Microsoft’s ban on modded consoles
It’s slapped wrists all round for Xbox users who tinkered with their consoles. This week, the company cracked down and banned up to 1 million players from its online gaming platform Xbox Live because they had modded the consoles – possibly by fitting mod chips.
According to the BBC, the ban is permanent. If you want to get back on Xbox Live, you have to buy a new console.
The reaction has ranged from indifference to outrage. The indifferent claim you know what you’re doing when you crack open the console. The outraged believe you should be able to do what you like with your property.
But what exactly do mod chips do to the console?
On the positive side, they allow you to do more with your Xbox. You can run Linux on it, put in a bigger hard drive if you choose, or use it as a DVD/video player. You can run home-grown software
However, it also allows users to run copies of games. While copies can have a legitimate use – back ups of games you’d rather not get destroyed, for example – modded consoles could, in theory, run pirated games. And it can also give you an advantage when playing some online games.
So, unsurprisingly, Microsoft doesn’t like them.
But is banning users from Xbox Live a step too far? It is, after all, a private network, owned by Microsoft. It has the right to set down terms and conditions for using that network, and the sanctions should you break them. However, the online elements of many titles are becoming increasingly important to gameplay.
Modifying the console to take a bigger hard drive or run Linux don’t come under the headings of piracy. Not every modded console was altered with copyright infringement in mind. If you bought a PC, you could add and remove hardware as you saw fit. While games consoles might not be PCs , they have many of the same functions and the line is becoming in creasingly blurred as more functions – such as social networking – are added.