Major Nelson, Microsoft's XBOX game advocate, has reported on his blog that XBOX Live has begun aggressively enforcing bans against users with modded consoles. The mods, of course, allow the use of bootlegged game discs. This bootlegging is bad for publishers on Microsoft's console, and hence bad for Microsoft. This doesn't represent a change in official Microsoft policy, just that enforcement has been stepped up.
[On a side note, this is one of the key reasons that Sony wanted Blu-ray in their latest console. Bootlegging PlayStation 2 discs was as easy as pie, and Sony didn't want to get burned again this time around. By putting games on Blu-ray, they get better encryption, images too big to transfer easily online, and discs that most of us still don't have the equipment to copy. Sorry to those of you who think otherwise, but it has little or no impact on graphical quality in games...not sure who started that myth.]
Of course this happens a couple months after I got my XBOX 360 modded. Of all the consoles I have owned, the 360 is the only one that has ever been modded. Why? Because after about 38 months of ownership and very delicate use, my XBOX 360 contracted the dreaded red ring of death (RROD) and stopped working. Microsoft informed me that I was just outside my warranty and told me that it would cost me $100 or so to get it fixed.
I didn't want to spend that much to get a three-year-old console fixed when I could get a newer one with more features for about $200. So I went to Craigslist and looked for a used system to buy. I was ready to pull the trigger when I came across an ad from someone who offered to repair the console for $50. Long story short, I take my console to this kid's house with $50, and two hours later he handed me my working console complete with mods. I never missed a day of gaming while waiting for the repairs to be done.
To be honest, I haven't made much use of the modding. I have maybe six bootleg games with dozens of legitimate games 360 in my library. To be sure, if I like a game or album or movie, I'm gonna buy it. But Microsoft refusing to continue supporting its early adopters after they bought a console with known defects is ridiculous. I jumped on board the XBOX 360 bandwagon long before most people, and my reward is that I paid more for a louder console with no HDMI port and a predictable hardware defect. Oh, and now I might get banned from XBOX Live. Thanks, Microsoft.
According to recent reports, a workaround for a getting a banned console back on XBOX Live has been found. It seems that information arrived a bit prematurely, but it is no surprise that there are hackers currently hard at work to find a countermeasure to Microsoft's bans. There's no estimate on when the workaround will arrive yet.
Perhaps most surprising to me is the second-to-last paragraph of the article, which says:
DailyTech's sources claim the ban blocks game installations to the hard drive and the Windows Media Player extender, corrupts save games and Gamertags, and disallows the console from accessing Xbox LIVE.
I haven't confirmed this yet, but if this is true, it would be downright gangsta on Microsoft's part. Banning consoles from XBOX Live is one thing, but scrambling someone's saved games and user data is just downright malicious. I might even question whether it's legal as some have done with the ban itself. (Of course, I have to point out here that I am not a lawyer, so I have no idea whether it's legal or not. Still, it's heavyhanded and wrong.) If somebody can confirm/refute the truth of that statement, I'd be happy to hear from you.