Microsoft unleashes banhammer on 1 million Xbox Live players

Cries of frustration, anger and grief rose up from parents’ basements across the land as a million Xbox Live players found themselves cut off from the service in an anti-piracy blitz by Microsoft.

Microsoft describes the number of affected modded consoles as “small,” and commented on the move unapologetically:

“We have taken action against a small percentage of consoles have been modified to play pirated game discs,” Microsoft told GamesIndustry.biz today. “In line with our commitment to combat piracy and support safer and more secure gameplay for the more than 20 million members of our Xbox Live community, we are suspending these modded consoles from Xbox Live.”

While banninated users can’t participate in Xbox Live, affected consoles work offline, so the console isn’t totally bricked. That’s of little comfort to users who have fallen afoul of the ban, one of whom commented at length to the BBC:

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.

The move comes just as the highly anticipated Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 hit shelves– a release that was reportedly widely pirated before it was available for purchase. Although many users have praised the ousting of the rule-circumventing Xbox owners, alienating 5% of the 20 million players on Xbox Live just seems counterintuitive. I also imagine that the users who would spend money to mod their consoles (the user quoted by the BBC spent £100 to do so) might also be the players who are dedicated enough to pour revenue into the company in other ways. Well- perhaps they were the customers who poured revenue into the company in other ways, but that’s not very likely now.

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