Justice Department indicts hackers who plagued game devs for three years

They were good. Real good

It's not every day the US Department of Justice does something useful, much less nabs a group of big-time hackers who have plagued the game industry for years.

The DoJ has announced that it's indicted four individuals with charges that include identity theft, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and more than a dozen other offenses.

These hackers allegedly infiltrated gaming companies ranging from Valve and Epic Games to Zombie Studios and even Microsoft, in addition to purportedly working with Australian hacker SuperDaE, who last year leaked tons of early Xbox One details.

Of the four indicted, Canadian David Pokora and American Sanadodeh Nesheiwat have plead guilty to conspiracy charges.

More than a slap on the wrist

These hackers have been accused of plaguing game developers since 2011, their mischief and chicanery including accessing and/or leaking Gears of War 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 months before their official releases.

But they may have nailed their own coffin shut when they targeted Zombie Studios, developer of Blacklight Retribution, Daylight and - more importantly - the US military's AH-64D Apache helicopter simulation program.

That last one may be what got the DoJ concerned enough to go after these hooligans, though the $100 to $200 million (about £61-£123m, AU$114-$229m) in IP and other data the hackers are believed to have stolen, plus other costs, was probably of interest too.

Much of what Pokora and Nesheiwat claimed in their guilty pleas matches up with leaks and headlines over the years, including a lot of what SuperDaE confessed to Kotaku in 2013, particularly where Microsoft is concerned.

Pokora and Nesheiwat face up to five years in prison and at least $250,000 in fines, and the fate of the other hackers is unclear, though for now the DoJ is reportedly letting Australian authorities deal with SuperDaE.