Microsoft Bans Thousands of Pirated Xbox 360s from Xbox Live

Dennis Faas's picture

In an attempt to curb the rising number of pirated or 'modded' Xbox 360s, Microsoft has unleashed a torrent of attacks upon these hacked systems. According to reports, in the last little while the software company has banned an astounding 600,000 Xbox 360 users from its Xbox Live online gaming community.

Modding involves customizing the Xbox 360, Microsoft's popular video game console. Those who buy the system can, if they know how, change the operating system, hard drive and other components so that a console is capable of running unofficial copies of games. The allure of modding a system is the ability to use file-transfer sites in order to simply download games for free and then run them on the modified Xbox 360. Obviously, that's a big problem for Microsoft, who can't so easily profit off a modded Xbox.

Pursuing Each Xbox Pirate Virtually Impossible

Modding, like using Bit Torrent, occupies a legislative grey area. Although console makers like Microsoft have pushed hard to have modding made an outright crime, critics say that if one buys a system, then they should be able to do with it whatever they please. If that means downloading and using pirated copies of games, well, power to them for discovering such a cheap and convenient outlet for entertainment.

Of course, few in the game industry feel that way. For its part, Microsoft, which can hardly pursue legal action against every owner of a modified Xbox 360, has instead set its sights on Xbox Live, the console's exceptionally popular online service. Here, players can chat with one another, game together, and download all kinds of movies, TV shows, and independent games. However, Microsoft can employ Live to detect who's using a modded Xbox 360 and who isn't, and in order to make gaming this way just a little less attractive it has decided to ban all consoles that violate the company's "terms of use" policy.

600,000 Modded Xboxes Banned

According to BBC News, that has meant a virtual crusade by Microsoft seeing upwards of 600,000 users banned permanently from Xbox Live. (Source:

The result? Modified Xboxes are no longer quite so valuable. In fact, according to PC World, owners of these pirated systems are now flooding Craigslist with FOR SALE signs. Some of these systems, which can sometimes come with literally hundreds of games, are now selling for between $100-$150, far less than the retail value of most legitimate systems. (Source:

Thus far, Microsoft isn't saying how many people have received the terrifying message "Your console has been banned from Xbox." However, it does admit that a campaign to rid the gaming world of pirated Xbox 360s is only targeting those who deserve to be targeted. "We do not reveal specifics, but can say that all consoles have been verified to have violated the terms of use," said a company spokesperson.

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