Are you one of those people that prefer not to pay for their games? Or perhaps even have a fully legitimate reason to mod their 360 into playing backups? Better not log on to Xbox Live then, since Microsoft has now officially started banning 360s that have had their DVD drive firmware modified from Live, apparently using information brought in by the Crackdown Halo 3 beta downloads.
As already stated over a year ago in our exclusive interview with the original inventors of the firmware hack, the firmware hack is fundamentally flawed in that it will always be detectable unless either the Xbox 360 kernel or the game code signing are thoroughly hacked. It would appear that the recently released Spring Update and the Crackdown title update or the Halo 3 beta code itself cooperate to determine that the firmware has been modified.
Microsoft’s official statement on the Gamerscore Blog reads:
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. 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.
The forums over at ’scene site’ Xbox-Scene have apparently collapsed under traffic, but according to our reports they had topics from tons of users getting banned, indiscriminate of their type of drive or the firmware modification used. They also hint that the detection mechanism might have nothing to do with the Halo 3 Beta, although it’s almost too coincidental:
With the amount of posts we see on our forums … it’s clear, Microsoft decided to start banning Xbox360 with modified firmwares today.
While it’s the same release date as Halo3 beta, it seems that people who didn’t download Halo3 also get banned. They probably detect backup discs (and not the modified firmware) when you play ‘em online (not confirmed yet).
Even people using the new firmwares with disc-jitter added get banned, so it looks like Microsoft found another way to detect it.
Just like on Xbox1 it seems Microsoft bans the console unique ID, not the LIVE user.
So, as Robinsod promised over a year ago the cat and mouse game has officially commenced now. Will the hackers find ways to outsmart Microsoft’s detection logic? First question is whether Microsoft’s detection logic is precise enough… reports on the official Xbox.com forums also suggest that legitimate users are getting their consoles banned, but for the time being we’re assuming we’d also say that if we were in this situation with a $400 door stop. We’ll definitely keep you updated as the story progresses.