Microsoft is making a push to detect and ban modified Xbox 360 consoles from its Xbox Live service.
The Spring Update for Xbox Live appears to contain changes which allow Microsoft to detect Xbox 360 systems with hacked firmware, which gives owners the ability to play copied games. Rather than detecting specific changes in the console firmware, however, the update instead appears able to determine the legitimacy of DVD discs in the drive. Efforts to circumvent this detection ability by adding features such as disc jitter to hacked firmware do not appear to be having any effect.
The anti-modding push appears to have begun along with the release of the Halo 3 beta, which is available as a bonus to gamers who purchase its ironically-named Crackdown title. Gamers with pirated versions of Crackdown also have illegitimate access to the Halo 3 beta, a situation Microsoft has a vested interest in minimizing. However, as it did with the original Xbox console, Microsoft is not banning entire user accounts from the Live service, just modified consoles.
On its Gamerscore blog, Microsoft said, "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. We have stated in the past that customers can only enjoy access to the Xbox LIVE community through the use of a genuine, unmodified, Xbox console and we will continue to enforce this rule to ensure the integrity of our service, the protection of our partners and the benefits of our users."