Xbox chips Live on borrowed time

14-page Xbox Live EULA gives MS the right to scan for and block chipped consoles

Microsoft has given itself the right to scan for and block modchipped Xbox consoles from using the Xbox Live online gaming service. According to a 14-page user agreement and privacy notice supplied with beta kits, "Xbox Live may only be accessed with an unmodified, except for Microsoft authorised repairs and upgrades, Xbox video game console. Any attempt to disassemble, decompile, create derivative works of, reverse engineer, modify, further sublicense, distribute or use for other purposes either the hardware or software of this system is strictly prohibited." Furthermore, "Microsoft may retrieve information from the Xbox used to log on to Xbox Live as necessary to operate and protect the security of Xbox Live, and to enforce this Agreement," a clause that Microsoft will use to keep your Xbox up to date with software patches and their ilk, it says, but which leaves the door wide open for broader measures, particularly in line with the above prohibition notice. This is good news for those of you who plan to walk the straight and narrow though, because Microsoft intends to use its rights to protect the network's security and to ensure a cheat-free environment. A definite advantage over the PS2 online service, which seems to be relying on the good nature of cheat-device makers to avoid cheating scenarios. As a Microsoft spokesperson told News.com, "The language in the Xbox Live user agreement leaves the door open in order for us to protect the security of our platform. Our goal is to provide our users with secure, consistent and fair online game play..." "Microsoft reserves the right to take legal action against anyone who tries to modify the Xbox for the purpose violating the intellectual property of our partners or of Microsoft." Bearing in mind that every single Xbox modchip in existence allow the use of illegal software, MS is quite well protected in this. However, it may have difficulty detecting some of the more exotic devices, such as the Lik-Sang-owned PC-BioXX system, which lets you boot the Xbox with a regular bios or a hacked one to avoid such problems. All in all, it's bad news for modchippers, modchipees and illegal software barons, but it's good news for those of us with unadulterated Xbox systems and a desire to play games in a friendly online environment.

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Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

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Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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