Microsoft Responds To Xbox One ‘Kill Switch’ Reports Related To NDA Violations

by Mike Futter on May 14, 2015 at 01:21 PM

Earlier today, we reported that footage had emerged of the rumored Gears of War Ultimate Edition. Throughout the day, more information became available, including a report from the contracted testing company that punitive action had been taken.

Kotaku published a memo reportedly sent from testing company VMC to employees. One item of note is that VMC claims that certain consoles belonging to those found in violation of an NDA were entirely disabled. The company suggests this is part of the Xbox Live End User License Agreement (EULA).

When reached for comment, Microsoft declined to share whether a mechanism that can completely suspend all usability exists. The company provided us with a statement on the situation, however.

“To be clear, if a console is suspended from Xbox Live for a violation of the Terms of Use, it can still be used offline,” a representative told us. “Microsoft enforcement action does not result in a console becoming unusable. Suspensions for both consoles and accounts are determined by looking at a number of factors.  To avoid enforcement action including suspension from the service, users should follow the Xbox Live Terms of Use and Code of Conduct.”

What this statement doesn’t address is whether there were additional strictures in place due to the NDA likely agreed upon by VMC and its employees. It also doesn’t directly address whether Microsoft has the ability to disable other functions, like disc playback and offline gaming. We’ve followed up with Microsoft in hopes of receiving some clarity.


Our Take
While it seems the average user is safe from anything worse than an account or console ban (consequences that have existed for years), I am still curious if VMC misspoke or if a “kill switch” exists. Microsoft may very well be incorporating all punitive action in its statement above, though. 

NDA violations are serious, and have the potential (especially with regard to an E3 announcement) to cost significant money. Penalties are severe, and Microsoft may have such a means (and cause) to ensure that its proprietary, unreleased content can’t be extracted from an Xbox One console. I’m not afraid of a potential kill switch being used improperly under normal use, but if one does exist, it is fair to question how it works and if it can be exploited.