Console maker Microsoft claims bans are necessary to keep the gameplay fair, but should it ban gamers for the mistake of programmers?
You modified your Xbox 360 console? Chances are you've been banned. And to add to your dismay, your console's hard drive has been bricked, your console now corrupts saves, and you lost the privilege to use your media extender. Tough luck, buy a new console says Microsoft.
But what if you just were playing a game you'd just purchased -- legally -- on your unmodified Xbox 360 and you were slapped with a ban for a programmer's mistake? That's the exact scenario facing scores of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 gamers.
While exact numbers are unclear, Microsoft has another brewing storm on its hands after launching the latest round in its ongoing banfest.
The mess began when players discovered the so-called "Javelin" exploit. An error in the game allows you to detonate a grenade after you die in online play. To do this you first have to switch back from and to the javelin weapon, hence the name. Those who get close will be killed, upping the player's kill count.
Stephen Toulouse is the Director of Policy and Enforcement of Xbox Live has begun issuing 24 hour bans from Xbox Live to those who use the glitch. He writes on his Twitter, "While [Infinity Ward] works on getting the MW2 glitch fixed, people we catch using it will recieve suspensions from LIVE. Play fair everyone."
Microsoft's Xbox Live Director, Larry Hryb (who goes by "Major Nelson" online), explains the banning process writing, "Keep in mind, this isn't just a ban on a particular game. This is a ban on the Xbox Live service as a whole, so you won't be able to go online at all during your ban. Initially, you may be banned for a day, a week, or depending on severity, permanently! Kiss that $50 goodbye."
Players are disgruntled about the bans to say the least. After all, finding, and using glitches is a tried and true gaming tradition. And Microsoft isn't just banning the glitchers from COD:MW2, it's banning them from all Xbox Live, including other games and updates. Those banned are crying foul -- after all, they didn't use a cheating device, mod their console, pirate the game, or do any other of the typical laundry list of offenses.
Mr. Toulouse offers no sympathy. He likens glitching the game to car theft. He explains this perspective, stating, 'Wow, some of you think cheating a glitch is OK. Um. If I install my car stereo wrong and it disables my door locks, its not ok to STEAL MY CAR."
Sony, which also has COD:MW2 on it has said it will not be banning players who use the glitch on its servers. Infinity Ward is reportedly working on a patch to fix the problem. In the meantime, Xbox 360 gamers better be careful they're not stepping outside the tight box of rules that govern its closed system.
A video of the glitch in action can be found here.