Microsoft to cut the connection of Xbox gamers

11 November 2009

Most people, when they buy a games console, open the box, plug it in and play games on it until it breaks or goes out of fashion. However, there are some mental people who scratch their chins and think "How can I make this better? How can I piss about with the innards so I can play copied games on it?" These people are clever, but mental.

These people should be bracing themselves for a barrage of angry words on personal blogs and forums as Microsoft are threatening to chop the connection of Xbox Live users who have modified their consoles to play pirated games.

Apparently, as many as 600,000 gamers may have been affected already. Of the 20million users of Xbox Live users worldwide, it seems a bit small fry.

Microsoft have this to say on the matter: "All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live.

"The health of the video game business depends on customers paying for the genuine products and services they receive from manufacturers, retailers, and the third parties that support them."

One thing that is puzzling me is just how they know which gamers have been mucking about with their consoles.

Back over to Microsoft: "We do not reveal specifics, but can say that all consoles have been verified to have violated the terms of use."

It seems that the only thing getting mucked about is the gamer's connection. If you've got a chipped Xbox, it should still work just fine... apart from the fact you won't be able to go online with it. It could be a good thing because, instead of spending every waking hour pretending to be a soldier in a made-up world, you could actually go outside where real people are. Should you do such a thing, please email us and tell us what the outside world is like and what women smell of.



  • basquille
    "One thing that is puzzling me is just how they know which gamers have been mucking about with their consoles." Well.. I know one way would be the amount of people playing Halo 3 and GTA IV a few days before launch.
    I love the hatred in this post. Theres a comical story about some sad twat on BBC Newsbeat crying over being banned. Reckon's he downloaded 40 odd games and saved £600. What a tit.
  • Tesh
    not all of those could be modded consoles, games can come early if preordered, ie cod6 for some due to postal strikes came early via courier
  • jake1983
    "Well.. I know one way would be the amount of people playing Halo 3 and GTA IV a few days before launch." Not true anymore loads of online shops like send your games out early and you can get them up to 3 days early!
  • Jeffrey A.
    "It seems that the only thing getting mucked about is the gamer’s connection. If you’ve got a chipped Xbox, it should still work just fine… apart from the fact you won’t be able to go online with it." What rubbish reporting. Microsoft are not just cutting Live connections, but they are also reported to be completely screwing up users xboxes. Including screwing up all of their saved games and profiles so they can't be transferred to other consoles, disabling the ability to connect it to media centres, and play divx content. Now, if I'm not mistaken, that has NOTHING to do with xbox live, so quite how breaching the xbox live terms of service gives MS a ticket to completely destroy the entire box, I'm not quite sure.
  • Pete
    > Microsoft are not just cutting Live connections, but they are also reported to be completely screwing up users xboxes. You got a link for that ? Haven't seen that reported anywhere.
  • xboxball1e
    They "brick" the xbox because the firmware has been fecked with to get it to play copies. The xbox 360 is yours, but the firmware never is. Its in the terms of use. Thats why they stop them from working.
  • xboxball1e
    Brick means to turn the console into a BRICK.
  • SJT
    fairy nuff.......
  • oliverreed
    That's the way you roll if you choose that route, saving hundreds on games with the risk of losing your score card/saves is sweet fa really.
  • Yodhe
    What the real world smells of.... Sh*t mostly..... Stay indoors, at least you are only getting virtually killed, raped and maimed online. ;)
  • Codify
    If you've bought and legally own a product, you should be able to do what you want with it, including modifying it. Microsoft are well within their rights to ban you from Live if you have a modded box, but they shouldn't be kill-switching it so the box doesn't work at all, which is what they seem to be doing.
  • C4eva
    Not banned here....
  • Sean
    @codify - thats exactly my point. They are argueing that people have broken the xbox live terms of use. 'Terms of use' - that means what terms you have to abide by, in order to use xbox live. If you break those 'terms of use', they they only have a right to stop you from using it. Pretty simple, right? They have a right to stop you from using xbox live. Which is fair enough. But to start corrupting users data and banning them from being able to use basic functionality such as watching their own videos on their own xbox offline, is not on. I would put money on it not being long before class action is shouted.
  • Sean
    and this is mostly because such a great law exists that allows consumers to make 'a backup copy for personal use' of all media they are licensed to use. This covers everybody in the world pretty much, whether Microsoft say so or not. Oh, and for those people that start spouting bullshit such as 'Well if it wasn't for pirates, games wouldn't be so expensive so more people could legitimally afford them!' what absolute and utterly fuckity bollocks. I have three letters to blow this arguement away - PS£. No piracy, games are MORE expensive than the 360. So fuck off. And no, blu-rays are barely pence more expensive to produce than DVD before you say that.
  • Chris
    If film and music companies could do the same, they would. And if they could, it would deter a lot of piracy. This is the risk that pirates take - Getting banned. Most games become affordable within a few months, it's not too hard to wait.
  • Sean
    Chris - it doesn't work both ways. If games/videos/music were cheaper, less people would pirate them. That is the best way to deter piracy. Yesterday I bought the inbetweeners box set just because it was cheap. If it wasn't cheap I would have just been happy sticking with my downloaded divx copy. Charging £45 a game is the real theft. However, if less people pirated games, they would not drop the price of them. Because it would mean they are selling. And if they're selling, they wont drop the price. The media companies rule this world with an iron fist. They are greedy as hell, and would kill your grandmas to make more money.
  • RazorD
    Actually, they're not banning gamers, they're banning modified consoles. Modified consoles can still play offline, but all game saves, profiles and other data is changed.. "corrupted" so that if you try to use it on a non-banned console, you can't. IE: people can't use these banned consoles to cheat in gamerscore. Basically, Microsoft are doing everyone who, you know, actually pays for games and use the service in accordance to the law and terms of service, a favour.
  • me
    @ Sean - you seem to be forgetting/ignoring the process of remastering the original film etc that goes into producing all (decent) blu ray titles to get the best quality. The cost is not merely that to burn the film to disc/package it etc. Does make me laugh this article having seen the sudden HUGE increase of sale of banned xboxes on HUKD fs/ft forum! I did like one guys idea of having one modded xbox for offline "backup" play, and one for live on which only proper games are played.
  • Sagman76
    Come on c4eva get the 1.7 out and stop this mess.. Or are you stuck ??
  • Frank W.
    See, if you play with the Devil (M$) you will get burned. All buy a PS3!!!
  • grex9101
    meh, if you can't afford the games get a decent job. don't rip off the developers who get a fraction of what the games cost. It's theft. If you're too tight or too poor to buy legit games then you really need to sort out your life and your priorities.
  • Jack
    Please read this if you are ill informed. They do not kill switch your Xbox and brick it, they ban your console from connecting to Xbox Live. You can still game offline, and your account isn't banned either. Gosh
  • bwah h.
    Not banned here either...
  • Jack
    Plus that BBC article is so poor, so many mistakes and bits in it that shows they have no idea what they are reporting about. "Your console has been banned from Xbox" yeah that makes sense, missed ou the Live bit didnt you. And it says it only affects the gamers Xbox Live account, not true, simply bans the console from Xbl, not the account. Also talks about modchips, that as far as I know, don't yet exist for the 360, only flashes
  • Ace h.
    guys, it does corrupt the game save data and messes with your achievements. can also not play .avi/.divx films from external hard drive anymore. i know 5 people its happened too now so i know its not just a ban from xbox live.
  • Sean
    @me - I am talking about the differences in price between xbox 360 games which are allegedly heavily pirated, and ps3 games which have zero piracy. People claim that it is piracy that is driving up the cost of games for consumers to purchase when that is quite obviously a big bucket of nonsense. PS3 games, no piracy, RRP around £45 360 games, lots of piracy, RRP around £45. See my point?
  • Sean
    Infact, there is lots of talk that MS have engineered this from the start. That they purposefully left the 360 open to piracy to build a massive userbase and network of live users (hell, if all your mates have 360s, you're more likely to buy a 360) until such a time that they could afford to cut off the piracy base and convert as many as possible to legit systems. Seems like that might be where we are.
  • Ace h.
    Sean, do you not find it very convenient that they do it a few weeks before xmas... xmas sales of xbox360 to go up?! i do find how funny it is with the price of games. they've proven that they can sell them cheap and alot of people will buy it like the supermarkets have done with modern warfare2. yet they still expect us to pay £40+ for games?! and then there's the M$ games on demand crap. £20 for a game that i can buy for less then £7 in the shop... i think not. money grabbing bar stewards.
  • Brian
    Hi, my name is Brian. I own a XBOX 360 (& a PS3) and an iPhone 3gs.
  • tin
    @Sean, the correct answer of course if you think the media companies are greedy and their stuff overpriced, is to refuse to buy their product. IMHO fair do's to all those that have modded boxes and copy stuff, it's been that way since computer games existed, and it evidently hasn't really done the industry any serious harm, or it would have found out by now it's better to be in some other business. But if the producer manages to do something about it, including fucking up related stuff you thought you owned, it's only the very cheekiest of cheeky twats that would argue their rights are being violated by the person they've been happily robbing from. That said I hope MS make another great big thumping loss on the 360 that would please me no end :)
  • micro-shite
    legally you can make 1 backup copy of any original dvd you own... microshaft is shafting you all and your not raising the issue! hahahaha
  • Sideysid
    "One thing that is puzzling me is just how they know which gamers have been mucking about with their consoles." Simple - they have flagged (previously been gathering data over a long period)/or introduced a method with an update to detect the firmware...does anyone really believe c4eva when he said the firmware was 'undetectable'? Any chance MS have had a few bob to spare to sway him over on their side?.... All in time for xmas as well??? theres a coincidence
  • Phil H.
    Sean, You say the price for the ps3 games should be cheaper if what people were claiming was right, that piracy drives up the prices. It is the same publisher (except for a small minority of games) that has one game out on multi formats, so if the xbox piracy problem is driving prices up, that would effect the price of ALL games across ALL formats. If the xbox piracy was 0%, the price of games (across the board) COULD drop.
  • Jeffrey A.
    @Phil H Rubbish, there are plenty of PS3 exclusives, including developers that are sole platform developers, and they are just as, if not more expensive, than the dual platform publishers. If xbox piracy was 0%, I'm pretty sure I'd bet my own nan that the cost wouldn't drop. If anything I would guess it would go up... as there is no alternative.
  • What B.
    @ Micro-shite: Actually, you are not allowed to make a backup copy of any DVD you bought in th UK, and that extends to CD's. Ripping a legitimately purchased CD so you can put it on your mp3 player is unlawful (not illegal, a word which the media continually mis-use and mis-represent). There is no such thing as a fair use provision. illegal = commiting a criminal act, e.g. commiting robbery, assault, murder etc. unlawful = commiting a civil infringement, e.g. not honouring a contractual obligation, (civil or tort law) Big difference. However the media conglomerates would dearly like to make it a criminal (illegal) act so that they could call in the coppers to batter down your door at dawn and drag you off to jail.... ------------------------- There is no such thing as a 'chipped' xbox 360. What happens is a firmware update is applied to the DVD drive, erasing the stock firmware and flashing it with non stock firmware (iXtreme) so that *unlawfully* copied games can be played. There are many websites openly offering this flashing service, or you can buy the Xecuter kit and flash the drive yourself. But there are also genuine or legitimate reasons why you want to muck about with a xbox's DVD drives firmware, for example to extract the unique DVD drive key so that it can be kept in a safe place as a backup in case the DVD drive dies - which they do! If it does, then you can buy a cheapo replacement DVD drive and inject that key into the new drive and carry on gaming (The keys are stored on the CPU and DVD TSOP chip; they must match on boot up otherwise that xbox just becomes an expensive paperweight/movie DVD player) Xboxes also have a serious issue with the DVD drives scratching games. Now if you've just dropped 45 notes on a brand new game and the xbox eats it, you can't take it back to the shop for your money back. You could make an unlawful copy of the game and play that instead, then get rid of the copy if and when you sell the original game on. I have no sympathy for those who update the firmware and then download loads of cracked games, then find they get banned. I do have sympathy for those who choose to make a (unlawful) backup copy of a game they bought and get banned. But at the end of the day, you should never play backup/downloaded copies of games on Xbox Live, coz you will get banned sooner or later.
  • Jeffrey A.
    @Ace - interesting and probably very valid points. I personally will be continuing my existing policy. I'll continue to pirate the naff/OK games, but pay for the good ones. The ONLY difference is that now I need a second xbox. Easily enough done, but I bet the surge of people buying new boxes to do the same will look great on MS's christmas sales targets...
  • cookie
    What makes me laugh is how everyone complains about the after effects of the banning. If you're banned, then it's a 99.999999% certainty that you deserve to be banned- most likely for modification. You can't play avi, divx etc anymore? That's because your console needs to be connected online for the media update to work. You'll find that you can't play these videos on an unbanned 360 that's not connected to Live either- so you've not been shafted in any way, shape or form there... Your profile has been corrupted? Well there's a very simple method to get your profile back- you just recover it from XBox Live. Just don't put it back in your banned console, or it will be corrupted again. This is so that you are unable to keep any achievements you've earned on a banned console. An irritant, perhaps. Maybe you'd call it a detterent- but again, you've not been shafted. You've just reaped what you've sewn. As far as game saves, I can't find any corrupted saves. And yes, I was banned yesterday. Going back to legit gaming now.
  • Bob
    As always a terribly written and badly researched article on this website. It makes me wonder why I keep reading them and, if the authors on here actually get paid, why I'm not getting paid for writing corrections. This is nothing new, Microsoft implement a wave of console bans around this time every year (around the time of the major dashboard update). It would appear that they have numerous ways of collecting data about your 360 usage which could be stored on your hard drive even if you don't go online, ready to be uploaded whenever you do happen to connect to Live, and that they spend all year collecting and analysing this data before they actually implement the bans. And people get banned for all kinds of reasons, obviously for anything that violates the Xbox Live terms of service - including the 12v fan mod (soldering the power cable for the fans to a point on the motherboard which provides 12v instead of the usual 9v to make the fans run faster, which many people tried in an attempt to avoid getting 3 red light errors), abusing or threatening other gamers on Xbox Live or cheating although, yes, in most cases it's because they modded their consoles to play copied games (whether backups or pirated), although it's still unclear whether they can detect the modified firmware on the DVD drive or whether they look at the disks themselves. However they do it, Microsoft have assured everyone that they don't ban a console unless they have substantial evidence that the terms of service have been violated. This time around, however, they've taken it a bit further. Last month, Forza 3 was leaked about 3 weeks early and, being under pressure from the game's developers, Microsoft banned the Xbox Live accounts of anyone who was playing it online early (usually it's the actual console that gets banned, your Live account will be fine). Also, any consoles that have been banned recently also have reduced functionality - you can no longer install games to or play them from the hard drive, and using a hard drive on a banned console will corrupt your gamertag if you move the hard drive to another console, although you can then just recover the gamertag from Xbox Live and all will be fine, it's just inconvenient - however any save games you make on the banned console will also be corrupted on an unbanned console, effectively preventing you from keeping one console to play copied games and earn achievements on and another console for playing online and switching your hard drive seamlessly from one to the other. You can also not play DivX files on a console without being online unless that is the first console that you downloaded the optional media update on - if it isn't, you can transfer the digital rights, which is simple enough, but you need to get onto Live to do it, so if your console doesn't have the rights to play DivX files without being online and is already banned, it's too late.
  • NIS
    The timing of this was impeccable from micro$oft. Modern Warfare 2 is released, 600,000 users banned from live and their 360's knackered.. AND it's almost xmas. You have to hand it to them, they've kicked the pirates so hard in the bollocks it's actually even amusing to the pirates to see one of the big companies get one up. From my perspective I can whole heartedly understand why people get their consoles modified. I had a PS1 and PS2 both chipped immediately after purchased and that resulted in me spending very little on legit games.. When the PS3 came out I gave up all hope of piracy ever being an option, now that sony had realised the ambitions I had held for them (online gaming, home, music video streaming, soon to be movie streaming).. I don't feel guilty for downloading hundreds of games for the PS1 or PS2, the only games I truely appreciated, I did actually buy (FF7, MGS), y'know. What I find these days, being completely down the line and buying every game legit, is that I am ofcourse, a whole lot more picky. This is resulting in me actually playing DECENT games almost all the time and never these shitty little time fillers than I would spend so much time on before, it's much more quality > quantity. I paid £20 for Modern Warfare 2 (no joke, if you're from the UK, check makro) and I can honestly say it was money well spent... as was the £37 for MGS4, the £35 for Borderlands, the £30 for PES2010... I could go on. Anyways, i've rambled enough, great job M$, pity you didn't see piracy coming in the first place and made it difficult, like sony did.
  • Jase
    @Tesh...true. Friend from work had his delivered via. courier because of the postal strikes. He had enough time to complete it before its UK release date, without doing any stupid 12 hour non-stop sessions. I have to agree with RazorD on this one. Regular, non-gamer people don't seem to have a geek-meter and just brand us all the same; from the uber geek to the casual gamer (non Wii). The sooner there's some segregation between me and the uber geeks, the better. I thought Microsoft carried out a similar ban on Halo 2 modded content? Any console with modded versions of the downloadable maps were banned...named "The Banhammer". All I can say to people is stop being impatient. I'm over a year behind on the games I'd like to play, but I'm too busy to play I don't buy them. I've only just got Halo Wars and Gears of War 2. By the time you get around to buying them, they're a fraction of their price. The only exception I might make is with CoD6, and that's just 'cos of the unprecedented hype.
  • Glotz
    Nonsense. It bodes well for people who have been respecting piracy laws for years. I have personally rid myself of Xbox LIVE service due to the insane amount of modders and cheaters in games like Call of Duty, and they have received many thousands if not millions of complaints of tampered play. We don't allow it in the real world of competition (or shouldn't), moreover we should not allow it on a pay-per online gaming service. Their consoles aren't damaged from playing games, just from online enjoyment, which has very directly lead to cheaters exploiting the honest online, one of the only places extant where the law-abiders are being punished by the law-breakers. The PC issues were the genus of the problem with its inherent modding culture, and they have had to suffer the ban hammer's wrath, inadvertantly and unfortunately. And they are no better at deal with their emotions when their beloved long-term developers have jumped ship to the land of a pirate-free oasis.
  • Glotz
    Way to go Cookie. Way to man up. Deep respect for honesty.
  • Matt. S.
    I'm not sure where this cheaters things comes from. the ixtreme firmware only allows for the drive to report a DVD+R DL disc media code and being a DVDROM DL, and corrects the jitter calculations. we haven't broken the encyption the microsoft signs its games with and currently (apart from with the very old hack that doesn't work on updated machines) doesn't allow us to run unsigned content. This means that the games the "pirates" are playing, are bit for bit identical copies. no modifications are made, it isn't possible. People playing copies on live, aren't cheating, they aren't damaging your experience in anyway. I'm suspect at least in europe that Microsoft crippling the Xboxes is illegal, and I hope a class action suit is brought against them.
  • Alan
    These comments are funny. People are actually angry because MS stopped them stealing. If you steal from a shop, you get fined or a caution etc. You had your game saves messed up and can't play online. My heart weeps. And I think we can get one thing straight, no one (well, I would say probably less than 0.01% of owners) flashed their xbox so they could play backed up versions of games they already owned (sure they may have tried a game before buying, but that is still illegal)
  • Scott
    Not been banned after 6 years of using Xbox1 and 360 online. Simple rules, dont plan games before a release date or even put them into you xbox as this registers on your profile. And also keep yourself informed of any impending firmware changes, and if necessary unplug the ethernet until it safe. I've saved £1000's
  • Jeffrey A.
    @Alan Ever downloaded an MP3? Unlawfully ripped a CD that you don't own? Great. Because I'm coming round to smash all your stereos up, blow your TV apart, and kick your mum for good measure. But as you 'stole', its perfectly deserved. Might set fire to your dog while I'm there just for good measure as well.
  • Big F.
    Most computer games companies have gone bankrupt in the last 7 years ! Don't try and justify piracy you can't! Oh and it cost £6 million to produce and market a half decent game £45 is a bargain especially as you can resell it :)
  • Big F.
    Not been banned after 6 years of using Xbox1 and 360 online. Simple rules, dont plan games before a release date or even put them into you xbox as this registers on your profile. And also keep yourself informed of any impending firmware changes, and if necessary unplug the ethernet until it safe. I’ve saved £1000’s You've stolen £1000s not saved.
  • Mark M.
    Alan is tha man! If the story was about ASBO wielding thugs complaining that they couldn't steal from Home Bargains anymore as the council has stopped them going into town, we would laugh at them. What's the difference here?
  • Anon
    "If the story was about ASBO wielding thugs complaining that they couldn’t steal from Home Bargains anymore as the council has stopped them going into town, we would laugh at them. What’s the difference here?" Because no act of theft has taken place ergo, it isn't stealing. I'd say that was a pretty big difference. Going into a shop and taking a game off the shelf is theft, because you are stealing the physical disc and case. Downloading a version is a copyright infringement, you are not permanently intended to deprive someone of an object because the game is intangible. There is no such thing as copyright "theft", no matter how much FACT want to make it so. I think argument about the financial implications of piracy is an interesting one. I bought an Xbox 360 because I knew I could play pirated games on it. I've bought extra controllers to allow my mates to play too when we have a game and pizza night. Because of this, quite a lot of my friends bought Xboxes too, which were then flashed. We all bought Live subscriptions so we could play online. The consoles, peripherals and subscriptions are all money in Microsoft's pocket. If I like a game, or know that I will use it often, I'll pay for it. GTA IV and MW2 are examples... I've even bought games through the Arcade on XBL. So in terms of my usage, MS can consider themselves in profit off me as can a couple of the games companies. Without piracy, I wouldn't have got an Xbox, so I wouldn't have bought games. My Live subscription is just about to lapse and if I get banned, so be it. I'm not going to bitch and whinge about it because it was always a risk. But Microsoft will miss out on the £XX I spent on Live every year (I also disagree with this "cheating" business. I don't see any way to cheat on Live through the firmware flashing. As mentioned above... the games are just an exact copy of originals.) Now some people aren't pirates, yet they also don't put any money into the games industry either. Developers don't see a penny of the money some people spend on rentals of games yet this is positively encouraged. Buying a second hand game? You're also not putting food on the table for the lads and lasses creating games. So when people moan about pirates "robbing" from the industry, I assume they also look down on people who don't buy, just rent, don't buy new or borrow from their mates? It definitely isn't as black and white as some people seem to think it is.
  • Anon
    In addition, MS should think themselves lucky that there are some people out there who know how to take Xboxes to bits. Means they have a good chance of fixing them when they RRoD without having to ship the whole thing over to Germany for Microsoft to deal with!
  • Alan
    @ Jeffrey Archer Yes I have stolen songs, videos, and even the occassional PC game. The difference being of course is I know what I am doing and if Johnny law found out and merely took my PC away I would consider myself quite lucky.
  • Jeffrey A.
    @Alan But the differences there, are that you're quoting what the Police would do. MS are not the Police (god no, Sting would be rolling in his grave!) and have no right to destroy peoples equipment. And the other difference is proof. MS are banning and crippling consoles on the grounds that they 'may' have done something unlawful but have no actual proof. Modifying firmware is not unlawful. Using backup media is not unlawful. It is only when people use backup media of software they are not licensed to use that it becomes unlawful. And MS have *no* proof of that. Sure, if they wanted to report people to the police and send them round to check your collection, they could do that. Not that the Police would be bothered. But acting as judge, jury and executioner on this whole thing based upon unsubstantiated best guesses is a bit gay.
  • Captain
    Why dont all the people who got banned move over to playing the PS3....i got banned 2 weeks ago and now only play the ps3....the good thing is that i now still play copied games the the 360 but dont have to worry about stealth patches and the like! i have a 1000 points on MW2 already and Dragon age is an awsome game!!! i may even buy it for the PS3 next week
  • Monkey_Boy
    What happened to Xlink Kai? I thought they were going to take on the mantle (as they did with the original Xbox)
  • negbobsquarepants
    “One thing that is puzzling me is just how they know which gamers have been mucking about with their consoles.” Possibly by offering some of the most popular games as torrents with modified code to report back to Microsoft that this user is playing the modified game??
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