He might have gotten away with it if someone in Kyoto hadn’t wanted an extra-strong Sobble and Scorbunny.

This week, police in Aichi Prefecture arrested a 23-year-old resident of Nagoya. For about a year, the man had been running an operation in which he captured animals, tinkered with the very essence of their being to alter their appearance and physical capabilities, and then sold and delivered them to customers who had requested such creatures.

This may sound like the nefarious scheme of a combination poacher/mad scientist, but it was actually the money-making plan of Kazuki Kawamatsu, a 23-year-old Nintendo Switch hacker. After modifying his Switch to allow him to connect it to his PC and alter game data, he started selling custom-built Pokémon for use in Pokémon Sword and Shield, allowing customers to pick the Pocket Monsters’ color and stats, and even add in-battle abilities the species were unable to obtain through normal gameplay.

Kawamatsu offered his services online by posting on a website dedicated to real-world money exchanges for video game items, often at a price of 500 yen (US$4.80) per Pokémon, and found enough customers that he was able to sell approximately 1.15 million yen (US$11,110) worth of them through last November. However, his designer-baby Pokémon lab has been shut down following his arrest on Thursday for violation of Japan’s Unfair Competition Prevention Law, which Kawamatsu has admitted to.

The specific incident Kawamatsu was arrested for was an April 2020 sale of six Pokémon (enough for a full traveling in-game party) to a 36-year-old man in Kyoto. Kawamatsu charged the man 4,400 yen, and oddly enough the Pokémon included Sobble and Scorbunny, both starter Pokémon that the player can obtain at the very start of the game (though ostensibly the Kawamatsu-supplied specimens had higher stats).

So remember kids, the true path to becoming a Pokémon Master is one of determination and hard work, not hacking and data sales.

Sources: NHK News Web, The Sankei News, Mainichi Shimbun, Yahoo! Japan News/CBC TV
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