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Xbox 360 ban message detailing the user's violation of Microsoft terms of service. (Source: Xbox-Scene)
Microsoft's Xbox 360 now able to sniff out illegitimate copies of games

More than a year has passed since the release of the Xbox 360 DVD-ROM firmware hack to allow the play of backup games and bootleg copies. Those with hacked firmware had the ability to play copied games, mostly burned onto dual-layer DVD recordable discs, even online Xbox Live.

For a while, it seemed that such firmware modifications were undetectable by Microsoft – but that appears to have all changed with the latest Xbox 360 system software released last week.

Word came from the Xbox 360 hacking community that the Spring Update may have the ability to detect those who were playing copied games. More specifically, the system software would be able to determine the legitimacy of the disc in the DVD drive, not necessarily targeting any specific method of modification.

As a pre-emptive measure, hackers released updated disc drive firmware introducing various features, such as disc jitter, in an effort to further the exploit. Such efforts, however, appear to be all for naught, as report on Xbox-Scene indicates that Microsoft is now banning from Xbox Live users with modified DVD-ROM drives, regardless of firmware version.

The banning measures appear to have started alongside the release of the Halo 3 beta, perhaps in what is best described as a crackdown on Crackdown bootlegged copies that contained Halo 3 beta access. Just as it did during the original Xbox days, Microsoft is permanently banning modified consoles from connecting to Xbox Live, but not the user account.

Microsoft acknowledges its new initiative with an entry in its Gamerscore Blog: “As part of our commitment to our members, we do not allow people that we have detected to have modified their console to connect to Live. This is an important part of our efforts to try and maintain a fair gaming environment for the large majority of gamers that play by the rules. This topic is more important than ever given the recent release of the Halo 3 beta.”

The blog continues, “As a result, some consumers that try to login to Live who we detect have illegally modified their console will get an error code (Status Code: Z: 8015 - 190D) when trying to connect to the service. These users will not have their account automatically banned from LIVE, but they will no longer be able to access the service from the console they modified. We have stated in the past that customers can only enjoy access to the Xbox LIVE community through the use of a genuine, unmodified, Xbox console and we will continue to enforce this rule to ensure the integrity of our service, the protection of our partners and the benefits of our users.”

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By BigToque on 5/20/2007 3:33:28 PM , Rating: 4
It isn't illegal to modify your xbox. You own it and can do as you please.

Xbox Live is a service that Microsoft owns. To use their service, you have to agree to their terms of use. In this case, their terms are that you must have an unmodified console.

Truth be told, I think it's a good idea. It is an inconvenience, but blocking out everything that has been modified helps reduce the possibility that some people might have an unfair advantage in some games. (This might be a terrible example and even impossible, but maybe someone modifies the code of their backed up game (a FPS) to enable the use of a keyboard and mouse. That person would probably have a significant advantage over all other players using a gamepad.)

By exdeath on 5/20/07, Rating: -1
By BigToque on 5/20/2007 6:14:38 PM , Rating: 3
Playing a game is like taking test. The whole point is to see who does better given the same set of conditions. Microsoft is making sure that everyone is playing under the same conditions.

Your life isn't a test. You're not in competition with anyone else. You are free to do anything you wish.

By Christopher1 on 5/21/2007 8:30:51 AM , Rating: 2
Excuse me, but everyone is playing under the same conditions whether a console is modified in this way or not. Secondly, if you look on the Microsoft website, they ALREADY have a keyboard/mouse combo for the XBox360, they just don't advertise that very well.

I was surprised when I found it on their website listed, I thought they would want to keep things even between players as well.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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