Microsoft lowered the boom on a huge number of Xbox Live accounts earlier this week, with estimates of banhammered consoles running from 600,000 all the up to a million. The crackdown was aimed at owners of modded consoles, which can be used to play pirated games (as well as homebrew apps and imported games) and while this wasn't the first sweeping ban imposed against modded 360s, the fact that it came in concert with the launch of Modern Warfare 2 gave it considerably more sting.
Don't expect Microsoft to feel bad about it, though. "If it's clear someone is downloading pirated copies or have modified their Xbox in some way that will allow them to download games that they haven't purchased legitimately [then] yes we lock that account down and we're unapologetic about that," Chris Lewis, Microsoft's Vice President of Interactive Entertainment in Europe, said in an interview with Sky News.
"We are very committed to stamp out piracy. It's an issue not only for Xbox, it's an issue for the industry as a whole, it's an issue for Microsoft generally," he continued. "Clearly it's important for us to be able to stamp down on that to protect the 10 million people that are already on Xbox 360 in Europe for instance. So we take it very seriously."
There is one bit of good news for owners of banned consoles, however: Microsoft told the BBC that while banned 360s are gone for good, anyone caught in the dragnet can recover their accounts to other, unmodded consoles and resume their service.