Microsoft has announced that it is to cut off access to Xbox Live online services to players running modded Xbox consoles. This move could affect anywhere between 600,000 and 1 million players.
In a statement Microsoft said:
Modding is popular amongst gamers since it offers them the ability to do a great many things otherwise prohibited, from cheating at games, creating and using new maps and features, adding larger hard drives, and, unfortunately, pirate games. Yet despite being pretty much illegal in both the US and Europe, modding is also big business, with easy to install kits being readily available.
Microsoft hasn't disclosed how it detects modded consoles, but according to reports that I'm getting, even having a non-standard hard drive fitted is enough to get the console banned from Xbox Live. And once a console is added to a ban list, it's forever banished (I've heard from people who robustly claim to have been incorrectly banned by whatever system is in place who can't get that ban overturned).
Note: The console continues to work as normal after a ban, it's just that it cannot access or use any Xbox Live services or features.
Other gamers I've spoken to claim to have modded consoles that Microsoft is unable to detect and ban. At present I can't confirm or deny whether this is at all possible, though I would say that if you value Xbox Live membership that you don't mod your console.
Any readers affected by this?