and product keys without the software maker’s permission
• Services that offer the editing/hacking of save data, and/or modifying/hacking game consoles
As you’d expect, products like Action Replay have now been discontinued in Japan as a result of the act. I remember my using an Action Replay back when I was ten so I could get Mew in Pokemon Fire Red.
Obviously, if there was any chance that such a harmless act could have landed my dad in prison for five years, I probably wouldn’t have risked it. Probably.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.