Photo via Collin Allen
via Flickr CC
After discovering nearly a million users had modified their consoles to play pirated games via the Xbox live service, Microsoft gave them the boot from the service and now the modified consoles are making their way onto the market by the hundreds, with more likely to follow. The ban works on the console, not the user's account, which means Xbox consoles useless for the Xbox Live service are being sold everywhere from eBay to Craigslist, creating a bit of an e-waste nightmare and some unhappy buyers.
According to BCS, Microsoft put up a warning on its website's guide section telling users to be wary of new Xboxes coming onto the resell market, and to ask the seller if they've been banned from the service, because no matter what (unless of course Microsoft changes its mind), the bans are permanent and none of the consoles will ever be allowed back onto the Xbox Live service regardless of whose account it is being used under.
On the one hand, it is understandable that the company doesn't want to allow hacked consoles onto the gaming service, since that new owner would be equally as capable of accessing pirated games. But on the other hand, they're rendering used gadgets useless to some level. So unless a user is going to only play games on disc or use it as a DVD player - something increasingly less appealing in our get-it-now society - then the devices are going to get dumped.
As one commenter on Boing Boing points out, "I suppose $40 is a great deal for a neutered 360. But the 360's primary selling point is Xbox Live. That's what keeps the customers captive -- the community."
Dave Taylor, publishing director for GamerZines.com points out in an article from MSNBC that Microsoft "needs to do a better job of explaining to people why modding consoles isn't acceptable, and needs to find a way to help people tricked into purchasing blacklisted consoles," or else risk the nearly 1% of their consumer base that is made up of modders, as well as second-hand consumers.
As MAKE pleads to Microsoft: "I know that a lot of Microsoft folks read MAKE so please Microsoft folks, figure out something else besides permanently crippling millions of devices. Sure they can be used to play offline, but I doubt the owners will keep them, so it's one stop to trashville. They'll end up in a landfill, at least offer a way to re-active them or something, anything."
We agree, and we're glad other blogs are equally as worried about the e-waste wave this could cause. Millions...that's a lot of otherwise usable gadgets being wasted. Maybe Microsoft is spending too much time on energy dashboard development in a market where - let's be honest, they aren't going to reign supreme - to be concerned with minimizing their e-waste impact. C'mon Microsoft, there's gotta be a better way - fix it?