Initially, the estimates pegged the number of banned
users at 600,000. Now CNET is reporting that over
1 million players have been banned from the service. That's
a pretty incredible number as Xbox Live only has 20 million
subscribers. That means that approximately 1 in 20 players has
been banned, or roughly 5 percent of the service's total
The ban coincided with the release
of Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on Tuesday, and
many are speculating that the rampant piracy of the game before its
release triggered Activision to demand action from Microsoft.
Pirated copies were widely floating around torrents sites over the
weekend, and players with modified consoles may have taken it out for
a spin ahead of release.
Xbox Live Director of Programming
Larry Hryb, aka Major Nelson has stated, "Players who find their
Gamertags banned from Xbox Live have wound up in that situation due
monitors players for not just cheating, but also for things like
threats, racism, profanity, and just being an all around poor sport
and ruining the game for others."
He continues, "When
a Gamertag comes up as violating our policies for online behavior,
the person who owns that Gamertag is punished by being banned from
the service. Keep in mind, this isn't just a ban on a particular
game. This is a ban on the Xbox Live service as a whole, so you won't
be able to go online at all during your ban. Initially, you may be
banned for a day, a week, or depending on severity, permanently! Kiss
that $50 goodbye."
The ban revokes the consoles' crypto keys, making information saved by them unreadable on other Xboxes. The ban also limits the console's functionality, via blocking HD installation and the use of a media extender. For those banned, they do have the
option of buying a new console, but that's a rather pricey option. Users who do move to another Xbox should be able to get back on Xbox Live as Microsoft hasn't yet banned Gamertags -- just placed the ban on individual consoles. When it gets down to it, it appears that
as Major Nelson pointed out, over 1 million Xbox users are out a bit
of money and enjoyment because Microsoft decided to crack down hard
on console modding.
The crackdown is not without precedent.
Apple in 2007 bricked
thousands of unlocked iPhones, which it claimed were illegally
modified and violated its EULA. Microsoft also reportedly will
third party storage in its latest update for the Xbox 360,
forcing users to buys its more expensive memory sticks.