back to article Microsoft boots modders off Xbox Live

One year after it warned that Xbox 360 owners who've modified their consoles would be kicked off Xbox Live, Microsoft today confirmed that a percentage of subscribers have indeed been given the boot. Modifying an Xbox 360 to play copies of games is “a violation of the Xbox Live terms of use”, Microsoft warned on 13 November …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sony in contrast...

    Maybe the fact that there are currently no working mods for the PS3 is a more likely reason for inaction from Sony, than purely charitable nature.

  2. GottaBeKidding

    No PS3 bans?

    The reason there have been no PS3 bans is that the PS3 is still unhacked. There is essentially no method to play copied games on the console.

    To be honest, I find this quite amazing, given the length of time it has been available for.

  3. Filippo Silver badge

    Re: Sony in contrast...

    Agree. The PS3 seems to be locked down pretty tight, or maybe noone bothers developing a modchip because almost noone has BR burners yet... good for Sony, anyway.

  4. mafro

    Console Banned

    This happened to one of my mates.. He reckons he probably managed to play a copied version of Forza before the release date - doh.

    Banning users is never going to be an effective course of action - they'll just go buy another Xbox and mod that one too. Unless M$ think a banned user would go out and spend hundreds of pounds on all the games they previously had for free?

    And then you could always keep your banned Xbox for copied games, and have a legit Xbox to play MW2 on Live.. Very few games are actually worth playing on Live - CoD being one of the games that is ONLY worth playing on Live.

    And such a small proportion of users actually do the modding that the industry as a whole doesn't lose any significant amount of revenue on sales.

  5. MarkOne

    No PS3 bans

    Because there are no hacks for the PS3, therefore no freeloaders.

    It's why many games studios are now turning to PS3 for development focus.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    So what happens to those who need to play their backup copies as the originals were lost in some accident?!?!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut offs

    "It’s unclear if the confirmed cut-offs were made during the last few days or spread across the seven years that Xbox Live has been in existence"

    If they warned peoples only November last year obviously they couldn't cut anybody before that date.

  8. Arnold Lieberman
    Gates Horns

    XBMC for Xbox 360

    If only... then there'd be a good use for banned Xboxen.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PS3 Not Hacked?

    Could this be because Sony let PS3 users install their PS Network games on up to 4 different PS3s

    Don't know if MS Xbox Live stuff is the same?

    PS3 - UR SECURITY IS 100%

  10. Scott Mckenzie


    I think you'll find it has been hacked, the main issue at the moment centres around the cost effective nature of doing so.

    You'll need to download and store a Blu Ray sized file, so say around 30Gb - not speedy on many internet connections, you'll then need a Blu Ray burner - also not currently cheap and finally the media to burn onto - again, not cheap and really irritating when the burner fucks up as often happens.

    That said, hacks do already exist... but the dedicated need only apply!

  11. Jimmy Floyd

    Thin end?

    While it's hard to slate Microsoft for this, I wonder how long it will be before they claim that the Xbox itself (or, at least, maybe the underlying "O/S") isn't bought, it's merely licensed, and may therefore also be shut off?

    Linux, because ... well, I can buy a Linux phone. Now for a Linux games console! :-)

  12. Anonymous Coward

    they aren't modders

    Nothing bad happens if you put your xbox in a fancy case with flames down the side. Those banned are pirates, with chipped consoles. They aren't the same thing.

  13. Richard Gadsden

    PS3 Modders?

    As far as I know, there's no modchip for the PS3, so there aren't any modders for Sony to kick off.

  14. Kotonoha


    No one wants to download 50 GB.

  15. Rob Beard
    Gates Halo

    PS3 mods?

    Do El Reg Hardware know something the rest of us don't?

    I was under the impression the PS3 hadn't been modified (yet).

    This is slightly old news though, it's been going around the games sites for the past few days with some people saying it was to do with some players going on XBOX Live with some games that haven't been released yet. Who knows?

    It supposedly doesn't just ban the console from XBOX Live, it also does other stuff such as corrupting profiles and stops transferring games to the hard drive.

    Personally I don't think it's worth the hassle modding the console.


  16. Anonymous Coward

    Lack of Hacks ...


    perhaps that if anything else shows how little impact the PS3 has made, that nobody is taking the time and effort to hack it .... :D

  17. Gary Holcombe
    Thumb Up


    I'm glad they are taking a stand to be honest, if you copy or download games while the rest of us purchase them then they deserve to get banned!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Don't be a freeloading bastard and mod your machine so you can play illegal games. Simple.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hardly surprising.... @GottaBeKidding

    Not that surprising really, who'd buy a PS3 anyway? :o) The only game worth getting IMHO (Gran Turismo 5) hasn't even been released yet!

    Not heard of that many getting blue-ray players either but ya never know really. Guess the recession has maybe cooled things off a bit???

  20. Dibbles


    Any word on how these 'modded' boxes are detected? Or is it just those who've been accused by other people on XBL have been booted?

  21. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    What with this and jailbroken iPhones having their data hoovered up, it's been a bad week for the "l33t haxors." Unlucky.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Why is it called an xbox 360?

    Because when you see one you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away.

  23. Michael Brown
    Jobs Halo

    Evil Empire

    Shame on the Evil Empire for cracking down on those who dare to crack / unlock / jailbreak or otherwise modify the consumer electronics gadget that they OWN and paid good money for in order to use them how they please....

    Oh no wait a minute, this isn't an Apple product so it's perfectly OK, my mistake.

  24. Ed Blackshaw

    @AC 360 degrees

    You are aware that 360 degrees is a full circle, and if you turn through a full circle, you end up facing in the same direction that you started? Just thought I might point that out...

    I thought it was called '360' after the number of degrees in the 'red ring of death' anyway...

  25. Shirtbuttons


    Turning 360 means you're facing where you began from and so ony refreshing your view of the Xbox.

    Sorry to be pedantic....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    hmmmm, sorry but........

    "Shame on the Evil Empire for cracking down on those who dare to crack / unlock / jailbreak or otherwise modify the consumer electronics gadget that they OWN and paid good money for in order to use them how they please...."

    Errrr, MS arent stopping you chipping the console - they are stopping you connecting to an (optional) subscription service with equipment altered from the factory spec. This is no different from Sky killing off boxes using cloned cards (fair enough) or linking a box to a specific card (twats!)

    Thats like saying "Why cant I walk on this plane with a gun? - I paid for my ticket!"

  27. dazzyp

    timing of the ban = sales tactic?

    It was interesting that one of my colleagues was grumbling that he and three of his mates had their modded 360's banned yesterday. They have all gone out and bought replacement units just to play COD:MW2.

    This scheme sounds like a great plan for MS to (artificially) boost their console sales figures and market share just before xmas, and to help dilute the % number of units that they wrote off due to RROD faults.

  28. SonofRojBlake


    By Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 11th November 2009 16:46 GMT

    >>Why is it called an xbox 360?

    >>Because when you see one you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away.

    Er.... if you turn 360 degrees you'll be facing the same way you were to begin with, dumbass.

  29. brimful

    @ Evil Empire 16:54

    The difference between apple and microsoft is that when you jail break apple iphone, you're doing it to load apps which aren't authorised by apple and so apple doesn't get the revenue from the sale of the app on Itunes. hence you're not free to develop an app for iphone and load it without paying apple a r(L)oyalty fee. Microsoft on the other hand don't want you to play copied games which is their source of revenue. Very few - if any - people mod their xbox to play a homebrew game as is evidenced by the release of the XNA SDK. This means that Microsoft are perfectly happy in users developing their own games and playing them without getting authorisation from Microsoft to do so. That is why Apple blows goats in this situation.

    The actus reus in the 2 scenarios might be similar but the mens rea are completely different.

  30. David Hicks
    Gates Halo

    @AC with the lost games

    If you've lost them you're out of luck.

    Microsoft does have a free replacement policy for some (not all, mostly MS titles) discs if they become scratched/cracked or otherwise unusable.

  31. Tzael

    Don't have an XBOX but...

    Considering the most prevalent hack for the XBOX appears to be the optical drive firmware modification it shouldn't be a daunting task for the XBOX Live developers to check for the existence of an unauthorised firmware image and flag the relevant XBOX Live account appropriately.

    If that's the method of detection then the solution is easy, restore the original firmware for the optical drive and bin the copied games. Unless of course the XBOX owner decides they don't want to use the Live service anymore.

    Maybe there are mods for the XBOX that are more invasive than the firmware change, physical mods are going to be difficult to undo. If I owned an XBOX I'd definitely opt for the reversible modification.

  32. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "Because when you see one you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away."

    The problem then being that you will bump into said box.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ Why is it called an xbox 360?

    Props for having eyes in the back of your head.

  34. pisquee

    RE: Why is it called an xbox 360?

    If you turn through 360 degrees, you will be facing in the same direction that you were to start with (all other things being equal)

  35. Martin Marv

    Re:Why is it called an xbox 360

    Um, yeah - if you turn 360 degrees, you end up facing in the same direction you started in....

  36. bolccg

    Why are you called a moron?

    "Why is it called an XBOX 360" AC: If you turn through 360 degrees then you are back where you started, facing the console. You 'tard.

  37. Lawrence 7

    @Why is it called an xbox 360?


    Worst joke ever, Well done son.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Most gamers are honest.

    The reason that the PS3 hasn't been modified is, I would wager, that there is no need to modify it.

    The primary function of modchips is, in general, not to play pirated games, that's simply a side-effect. The primary function of a modchip is to disable the region protection on the console to allow for legally purchased import games to play, and since all PS3 titles are region-free, there is no need to develop a modchip for it.

  39. petrolhead

    Title goes here

    Its called the XBOX 360 because when you see it you'll turn 360 degrees and moonwalk away.


  40. Anonymous Coward


    @Ed Blackshaw, Shirtbuttons, and SonofRojBlake

    You guys just got trolled.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Nobody mods their Xbox to play homebrew because the mods don't allow the execution of unsigned code, or even the running of games from other regions.

    It's ultimately self-defeating anyway - banning the consoles doesn't stop the dodgy games from being run, just prevents access to the Xbox live service (which is optional for online play) and prevents anyone from potentially purchasing Xbox live market place content, or renewing any gold subscription they might otherwise of paid for.

    Now, you might argue that people who pirate are unlikely to purchase extra DLC, overpriced avatar shite, themes or XBLA stuff, but by banning consoles you're changing that from "unlikely" to "definitely won't", and they'll continue to play pirated games anyway.

  42. Ed 17

    Good for Microsoft

    It's about damn time. It's a shame that none of the money being spent on new "clean" 360s will go to the developers whose products were stolen by the modders. If the 600,000 user figure is correct, that's a huge chunk of lost revenue even if each user only stole one game.

  43. Michael Brown


    > hence you're not free to develop an app for iphone and load it without paying apple a r(L)oyalty fee

    This is a commonly held myth. If you want to develop an app to install on your iPhone then you are perfectly able to do so without paying Apple a penny. The little publicised "ad-hoc" distribution model for iPhone applications also allows the development and deployment of corporate in-house apps that can be deployed to a group of employees without having to pay any royalties to Apple or go through the App Store.

    @AC 17:19: you missed the irony ;-)

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good way to get free parts for M$

    @ Why is it called an xbox 360?

    Trolling is a art, I tip my hat to you my friend.

    On topic: Apparently there may be some legit players banned, and it can take a month+ to get them to even look into you console, and before then you get berated and hung up on by CSRs. Although they've had to deal with 599 999 "false" bans for every wrongful bans. Nothing worse than dealing with screaming 13 year olds wanting to play their illegal games (and yes, it is illegal, I'm a pirate and I admit it, but I will not buy and mod a console that could cause them to ban me, DS flash carts all the way). I say, they send out free shipping boxes to people who complain, fix the wrongful bannings, and keep the rest and use them for RROD repairs.

  45. A J Stiles

    @ Jimmy Floyd

    That's called "criminal damage", and would be a matter for the police if Microsoft tried it on.

  46. Andus McCoatover

    Windows Genuine Advantage, anyone?

    Never turned up any false positives. Ever. Honest, true as I'm (not sexually) riding this bike.

    Having spent ½ an hour on the phone trying - in vain - to get my legal, reloaded XP key working with Mustafa Dump - in Delhi, he cheerfully admitted, although it was a UK number - God knows what luck the little cherubs in their teddy-wallpapered bedrooms will have when Xbox sends out a false positive.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You have to love the press coverage on this (mainly excluding the reg). It's pitched at exactly the same level as when MS lost all the sidekick data, like it's a terrible thing for Microsoft to do.

    The basics of this is, Xbox live is a microsoft service, you sign a service agreement, one of which is that you won't modify the console. If they wanted to put in the agreement that you would put a huge microsoft sticker on the front of your house before signing in they could. That's it.

    It's not illegal to withdraw access to a service for breaking the service agreement, the xbox console is still perfectly fine, it will still play regular paid for games, and in fact still play pirated games offline.

    Summary, break the rules, be prepared to deal with it and not cry about how you're no longer able to pirate games and play online.....

    Also, the BBC Newsbeat article interviewing someone bemoaning Microsoft for banning him and ruining his life etc. But if that bloke was the games developer who's job was under threat from the propsed $750m of revenue, he'd accept paying for the game.

  48. Daniel B.

    corrupting savegames

    According to some sources, MS isn't just banning the modded xboxen from Live. They're trashing all functionality, the media live center *and* corrupting *every* *single* savegame you've got. That would be the equivalent of WGA overwriting all your files because you have a "non-original" Windows. I'm pretty sure that's highly illegal, and I'd expect MS to get slammed by lawsuits for this.

    Oh well, good thing I bought a PS3. ;)

    BTW, the "turn 360 degrees" was awesome. Has anybody here seen Last Action Hero?

  49. Drefsab

    @ Scott Mckenzie

    Id love to see just how you could do what you talk about, as Im a geek and I love reading up on this and apart from a very very basic disk swap method that soon got patched there's never been a working publicised way to boot backup's on the ps3 (at any cost).

    Tbh if there was a way even if it cost more than the orginals id probably do it for the shear sake of doing something interesting with what is essentially a paperweight (not one of the games I wanted when I first got the ps3 nearly 2 years ago has been released yet).

  50. GrantB


    Please, for every 1 person that installs a modchip so that they can play an out-of-region game, 99 will be installing them to be able to play free/cheap copies of games.

    Can't feel too worried that they being booted off Live. MS have always been clear that you pay to play. So wannabe pirates will have to have two xboxen or a switch to offline 'steal' mode and 'online/live mode'.

    Only issue will be if MS boot people who have done nothing wrong other than replacing the HDD drive with something larger. That would bite given the cost/size of the official units.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    jeez... u people r retrtd..

    OK I'll give a hint..

    Paris: "Because when you see one you'll turn 360 degrees and walk away."

  52. john 54
    Gates Horns


    I've owned my XBOX 360 for 7 months and it was modded the day I bought it.

    Banned on Sunday using IXtreme firmware 1.51

    I would wager that more than 15% of Live users in Australia have been banned - 3% worldwide sounds a conservative estimate.

    Fortunately you can still play games with a banned box, just not online.

    I know for a fact that the ban followed the latest XBOX live Experience update which was installed on Saturday

  53. This post has been deleted by its author

  54. Sir Runcible Spoon


    "the meme has gone out of style"

    and anyway, it's called a 360 because that's how many days it takes to get a RROD*

    *on average.

    i.e. you get it for Christmas, and just before Xmas next year it will fry :) Well, mine did.

  55. MrM

    My Opinion

    Surely you could just create a new Gamertag and Live ID and start again?

    I would think the most dissapointing thing for a lot of those banned is effectively losing their Gamerscore!

  56. tiggertaebo
    Gates Halo

    Seems like a reasonable response from Microsoft

    They are quite within their rights to ban the freetards from Live (its in the ToS black and white), they arent bricking the console and from what I've heard they don't even ban the Live account itself. The user owns the 360 and as such they can change it and do stuff to it - but they don't own Live and access to Live is not a right that comes with having the 360.

    As regards the sales tactic commens than yes they obviously want you to buy a new 360 but they arent putting a gun to your head on that one. If not a single one of the banned users bought another 360 I seriously doubt they would lose alot of sleep over it. You've already bought the 360 orignally and since you are pirating chances are you aren't buying alot of games so they lose out on what £40 a year for your Live? Big deal!

    With timing it with the release of MW2 it not only ensures high levels of media coverage of the ban to remind people of the possible consequences of modding their console it also helps that the people frantic to play MW2 might just go out and buy another 360, also it means that people who want it but are tempted to save the £50 and pirate the game might just buy it instead so the publisher wins too.

    I'm genuinely shocked at the way some of the media is painting Microsoft as the bad guys here (yes Radio1 I'm looking at you), some days I swear if MS went round capturing serial killers there would be some hack interviewing the killers about how their rights had been violated and why shouldnt they be free to go round killing people.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Xbox bannings

    I thought that they could not detect the firmware itself but the fact that people play pre-release games. You have to be totally retarded to do that if you are on Live.

    The PS3 has not been hacked yet because nobody has found a way of doing it, not through lack of trying. Now that the new slim ps3 is coming out (out already?) you can't run Other OS any more so why ain't it been hacked yet then?

    The only way I could see is if someone decrypted the firmware modified it so that it can play ISOs from disk, then find an exploit in the PS3 firmware to flash the firmware.

    And to the people who say it's because of the BD-ROM, what would stop people burning a ISO loader to a disc then using that like for the PS2 and just buy a huge hard drive or two. Also you can download any file from the internet on the PS3 and execute it, unless it's signed by sony it will not run. Anyone want to exploit that?

  58. Scott Millar
    Thumb Down


    So how many xbox's does this effect? The chipped boxes will have to be replaced with another xbox. This is not such a green move. I'm putting in a complaint to Bill.

  59. dracotrapnet

    Net neutrality

    This smacks like net neutrality. No tribunal, no judge, no jury, no appeals.. Just blatant enforcement, yay.

  60. Yorkshirepudding

    haha owned

    regardless of the tit for tat fanboi arguments that will ensue from this i find it utterly funny and if any of these people buy another 360 then its even more funnier. its hard to see if this will force the l33t haxxors onto other consoles its certainly possible.

  61. A 31
    Thumb Up

    Net neutrality

    "This smacks like net neutrality. No tribunal, no judge, no jury, no appeals.. Just blatant enforcement, yay."

    Only one person mentionned that .. funny really

    fanboys to blinded to argue about their toys

    Society is falling asleep here :)

    as for the 360 joke, it highlights the point, consoles really don't help your brain.With a bit of hope the 360 banned gamer will start visiting libraries ? :D

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