Long arm of the law stretches from Niigata to Tokyo in investigation into “the ultimate save data.”

A common recurring theme in Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series is the need for a hero to secure the Triforces of Courage, Power, and Wisdom. Unfortunately, a man in Tokyo has recently learned the consequences of offering power by unwise means.

In April, Chinese national Ichimin Sho, who currently resides in Tokyo’s Toshima Ward, posted a listing on a Japanese e-commerce site selling save data for The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the franchise’s flagship installment for the Nintendo Switch. This wasn’t just any save data, either, as Sho billed it as “the ultimate save data.”

So what made it ultimate? Well, whatever the buyer wanted. What Sho was offering was modified save data that could boost the player’s stats and abilities however they’d like as well as make it easier for them to obtain rare items. Setting his price at 3,500 yen (US$32), he managed to attract two interested buyers from outside Tokyo.

▼ Incidentally, this is a testament to how popular Breath of the Wild remains more than four years after its release.

Unknowingly, though, he also attracted the attention of the Niigata Prefectural Police, who arrested the 27-year-old Sho on Thursday for violation of the Unfair Competition Prevention Act. He has admitted to the charges, and also said in his statement that he’s been selling hacked video game save data since December of 2019, earning about 10 million yen in the process.

One could theoretically argue that selling game progress in a game without any competitive multiplayer aspect is a more or less victimless crime, but the issue seems to be the method by which the progress was made. According to Japan’s Association of Copyright for Computer Software, Sho’s specific violation was “providing services to circumvent the technical restrictions” placed on the Switch by its manufacturer, and getting paid to do so though the actual data alteration was done by an as-yet unidentified accomplice.

With the arrest of a Japanese man in Nagoya in February for selling custom-designed Pokémon for Pokémon Sword and Shield, this is the second time this year illicit Switch data sales have led to an arrest in Japan, so others considering this sort of money-making scheme might want to just let impatient gamers do their own grinding.

Sources: Association of Copyright for Computer Software via IT Media, Broadcasting System of Niigata
Top image: YouTube/Nintendo
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