Although it’s certainly not a mainstream activity, the market for modifying Xbox 360 consoles is healthy and growing. Some players modify their consoles to essentially cheat at games and unlock features and capabilities without having to arduously play their way through dozens (or hundreds) of lead-up scenarios. And, of course, other people modify their Xbox consoles to pirate games or play pirated games—actions that are patently illegal in most markets, but nonetheless supports a healthy underground economy. Some gaming an electronics shop will openly modify Xbox consoles to play pirated games, typically for about $100.
Now Microsoft is apparently starting to drop the hammer on players with modified Xbox console, announcing that it is cutting off access to its Xbox Live online gaming service to players running modified Xbox gaming systems. The company has not provided any specifics for the number of players who may be impacted, but industry reports estimate from 600,000 to 1 million players may now be barred from Xbox Live. The service boasts over 20 million members worldwide.
Microsoft is not disabling modified consoles; the systems still operate normally when not using the Xbox Live service. According to industry sources, Microsoft is blocking access on a console-by-console basis. Microsoft has not detailed how it is detecting modified consoles; some users who claim to have modified consoles still say they can get through to Xbox Live, while some members who say they haven’t modified their consoles claim to be banned.
The move comes just after the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2; pirated versions of the game were circulating even prior to the title’s official release.