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How Sobble Sent This Pokemon Player To Jail

If Pokemon has taught anime and video game fans anything, it's that friendship, perseverance, and belief in oneself are the keys to success. However, one industrious man in Japan found a different path to wealth and is now paying the price for it.


Asahi News (via Kotaku) reported that a man was arrested in the Aichi Prefecture for illegally selling a Sobble from Pokemon Sword and Shield in April 2020. The "unemployed Nagoya resident, allegedly hacked the character via computer and sold it to a Kyoto man for 4,400 yen ($42)." The article did not go into detail about what the buyer intended to do with the Sobble, or why people would want to buy modded Pokemon to begin with.

The man supposedly violated a Japanese law against unfair competition that might feel strange to many Westerners, especially in this age of pay-to-win games. The law covers many potential unfair advantages, including the use of audio visual equipment to learn trade secrets. It also deals with the acquisition of materials that could lead to an unfair advantage in competitions, as well as the purposeful intention to copy another company's branding. Though the suspect didn't copy Nintendo's logos, he reportedly altered part of Nintendo's programming to give his clients an advantage in their Pokemon matches, and that, certainly, is unfair.


At a press conference, police showed the computer used to reprogram Sobble. That the man was supposedly able to sell modded Pokemon for so many months is an impressive feat given Nintendo's history of banning users with hacked Pokemon. The suspect may have come clean all on his own though. Asahi News reported that the man confessed to his crimes and cooperated with prefecture police.

The more complicated issue at play doesn't have to do with Sobble per se, but with the thousands of dollars the suspect made from selling modded Pokemon. As detailed by Kotaku, the man was "believed to have earned 1,150,000 yen ($10,900) for selling modded Pokémon Sword and Shield characters." It's unclear who the man's clients were or if they in turn profited off of modded Pokemon. One thing's for sure: that's a pretty penny made off of pocket monsters.

Pokemon memorabilia outside of the games can also be worth exorbitant amounts of money. One YouTuber suffered a huge loss when his Pokemon card valued at $55,000 went missing in the postal system while on its way to be graded. Pokemon is serious, expensive business, but crime doesn't pay, and modded Pokemon are almost always found out.