Commentary: Xbox 360 mod ban taking a toll on gamers

Michael Escañuelas, Editorial Cartoonist
Michael Escañuelas, Editorial Cartoonist

The season of giving is upon us. Of course, that would imply that many video game-related gifts will be the highlight of most college students’ holiday.

But not all gifts are full of jolly cheer this holiday season. Over the past month, Microsoft has been giving the gift unforgivable punishment by banning over 1 million Xbox live members from using the service. The reason for this mass ban is to crack down on modded Xbox 360 systems.

Since the beginning of video game time when Microsoft DOS was being run by dinosaurs, there have always been modifications that alter the way we obtain and play games.

A modded Xbox 360 is when someone tampers with an Xbox 360 system, this involves a modification of the inside drivers, bypassing the security system of the hardware.

This allows an Xbox 360 system to play games that are burned from a computer, giving gamers the ability to essentially play any Xbox 360 game for free.

For the sake of my own security, I’m not going to admit that I have partaken in any kind of a modification process on my own system, but I will admit that I’m very, very familiar with the idea and I have several friends who have encountered this process with great interest.

As of writing this article, I have not yet received Microsoft’s gift of banning my system, but I do have friends who have felt the strong slap in face when they turn on their system only to find a message that says, their system does not conform to Xbox Live’s requirements, therefore it is banned.

Typically on an issue like this, it’s a very open and shut case with no real room for argument. When someone mods their system they should understand that they are doing something illegal and know the consequences.

They are basically stealing from all those game developers who create amazing games, and those who create really terrible games.

I don’t feel that bad for the latter group. When I received word that Microsoft was going Nazi Germany on modded Xboxes, at first I was angry. Why of all times would they do this right during the launch of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2?”

Then it occurred to me, Microsoft is not the villain, I am! (Or my friends are. I’m trying to complicate this to protect myself).

It seems that any system can be modded now-a-days. The Nintendo DS, The PSP, the Wii, my computer, my wiener dogs, the ice cream truck, the list is endless.

These modifications are a small minority, but if we’ve learned anything from the downfall of PC gaming is that torrents and hacks can bring down a market drastically.

I guess as I sit in my room playing “Left for Dead 2” patiently awaiting the moment the guillotine strikes down on my Xbox 360 system, I’m growing more enlightened over the current economic state of the video game industry.

Maybe the fact that over a million users that have modded systems shows that there is something wrong with our current price system for video games.

Or, maybe it could mean that there are a lot of lazy people out there.

The fact remains, that this problem will probably only get worse before it gets better. Soon, once these mass bannings are over, there will be a new way to hack the system and people will take full advantage of it; it’s a vicious cycle.

I guess this holiday season Santa is going to get me a big bag of guilt and enlightenment. I’ll never steal a game again, or try harder to not get caught, or I don’t even know what I’m talking about. What are mods?

Michael Escañuelas, a junior English major, is editorial cartoonist for the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at

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