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X360 dev kits stolen in Germany

Piracy fears surface.

Platform holder Microsoft may face a new piracy threat, as reports surface of ten Xbox 360 development kits being stolen from a warehouse in Duren, Germany, with the hardware believed to have fallen into the hands of hackers.

According to an article on Spiegel Online, the shipment of ten dev kits was delivered to a warehouse in Germany in unmarked packaging. The kits were supposed to be distributed onwards to developers in order to create games for the new console platform.

A few days after the shipment went 'missing', photographs of the kits appeared on the Internet, with the serial numbers edited out. Police raids in Austria and Germany recovered three of the units, but seven kits remain untraced at present as the investigation continues.

Microsoft's original Xbox console was plagued by piracy and modification, including the installation of mod chips which bypassed DVD region encoding and copyright protection measures. Pirated software and modified games which gave players an unfair advantage in Xbox Live matches have also been prolific on the Xbox.

In a recent interview with Gamespot.com, Microsoft's chief executive J Allard suggested that piracy on the new console was a given, which the company has already accounted for.

"The philosophy that we applied on 360 is 'It's going to happen'," he said.

Allard also hinted that the inevitable bypass of security measures was less important to Microsoft from a financial perspective, but significant in its potential to ruin the online multiplayer experience for genuine customers.

The improved community gaming and media functionality of Xbox Live is a key strength of the new console, which Microsoft is hoping will attract a wider audience of casual gamers when the new console launches in Europe on December 2nd, 2005.