Inspire U: The Podcast

As many as 600,000 Xbox 360s were banned from the Xbox Live service this week in the latest in a series of crackdowns by Microsoft on illegally modified consoles.

The banned machines — a “small percentage” of the millions of Xbox 360s around the world — are alleged to have been modified in ways that violate Xbox Live’s terms of service, but Microsoft won’t say exactly how they can tell, nor exactly how many users were affected. Banned consoles can still play games, but can’t connect to the Xbox Live service for multiplayer gaming, content downloads or software updates.

“All consumers should know that piracy is illegal, and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs, violates the Xbox LIVE terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live,” Microsoft said in a statement today.

The bans were apparently timed to coincide with yesterday’s release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, expected to be by far the biggest gaming event of the year. One affected Call of Duty fan, a self-confessed software pirate called “Raz,” told the BBC about his disappointment.

Owners of modded 360s will no longer be allowed to play online.

“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…I sign in online and next thing I see, ‘Your console has been banned from Xbox’…now I don’t know what to do,” he told the BBC’s Newsbeat.

Most law-abiding gamers will have little sympathy for Raz — but at least one banned Xbox owner claims to have been targeted by accident, and that Microsoft won’t listen to his excuses.

“My console and my fiance’s console were caught up in the Mass Banning going on by Microsoft in their latest Pirate Witch Hunt. My fiance is a chef, and plays games like Viva Pinata, Arcade Games, and can’t figure out how to remove the battery pack, much less tear apart her system to ‘mod’ anything,” he told The Consumerist.

He’s had little luck with Microsoft’s customer service, either. “At one point a man who called himself ‘Charles’ told me that it was my problem and I should learn to follow the rules, then hung up on me,” he said.

according to

Also On AM 1310: The Light: