Microsoft is facing a possible class action lawsuit from Xbox 360 users aggrieved at being banned for piracy, alleging that the company intentionally timed its bans to coincide with the release of popular games, and deliberately took advantage of the fact it was not refunding unused subscription time.
Abington Law rubs its hands with glee at the prospect of a profitable class action suit:
As has been reported widely in the media, tens of thousands of Xbox owners have had their modified Xbox consoles banned from Microsoft’s online gaming service Xbox Live.
This “convenient” timing may have resulted in more Xbox Live subscription revenues for Microsoft than it would have generated had these Xbox console bans taken place at some time before the release of Halo 3: ODST and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Additionally, sales of both Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (published by Activision) and Halo 3: ODST (published by Microsoft Game Studios) would likely have been greatly diminished had the Xbox console ban occurred prior to the release of these games.
Additional *reported* problems resulting from the bans include, but are not necessarily limited to:
* Disabling/altering Xbox functionality *NOT* associated with Xbox Live or piracy (HDD functionality for example);
* Disabling/altering Xbox functionality *NOT* associated with piracy (Netflix, game add-ons, music, and arcade games for example);
* Obtaining information from Xbox consoles without permission of the owner;
* Other problems/consequences associated with these bans have been reported here and elsewhere.
As an aside, PIRACY IS A LEGITIMATE CONCERN for Microsoft and other content producers. HOWEVER, (to use a poor analogy) Microsoft has chosen to use one of the most indiscriminate “weapons” in its arsenal in an effort to combat piracy — as a result, use of this “weapon” has resulted in a great deal of collateral damage — many people were affected who had nothing to do with piracy.
Furthermore, Xbox console functions that have nothing to do with piracy were also affected or disabled.
Details aside, Microsoft’s bans could (and should) have been more measured.
Notably, the lawsuit is explicitly on behalf of Xbox Live users who had their “modified Xbox console” banned, meaning that the issue of them violating their usage agreement with Microsoft is not in doubt.
Undoubtedly a self-serving venture for the lawyers concerned, but with millions of dollars tied up in the timing of the bans it is far from ridiculous to suggest Microsoft may have taken such factors into account – indeed, it would have been rather sloppy had they not done so.
Just whether they will succeed in getting anything out of Microsoft is another matter however, though with hundreds of thousands of angry pirates and a supposedly substantial number of accounts banned in error there will likely be no shortage of people eager to see them pay for having the gall to try to make users pay for their software…