1 Million Xbox 360 Pirates Banned - What It Means For Normal Gamers
Thursday November 12, 2009
The big headline this week (other than Modern Warfare 2) has been Microsoft bringing down the ban hammer on anywhere between 600,000 and 1,000,000+ people that have modified their Xbox 360 to play illegal copies of games. This is a good thing. Those pirates do not deserve sympathy. And anyone who thinks they were justified in stealing games is just completely, utterly, dead wrong. This whole ordeal raises a few questions for honest gamers, however, and I'll try to answer them here.
First, to clarify what these bans actually mean. The systems themselves were banned from ever using Xbox Live again. They still work, they still play games, and pirates could keep pirating if they wanted, but they can't use Xbox Live. Xbox Live is the heart of the Xbox 360 experience (Netflix, XBLA, 1 vs. 100, movie/TV downloads, demos, DLC, party chat, online gameplay, etc.), and cutting out the heart leaves a bland shell of a system behind, which is why this ban is hitting pirates so hard.
Second, as long as you are using legit retail Xbox 360 systems, there is no way you could possibly be accidentally banned. Microsoft can see the DVD drive firmware pirates are using and are banning them because of that. If you are legit, you have no worries.
Third, eBay and Craigslist are currently flooded with banned Xbox 360 systems pirates are trying to sell for dirt cheap. Be wary of these. Obviously, you won't be able to use Xbox Live if you buy one, but if one of these modded systems breaks, Microsoft absolutely will not fix it. Likewise, GameStop, or any other trade-in place with a brain, won't (or at least aren't supposed to) accept modified systems. To mod a system it has to be opened up, which voids the warranty by breaking a seal on the front of the system. Again, Microsoft and/or a savvy GameStop employee can tell if a system has been modded, so if it breaks or you want to try to trade it in, you're screwed.
Fourth, in a related topic, I have seen some people worried that playing early retail copies of games could make them a target for being banned. This absolutely will not happen. The scenario happens all the time - a retailer sells copies of a game a week or two earlier than they should -and MS can't and won't punish you just because you bought it early. If you have a legit 360, and are playing legit retail copies of games, you have nothing to worry about. You don't have to send in a pic of your receipt. You don't have to stay offline until the game's release date. You don't have to do anything. You won't be banned.
Fifth, and finally, if there are people who you know are pirates and you want to do something about it, you can contact Microsoft's Director of Policy and Enforcement for Xbox Live, Stephen Toulouse, via Twitter at Twitter.com/stepto. His team will investigate any Gamertags you bring to their attention and hand out bans accordingly.
Bottom Line - If you pirate, you will be caught. If you are legit, you don't have anything to worry about, but be wary of eBay and Craigslist sellers offering deals that are too good to be true.
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Tema - Matteson IL
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