Microsoft act against the game pirates

Elizabeth Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean

This is brilliant. And about time too. Some people modify their Xbox game consoles so that they can steal games. They don’t want to pay the developers for all the work that has gone into making the game. They are quite happy to be thieves when they think that they won’t be caught.

But Microsoft has caught them! They have quietly been using Xbox Live to check every machine on there (20ish million) to see if they have been modified. And now they are banning all the thieves. Microsoft say a small percentage have been banned. The BBC is reporting that it is 600,000. Rumour on the web has it at nearer a million.

An Xbox is absolutely brilliant with Xbox Live. It is the biggest and best gaming portal in the world. Take away Live and an Xbox is substantially degraded in what it offers. So taking Live away from the thieves makes their Xboxes close to useless.

So the thieves are screaming in anger all over the net. Which is exceptionally funny to watch as they have been caught red handed. They have no options now but to go and buy a new Xbox and start a new Live account. So that’s possibly a million extra Xbox 360s that Microsoft will sell this Christmas. The profit on these will probably not get them back what they have lost to their games being stolen, but it is a contribution. Also their timing is brilliant, just as the biggest game ever, Modern Warfare 2, is launched. No wonder the thieves are so annoyed.

Overall this is one of the better moments in the ongoing war between those who work to create brilliant games and those thieves who try to steal that work from them.


  1. I would dearly like to see a comparison between the piracy of “bad” games and “brilliant” games, considering a “brilliant” game is more likely to be a “bought” game instead of a “pirated” one.

    Not that I condone game piracy at all. I just think we gamers aren’t getting much value for money these days as far as quality and volume of content goes. Cause and effect.

  2. Most pirates don’t care if it’s bad or brilliant as long as it’s free. It’s like saying you can steal any car you want, why steal a Ford Ka, when you can steal a Veyron?

  3. I don’t understand how you can say that disabling the console from accessing Xbox Live renders it “close to useless” when all it actually does it means that the owner of the console can’t play games online, access their friends list or download marketplace content.

    You can still play your games on them, which is surely the main use for a games console?

    Media streaming over a LAN would also still function, allowing them to watch / listen to all the movies / music that they’ve downloaded illegally too. So surely not “close to useless” eh?

  4. Hard disk installs have now been disabled with bans in this new war on terror also. Bloody good job lol.

  5. Fair play to Microsoft for detecting and cutting off the modders.

    Still, I’d hardly think that they’ll be getting a million new sales out of this. More likely, a lot of people those who’ve been affected will be getting a Sony or Nintendo console instead; at least until they start clamping down similarly.


    “My name’s Raz, I’m 25 years old, I’m a massive Xbox gamer. I play every day after work and all day on the weekends.

    The Xbox for me is just about playing online, that’s why I love it – well did!

    It was a big day yesterday, the latest game we’ve been waiting months and months for. We’ve played the whole series and this one’s come out, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

    All loading up, everything’s going well, I was happy. It came on to the start screen of Call of Duty and I thought, ‘Do you know what, let me quickly sign in online’. I sign in online and next thing I see, ‘Your console has been banned from Xbox’.

    I was pretty distraught at the time, I can’t remember exactly what it said but I saw the words ‘banned’ and I was gutted, completely gutted.

    At first I was in shock, I mean it’s always at the back of your head using pirate games you know there’s that possibility but you haven’t heard about it, there’s been no warnings and you haven’t heard it happen to anyone in the last two years.

    I wasn’t expecting it. I was just like, ‘OK, what do I do now? Is this just a joke?’ So I thought, ‘Let me restart the Xbox’. I restarted, signed in again, same message. I did that three times, same message. I was pulling my hair out thinking, ‘No, why me?’

    It’s like telling someone their dog’s just died. It was pretty much like that for me. I love it, I love playing Xbox live. I play with my mates all the time. It’s just a good laugh, we all sit there chatting, playing games. Now I don’t know what to do.

    I still think they should lower the prices. There are 16-year-old kids out there, they don’t earn money so they go screaming to their parents saying, ‘Can you buy me this game?’

    Fair enough, one game once in a while but the amount of games coming out, good games, everyone wants to play them all. And for them to pay £50 a game?

    I took it into a shop [the Xbox], there was a guy back there and I asked him and he did it for me [chipped it]. He charged £75 to get it chipped but at the end of the day I said to myself I’ll pay £75 to get it chipped, after two games I’ve paid the money back.

    I’ve probably saved about £600 and I’ve copied roughly 30 or 40 games. A lot of them I’ve downloaded or I’ve taken off friends that have downloaded themselves.

    To be honest, I’ve contemplated whether to move to Playstation 3 or buy another Xbox. I wouldn’t do it again but I really don’t know if I’m going to get the Xbox again now.”

  7. Great post from someone who either works for or is getting paid to espouse Microsoft’s point of view. How about the people who simply upgraded their hard drive because they didn’t want to pay twice as much for a crappy proprietary drive from MS? They didn’t “steal” any games, yet are being punished for being intelligent enough to install a 3rd party hard disk drive.

  8. True politux, but thats the microsoft way. If my current xbox does die (on my second), I will probably buy a PS3 now thats its more realisticlly priced, you get alot more bang for buck and can put in your own HD if you like. If my 60gb ever does become too small, or my wifi attachment (biggest periphereal rip off ever) does give up, I’ll be damned if i pay out for MS’s official products. Was chatting to my mates about this, they have all gone out and bought MW2 for the online stuff, I laughed and said I dont play online any more, and one of my mates turned round and said “You may as well pirate your games mate, you dont care about the online stuff”. Goes against everything I believe in, ever since piracy was mostly responsible for killing the Amiga (and now PC) and allowing the piles of japanese turds like the SNES and megadrive to take over. That and the fact I would lose the option to install my games onto the hard drive lol.

    With regards to the custom HD’s, its a sore point, but hey its M$, they make Sony look like Napster sometimes lol.

  9. Bruce – does the fact that only 600,000 consoles have been banned, when there are 20 million users completely ruin all your piracy arguments? How many of those 600,000 people would not have bought a console in the first place if they had not been able to get free games? How can piracy be rampant on the Xbox when less than 3% of consoles have been modified in this way? Not trolling, serious question.

  10. Why would any pirate consider getting a PS3 when it’s a very difficult, nigh on impossible console to hack?

    The whole point is they want to game for free, so giving them a console, where heaven forbid they have to pay for their entertainment would be a silly idea.

  11. Great job Microsoft! Unfortunately, pirates are scheming, evil, and they’ll find a way around this within a week. Just wait and see.

  12. @Brabahoo
    You don’t really think that MS zapped all the flashed consoles?
    MS obviously have a sort of points system and have just taken out the worst offenders this time, hoping to shock the rest into behaving.

  13. People that don’t get caught out in this wave of bans aren’t going to suddenly start “behaving” as you suggest – with a new 360 costing around £130 (or even cheaper if you buy one second-hand) the relative cost of having to replace the console if you get banned far outweighs the amount of money that the scumbag game copying types “save” as a result of not paying for their games.

  14. Like so many anti-piracy efforts this will be an arms race, there are patches out there as workarounds to hide the mods.
    However, while chipping is illegal in most of he UK (and the US etc) it’s a legal act in Spain – which may explain the prevalence of piracy on many consoles there.
    It’s only one weapon in the IP owners armoury-
    I guess it’s analogous to resetting or not supporting jail-broken phones is standard practice in the Cellular industry.

  15. This also echoes the ‘arms race’ as DMK calls it that has been going on in the Satellite dish industry in the last several years, at least in North America. The providers disable or zap sat consoles, the pirates and modders come up with a workaround or an exploit. Not sure where it will go with the games industry, but with Sat equipment it has gotten much more difficult and expensive I think for the pirates at this point.

  16. i “lol’d” so hard i almost spat my tea all over the monitor.

    any chance of a direct link to some of the web sights where the cry babies are QQ’ing please, because truely free entertainment is rare these days.

    i remember the wow patch where blizzard banned all the “wow-glider” losers, the forums for the site selling the hack were amazing to read, fully grown men and women crying like little babies …1 muppet kept banging on about;

    “but i haven’t used it in months”

    well, thats no excuse is it.

    it’s simple , you cheat , you get caught , you get the big shaft-a-roonie, and we all laugh at you.

    am i unsympathetic ?

    damned right i am 😀

  17. Got to agree with Steve on that…you pays your money (or don’t pay in this case) and you takes your chances…you have the freedom to cheat sytems if you want, but nobody should be crying when they get caught. I’m not completely familiar with the upgradable hard drive situation on the 360, but I do have some sympathy for those who simply wanted more storage and so swapped in their own HD.

  18. I have never pirated a game. I don’t even illegally download music. I hate pirates, because they make everything more expensive for the rest of us.

    What I did do was use a third-party hard drive with my Xbox. I didn’t even realize MS saw something wrong with this… all their other accessories have third-party alternatives. I did this nearly 8 months ago. I would have had to use 3 seperate MS hard drives at almost 4 times the cost to store the same number of save games/downloaded games. I’ve spent 1000’s of dollars on games and downloads. Like I said, I’ve never, ever, ever pirated ANYTHING. So why did my xbox get banned from Live? MS won’t give me a straight answer… they just say I violated the terms of use. Won’t even tell me how for sure, so I’m not even sure the hard drive is the problem.

  19. I’m a bit late to the post here, but I think there are far-ranging complications here, and this may be a brilliant idea in the short-term to goose sails, it is absolutely a terrible idea in the long run.

    Now we have 1 million unusable XBoxes in the wild that the (already established as nefarious) previous owners are going to unload. They’re going to buy new ones from stores and return the old ones in their place. They’re going to sell their old ones on ebay. They may even donate them or otherwise give them away.

    Their new owners will be screwed, because the hardware they bought is useless as far as connecting to Live. They may not know why. Microsoft is going to take a hit to their credibility (just when it’s been a while since the Red Ring fiasco), and I suspect their support costs may jump too.

    They’re going to have to decide whether they want to unban consoles–letting all the hackers back in–or whether they want to tell the folks who unwittingly bought a modified Xbox that they’ve been burned.

  20. I do like the timing of their attack.

    And surely you can remove the chip and then start a new account. As it is your Xbox Live account that is affected.

    As I have all 3 consoles of the current generation, I wouldn’t swap a 360 for a PS3. It feels more solid, especially since 3rings isn’t much of a problem any more.

    And if MS buy EA… I will want a 360 close by

  21. … while I’m ranting / procrastinating from my piracy essay…

    @Steve L

    If you remember Driv3r… they did not release a demo on PC when it was launched, and it was a terrible game.

    Hence your arguement should be closer to : if your not allowed to test drive a car before you buy it to find out it is rubbish… should you steal one before you buy it?

  22. Its so funny that even If I buy 3 more xboxes this year I have still saved hundreds of dollars on the huge list of games I have, and I do plan to get more, The game developers are doing fine, when they release a game and a week later have down-loadable content for it, why couldnt they put that in the game?? I understand a year later but come on..

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