Consumer Class Action Firm Wants To Hear XBLA Banning Woes

by Meagan Marie on Nov 20, 2009 at 03:13 AM

You’ve probably heard by now (especially if you are one of the potential million Gold users banned) that Microsoft has been culling out undesirable subscribers from their Gold service who willingly modded their Xbox 360 consoles. The bans have encompassed individuals who modified their Xbox in order to play pirated software, as well as those who added extra hard drive space via non-Microsoft storage devices. The ramifications of being banned is that all subscribers on that particular console will indefinitely be unable to connect to Xbox Live.

Last week, Xbox Live’s Major Nelson issued the following reminder:

“All consumers should know that piracy is illegal and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live. The health of the video game business depends on customers paying for the genuine products and services they receive from manufacturers, retailers, and the third parties that support them.”

The widespread banning hasn’t gone unnoticed by gamers, and evidently caught the eye of those in the legal sphere. Abinton IP, a firm that specializes in Intellectual Property Law & Consumer Class Actions, recently posted a form on their website asking users to share their banning experience. Via GamePolitics we learned that the firm may be digging around in order to build a case for future litigation.

From Abinton IP’s Web site:

“An investigation is currently being conducted regarding business practices of Microsoft with respect to its recent cancellation of certain modified Xbox consoles for use with Xbox Live. 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. Although modification of Xbox consoles is *arguably* against the terms of use for Xbox/Xbox Live, Microsoft "conveniently" timed the Xbox console ban to coincide with the release of the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game and less than two months after the release of the very popular Halo 3: ODST game.”

Abinton IP goes on to argue that the “convenient” timing of the bans – in proximity of two of the largest releases of the year – forced banned users to purchase new consoles and new subscriptions. They also argue that sales of Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3: ODST would have been greatly diminished if not for the banning spree.

Although Abinton acknowledges Piracy is a legitimate concern for Microsoft, they still argue that the massive banning spree affected many people who have nothing to do with piracy. If you are one of the recently banned subscribers and want to share your experience, you can submit your info to Abinton here.

So what do you think? Is the issue black and white? Do you think Abinton has a case?