Microsoft bans certain Xbox consoles by mistake, corrects the issue

Microsoft has made a mistake and is owning up to the issue. In a recent slew of console bans a small number of non-modded, consoles were banned by accident. Microsoft has identified the issue resulting in those bans and is correcting the problem. For those who were incorrectly banned from Xbox Live, Microsoft is offering three free months of the service along with 1600 Microsoft Points ($20) for their trouble.

Microsoft bans certain Xbox consoles by mistake, corrects the issue

Xbox Live Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen Toulouse, identified the issue in a post on MajorNelson.com today. Toulouse detailed that the consoles were banned between August 29 and September 9 of this year. The ban was intended to target modded consoles but apparently some users who made no modifications to their Xbox 360 got caught in the crossfire.

“As I have noted many times on the podcast, the enforcement team exists to help protect the LIVE experience. One of the ways we do that is to prevent consoles from accessing the service that are involved in bad behavior such as cheating, fraud, running unauthorized software on the service, or playing illegitimate copies of games (to name a few). For the vast majority of our actions, our team reviews a lot of data, examines the behavior, and then we take action.  In some cases, very rarely, we use software features on the Xbox itself to help us take action.”

The number of users affected by the ban isn’t detailed in the post but Toulouse does indicate it is a small percentage of users and the cause is a software issue which lead to consoles being incorrectly identified as modded.

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“We’re still conducting our review but the cause appears to be a software issue, not an error on the part of the enforcement team’s normal actions.  It’s very specific and occurred between August 29 and September 9, affecting a very small percentage of users.”

Joystiq contacted Toulouse for information about the software which lead to the bans but he couldn’t go into details only saying, “There are entire internet forums dedicated to parsing every word we say about what the console is doing when it is looking for modifications, so that they can figure out a way around it. We have to be careful about sharing to that level of specificity, because that’s what they’re looking for.”

In that same discussion with Joystiq Toulouse committed to providing some transparency into the banning process in order to rebuild consumer trust. It would be nice to have some insight into how the team goes about banning consoles and what parameters they use to determine if a console has been modified or not. It makes sense that he can’t break down the fine details out of fear of making the situation worse but some detail about the process would be helpful.

If you had a console that was banned without cause you don’t need to do anything to see the issue resolved. Microsoft is currently working to reverse the bans so simply plugging your console in and letting it try to connect to Live in the next few days should work if it was in fact not modified.

As for the free months of Live and the Microsoft Points Toulouse says in his post,

“Within a few business days, we will issue the primary account holder on the impacted console a credit for three months of Xbox LIVE Gold and 1600 Microsoft points.  Since we know exactly who is affected, those customers do not need to take any action.  Everything will be applied automatically. No keys or tokens to redeem, no other action to be taken.”

Did you have a console affected by this ban? I’ve been happily connecting to Xbox Live without issue but if you had a console banned for no reason let us know in the comments.

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