Microsoft's official GamerScoreBlog has confirmed that the company has begun a new policy of banning modified Xbox 360 consoles from Xbox Live, with many customers reporting an error message when trying to connect their modified machine to Xbox Live.
Although the Xbox 360 hardware is technically region free, most publishers still region lock their software – with many console owners, particularly in Europe, electing to modify their machines to play games from any country. Some consoles will also have been modified to play pirated software or other homemade software.
A Microsoft employee posting under the name BIGVIP (apparently Xbox Group Product Marketing Manager Aaron Greenberg) has posted a short statement
on the company’s website GamerScoreBlog, which indicates that the primary reason for the new policy is to prevent cheating and hacking on Xbox Live.
“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,” reads the post. “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.”
The post continues, “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.”
Users blocked from Xbox Live will not have their accounts automatically banned, which is likely to mollify some user complaints. Although the move is unlikely to deter the hardcore modding community, complaints of cheating on Xbox Live have recently been on the rise.