Xbox 360 modding- should you be banned from Live?

xboxcontrollerAs you may know, Microsoft banned between six hundred thousand and one million Xbox 360s. Microsoft claims “All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and modifying their Xbox 360 console violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live.” (from AFP).  Users with modded banned Xboxes are claiming they should be allowed to mod their Xboxes because not everyone is using them to play pirated games.  Other users feel that the bans came conveniently after the two major releases:  Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3: ODST, which were after boosts in the number of subscriptions. There is even a website dedicated to a class action investigation.

Before I give an opinion, I’d like to look at what can be done with a modded Xbox.  The mod will give control over the DVD player, which allows you to reduce the speed of the drive and bypass checks that makes sure a game is legit.  As far as I can tell, you can play pirated games, back ups, and slow the drive down so the device is quieter.   I’ve also seen reports that it allows you to replace the hard drives with normal hard drives, but they are still limited to the 20 GB and 120 GB constraints.  An original modded Xbox made an older generation machine into a media center powerhouse.  This mod for the 360 looks to be for one thing:  piracy.

So… Should mod users be banned?  Yes, for three reasons:

It promotes piracy. Piracy is illegal, and for someone in my line of work, it’s also unethical and is completely against my principles.  I am a developer, and the thought of someone copying and distributing my work for free without my permission turns my stomach.  I guess it can be argued some pirated software is less crippled than the legit software (I hate it when the software constantly “phones-home” to make sure I’m legit) but it is simply not the case in this situation.

Allowing modded software can lead to exploits for multiplayer games. I see nothing wrong– especially on a console — to disallow the user from installing non-approved applications on the console.  It makes security much easier to maintain, and it gives all users a consistent experience when playing online.Apple closely monitors the app store.  They require approval before accepting any app into the store so they can make sure there aren’t any virus-type apps being uploaded.  In fact, the most recent exploit of the iPhone had to do with those iPhones which are jail-broken.

Xbox 360 is not open source. Microsoft never invited you to hack and mod their system.  In fact, doing so voids the warranty.  They have decided to do this, and as a purchaser of their product, you’ve made the decision to comply.

I’m sure there are a lot of opinions about this.  Let me know what you think!