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MS Employees Debate Mod Chips 107

Via 1up, a post on Xbox strategy group member Andre Vrignaud's blog discusses the view of mod chips from inside Microsoft. Not surprisingly, he concludes that they're a barrier to a viable business model. Just the same, the post has some good consideration of the issue from both sides. Especially interesting is his comment that "a friend of mine at Microsoft once demonstrated a modded PSP to Bill Gates and showed off all of the interesting things that enabled. According to my friend Bill was intrigued and asked the audience what we might be able to do to encourage this sort of thing without damaging the business." Even if it's a sticky wicket, at least they're thinking along the right lines.
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MS Employees Debate Mod Chips

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  • Great, I have a modded Xbox! Now if I could just get rid of that pesky blinking orange light.
    • Re:Modchips rock! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Svpernova09 ( 978812 )
      then you didn't do something right :_)
    • You could have just softmoded your xbox, and saved yourself money and effort.
      • Softmodding (Score:5, Insightful)

        by HTH NE1 ( 675604 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @06:57PM (#15836139)
        You could have just softmoded your xbox

        As someone who has done that, I can tell you it isn't that easy to do, mainly because sites with the information seem to want you to sign up for membership to their forums before they'll let you access the instructions. (I just wanted to get the info and go; I don't want to have to subscribe to a forum and bother veteran modders with newbie questions.)

        It is also getting harder and harder to find compatible USB thumbdrives with which to perform a softmod. The only drive that I could find that would work completely with the XBOX would cause my PC to hang until it was removed and available instructions to store the image to the drive with a Mac just didn't work. Luckily some newer thumbdrives with acknowledged issues could be used on the PC to put the gamesaves on and copy to the XBOX, but could not be used to transfer data from an XBOX (failed writes).

        Many tutorials' links to essential resources now lead to sites that have become ad farms or pointed to the wrong TLD (e.g. .com instead of .org). The access requirements to forums make one have to use Google to search for information, so sticky threads don't help. Errors and omissions don't get corrected or filled in.

        Older methods which work with MechWarrior provide images to store on the drives, but newer methods that work with SID4 require another application to move bare gamesaves to the device, and further require you to download another program to get thumbdrive make and model code numbers and alter the application to recognize a USB thumbdrive as its proprietary storage device. Even the free version apparently only wants to work with the proprietary devices.

        And then, once you get the mod in, you can't find any of the hacks in precompiled form. I have still to find where I can get a cross compiler to build my own binaries for emulators and applications, and still haven't found any public information on where to store them on the box's filesystem. Even with telnet enabled, the only command I can find that works is DIR; no CD command.

        BTW, be careful with SID4. It doesn't seem to like it when you use a component video display instead of a composite and if you try hitting buttons blindly you may wipe out your EEPROM and/or drive backups. (I couldn't find SID4.5 or anything newer so I don't know if this issue has been fixed.) SID4 also apparently doesn't support component video (black screen and failure to exploit), so keep your original composite harness handy.

        And if you can't get the maps to load in Halo 2, check to make sure your cable is firmly connected to the hub or switch before opting to revert your mod.
        • Re:Softmodding (Score:3, Informative)

          by Frogbert ( 589961 )
          I don't know how long ago you wanted to softmod your xbox but these days its very simple providing you aren't afraid to open your xbox up.

          http://forums.xbox-scene.com/index.php?showtopic=4 96263 [xbox-scene.com]

          Follow that tutorial and in a few hours you will have a softmodded xbox.
        • An Action Reply + Splinter Cell was the method I used. It was really really simple, and since I already had Splinter Cell it only cost me a little over $30, which is less then I'd spend on a modchip. This was the tutorial I used [afterdawn.com], and it made it extremely easy. Too bad you've already had a bad experience with softmodding, but I hope this info helps someone else before they try the method you used.
          • there are lots of options for modchips less then $30 so long as you're not afriad to solder something.

            They tend to work more reliably and offer more features too, not to mention they're not at all annoying to work with.

            If you already have a game and an action replay you, and your xbox is old enough you can re-flash the onboard bios and get the same functionality as a modchip with none of the negatives associated with a softmod.
  • EMP1: Apart from legal issues, mod chips contain amazing software.
    EMP2: Please pronounce sof'ware like Bill wants you to: SOF'WARE
  • "a friend of my mothers dog's daughthers neighbour at Microsoft once demonstrated a modded PSP to Bill Gates and showed off all of the interesting things that enabled."

    Yeah right.
    • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:12PM (#15835067) Journal
      He's shown an interest in modded XBoxes...

      from Ars [arstechnica.com]

      A little over a year ago, one of the people in my group modded an Xbox, installed Avalaunch, and put all sorts of Xbox mod scene apps on the box, like XBMC, RSS readers, etc, along with some "backup" games. :rolleyes: He brought this box along to a meeting with Bill Gates. Bill saw a demo of this, was quite impressed, and asked something along the lines of "How can we engage this community?" - instead of saying something like "How can we squash this?" It's long been on the back of everyone's minds in the Xbox group - how can we get students and hobbyists involved without disrupting the console business model? The good news is that it's still on the radar, we'll see what happens in the future.

      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
        it could probably be enabled without allowing much piracy by allowing binaries to run unchecked if they only allocate a certain amount of memory, say 1/4 of the system ram, half of the allowed ram could be paged out among the disallowed memory but with a significant time delay, perhapse one tenth of a second.
        this would be plenty useful for media players and other legitimate homebrew stuff but would make converting a pirated binary all but impossible without the source code and data files to modify for use
        • Thats a good idea, great for media players, RSS readers etc. but it would stifle emulator efforts, which are probably the next biggest set of homebrew apps next to media players. It would certainly be a step in the right direction though.

          One problem with that (from the business side) is that MS, and other console makers, sell their console at a loss in hopes of making that money back with the sales of games and accessories. If they sell consoles that people buy just for homebrew then they'll do nothing b
          • an application designed with the understanding that the second half of addressable memory can be paged out but slowly will have no problems running in that space, move the next few chunks of data to the lower memory and begin the swap a while before you need the data. you could even duplicate a few % of data at the beginning of one block and the end of another. the point is that reverse engineering and altering a pirated binary to behave that way would be difficult to get working at all and nearly impossi
    • "a friend of my mothers dog's daughthers neighbour at Microsoft once demonstrated a modded PSP to Bill Gates and showed off all of the interesting things that enabled."


      Lone Starr: "And what does that make us?"
      Bill Helmet: "Absolutely nothing! Which is exactly the license you had to mod this PSP!"
      • "Absolutely nothing! Which is exactly the license you had to mod this PSP!"

        Whoawhoawhoa. Whoa.

        Since when do I require a LICENSE to modify a piece of hardware that I purchased outright?
        • Re:sceptical (Score:3, Informative)

          by snuf23 ( 182335 )
          Since the DMCA was passed. Since mod chips defeat copyright protection in the consoles you are in violation of the DMCA if you mod (or soft mod) your console.

          Wheee!
        • Ahhh, but you did not purchase the hardware. You purchased a licence to use it in a manner they find acceptable.

          Do you think that's air you're breathing?

        • You don't, and you never have. What you might have needed was a license to make a copy of software (a "game save") or something like that. You might have included copyrighted code in the patch you uploaded into the system. Again, that would need a license. But to mod your hardware? No license is, or ever has been, necesary.
        • Isn't the mod just an (unauthorized) derivative work of the OS already on the PSP?

          There's nothing illegal ('cept in the manufacturer's eyes) about cleaning the system and flashing Linux. Now if you want to "mod"ify the system and keep the OS on there...that is copyright infringement on the same scale as emulated video games.
    • Uh huh...did Bill offer $100 to this friend for every 10 people he showed the modded PSP to?
    • "a friend of my mothers dog's daughthers neighbour at Microsoft once demonstrated a modded PSP to Bill Gates and showed off all of the interesting things that enabled."

      That's not the way I heard it at all! It has nothing to do with mod chips and everything to do with chocolate chips.

      This is the way it really happened.

      Long before Microsoft actually wrote software, they were actually a fashionable department store. One day, a lady had lunch in the department store cafeteria during a long day shopping. For des
  • by tonyr1988 ( 962108 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:09PM (#15835042)
    I'm glad that Microsoft is actually looking into this. From the business perspective, a lot of money could be made if Microsoft / Sony / Nintendo (are there modded Gamecubes?) would embrace the mod chips.

    It's the equivalent of illegally downloaded songs several years ago. Apple was one of the first to "cash in" on it. They had managed to get people to pay for something they could get free.

    If the big console manufacturers would do this, not only would it make their game systems more appealing, but it would put some more cash in their pockets...
    • I would agree, If I could have bought an x-box with a 200gig hard drive from MS, I would have.
    • This fits in with the author's comments on the "attach rate"--accessories sold per console sold. The biggest problem with mod chips is that they void the warranty of the console. Allowing them as an add-on option (and possibly certifying XYZ, co. to manufacture the chips) means that the upgrade can be done without voiding the warranty, should console design permit this. A system that would never be purchased is now desirable because its usefulness is increased, and maybe MS sells more consoles. They wou
      • MS doesn't care about selling more consoles. They care about the attach rate. If they sell 2 million consoles and each person only purchases an extra controller and a mod-chip, they're going to loose boatloads of cash. If they believed that a mod-chip would result in more games and accessories being sold than without, they'd release one in a heartbeat.
        • Also, MS doesn't care about warranties, as the US XBox 360 comes with a whopping 3 month warranty. Many, many complaints on this one, including an internet petition here [petitiononline.com]. By law the warranty in Europe is 2 years and Australia is 1 year, but our government loves businesses rights over personal rights, so we get 3 months...
        • If there were no memory cards, the only games sold would be games that could be finished in a couple hours (as continue codes are a pain). Just as memory cards opened up a market for longer, more complex games that would not be made/bought otherwise, mod chips open up the market for people to buy games the would not be able to play without such a chip. How does offering more choices lead to fewer sales of games?
    • in a small way, microsoft has stepped up to this with the downloadable games on xbox live. some of them are immensely popular. not to mention cheap!
    • They never see the long distance picture of thousands of dedicated fans that, even with pirate games, have a higher attach rate than avg.

      If they would just give us what we want, and what is possible (just look at a modded xbox) and they would get all the gold they could eat.
    • There are modded Gamecubes. AFAIK you either use 8cm DVDs or install a 12cm drive. I have never actually seen one though.
  • by kinglink ( 195330 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:16PM (#15835100)
    Make it so the user can't find a reason to use a mod chip except piracy. Sounds like what it is now?

    Except I can't play Japanese or European games with out a mod chip for the most part.

    I can't play out of region DVDs.

    I can't play any form of a backup of games I legally owned but was destroyed one way or another (I recently lost over 200 PSX and PS2 games because of a moving compnay, they can't find the boxes. Am I supposed to go rebuy Suikoden 1 and 2, Xenogears, Castlevania Symphony of the Night, and Disgaea all from scalpers on Ebay? )

    I can't install an OS on the hard drive if I wish to.

    I can't install the game on the Hard drive for performance boosts (not all games and systems get it but leave it an option, maybe even allow me to install the game and then use the game as a boot disc but the game must remain in the system)

    I can't load music from my disc unless it's a music cd, I own a couple hundred cds, I use mp3s for ease of use, I have my top 200+ songs on a single cd, now the 360 wants me to insert every CD I own to rerip them to get those songs?

    All this shit should at least have a way to achieve it. I can live with out backups and OSes, but region coding stuff makes the modchip necessary. Microsoft knows that they lose money on systems, so which is better? Forcing me to buy two systems to play games in two regions or buying one system and spending the other 400 dollars on games in the second region?

    If I could ignore region codes on a system and install games for speed benefit, I wouldn't have a reason to get a mod chip except if my video games were destroyed or stolen from me and Microsoft or the developer didn't sell those games any more.
    • Except I can't play Japanese or European games with out a mod chip for the most part.

      Complain to the game companies who choose different distributors to distribute games in different regions.

      I can't play out of region DVDs.

      Complain to the entity which refuses to license players which lack region lockouts.

      I can't play any form of a backup of games I legally owned but was destroyed one way or another (I recently lost over 200 PSX and PS2 games because of a moving compnay, they can't find the boxes. Am I suppo
      • Complain to the game companies who choose different distributors to distribute games in different regions.

        Except that's not the case, the person who says there's different regions is Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo. Nintendo makes a game and Nintendo of America will distribute in America, That game is not able to be played in Japan unless I own a US version of the Nintendo console. Getting that US version of the console is also abnormally hard as it is. I should be able to buy a Japanese 360 if i wish to, I have
        • I don't want to have to dedicate my system and my network to Media Center Connect. I run Windows XP and it is already screwed up enough to the point I can't bridge my connection so my Xbox 360 connects to live through it. Microsoft doesn't have an answer except "it should work". However it doesn't. I don't know why, Microsoft created BOTH the XP system, and the 360, and yet it doesn't work? So why should I use that when the only way I can get online is going direct to the router. Do I have to choose between

          • Yeah, this is an easy solution that works well. I love how my Xbox360 can display and run all my stuff on my Media Center Pc. However, its inability to play back xvid encoded movies really puts me off. If MS could add this, I'd be really happy with the setup.
        • Actually, the 360 is not inherently region coded. Any game actually developed by Microsoft or a subsidiary will not be region locked. Microsoft allows 3rd parties to decide whether they want games to be region locked or not, and most of them decide to do so. So you can't blame that one on Microsoft.

          There have also been rumors about the PS3 not having region locking, but I don't know if that's been verified as true or not. I do know that in the Blu-ray specifications, Japan & the US are part of the

        • Except that's not the case, the person who says there's different regions is Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo. Nintendo makes a game and Nintendo of America will distribute in America, That game is not able to be played in Japan unless I own a US version of the Nintendo console. Getting that US version of the console is also abnormally hard as it is. I should be able to buy a Japanese 360 if i wish to, I have to go to less than reputable organizations for that. Japanese Amazon can not sell me one because of agreemen
        • Except that's not the case, the person who says there's different regions is Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo.

          Nope. The 360 is perfectly capable of having region free games. Many (MotoGP, hitman, prey) ARE region free. IT's the publisher's choice. MS DO make the decision to regionalise first party games but they don't force it on anyone else.
      • I can't install the game on the Hard drive for performance boosts (not all games and systems get it but leave it an option, maybe even allow me to install the game and then use the game as a boot disc but the game must remain in the system)

        Keep people from "installing" the game on all of their friends consoles.


        If you read a little more carefully, you'll see he would accept a system that requires the game disc to be inserted each time; it's just having a large internal drive that caches the disc data, so yo
      • Piracy has in many ways helped the industry...
        The Amiga was hugely popular in Europe as a games playing machine, mostly because the games were so easy to pirate... Everyone i know who had an Amiga had a huge selection of pirated games and a moderately sized collection of legitimate games. Despite what certain amiga commercial software authors will tell you, piracy did not kill the amiga, commodore killed the amiga through poor marketting and complacency.
        Contrast this to console owners, who typically had qui
      • You can use your 360 to listen to the music on your computer via your home network quite easily. This is probably one of the dashboard features I use the most. Xbox 360 Media Setup [xbox.com]
  • by CharAznable ( 702598 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:17PM (#15835103)
    The guy still thinks like a corporation with regards to imports and homebrew games. He says: >Sure, there are games you might want to play that are either released earlier or, quite possibly, not released at all in your region. But sometimes companies have good reasons to either not release a title into a region or release it at different dates. It may be because of the time and cost of localization, marketing plans, ad buys, cultural considerations, or perhaps even because of the impact of piracy in the region. Whatever good reasons they might have, there's no reason why their business model considerations should override the inalienable right I have to use the things I have paid money for. If I pay money for an xbox, and I pay money for some japanese game, then I have the right to use them. Marketing considerations shouldn't be more important. If I want to play homebrew games or write my own, it's my own friggin xbox that I bought with my money. That your business model is not compatible with this has, or should have no moral or legal weight whatsoever. That you lose money on every xbox sold? Not my problem. Should have sold it for a profit. I pay money for it, it is as mine as my groceries or my car. Corporations desperately want to move to a model where you don't buy hardware, you "license" it, but when that happens, that's the day I stop buying it.
    • Corporations desperately want to move to a model where you don't buy hardware, you "license" it, but when that happens, that's the day I stop buying it.

      Which translates to:

      The day they no longer sell hardware is the day I stop buying it.

      Which, you know, is sort of self-evident. ;)

      (Yes, I know what you meant, your point is well taken, and I pretty much agree with you - but my internal logic parser couldn't resist the comment)
    • Your arguments are valid to a certain extent, but they are also utterly useless.

      First of all, what specific inalienable rights are you speaking of? Point them out to me specifically, because as far as I'm aware there is no inalienable right to compatibility. Yes, you have a right to own and do what you want with your property, but at no point does it say you have any right to compatibility. If any restriction, natural or artificial prevents you from getting total enjoyment out of a product, there is no

      • If any restriction, natural or artificial prevents you from getting total enjoyment out of a product, there is no recourse, legal or moral to that.

        Nitpicking, you do have the right to the enjoyment of your personal property and any action that interferes with that enjoyment may be actionable.
    • Japanese Lego blocks are compatible with North American Lego blocks and European Lego blocks, so a game developed for a given console should be compatible with said console: it makes sense to me!

      Why do marketing executroids think that applying limitations to a product, they can maximize profits? Doesn't it cost more money building these barriers in the first place? Imagine how much money the hardware manufacturers spent on developing region encoding when they could have dropped that "feature" complete
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It may be because of the time and cost of localization, marketing plans, ad buys, cultural considerations, or perhaps even because of the impact of piracy in the region.

    Importers don't care about the cost or time that goes into localization because they're playing a game without localization. None of those reasons make a lick of sense. Why should importers be affected by the costs of things they don't benefit from? And the cost of ads is beyond irrelevant to the ethicality of importing games.

    This guy sai

    • ... price discrimination, in the economic sense. Suppose you sell English language software in the United States and India. The marginal cost of production of the software is the same in both countries, and is pretty close to zero. The maximum cost the market will bear in the United States is many, many times what it is in India. Transportation costs between the United States and India are very tiny relative to the value of your software. Presto changeo, rather than your company profiting in both the U
    • Of course importers don't care; this isn't about importers. This is about distribution. Companies distributing in multiple regions do care about these things.

      The question you should be asking yourself is this: does importing a game make it more or less likely for a title to be distributed in multiple regions (keeping in mind distributing in multiple regions does include additional costs). Ask yourself if your answer remains the same for a niche title vs a blockbuster title.
  • by happyemoticon ( 543015 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:26PM (#15835167) Homepage

    I'd mod a console if only for the ability to install a bigger drive and an alternate dashboard. The killer feature in my mind is without a doubt the ability to switch between different games without fumbling with the physical media. Kids destroy physical media at an astonishing rate, CDs get lost, they're hard to find, and they're a pain to organize.

    Yes, I realize this facilitates piracy, and that this is something that many modded console owners do. I don't care. I have a good enough job that I could buy enough old console games to keep my busy for a good while. I'm not going to let weak copy protection and the letter of a EULA stand between me and something I see as a reasonable extension of console functionality, especially on a console which comes with a hard drive.

    As for #3, which the author "cannot condone," I'm not eating into their profits by extending the functionality in this manner. I'd still be buying all of the whizbang accessories and games that they use to put themselves in the black. They don't provide a product (so far as I know) that allows the user to load a game which they own without the CD, so I'm not eating into their profits as long as I don't violate my own mores and pirate a game.

    I'm not asking that they condone mod chips, I'm just asking them to explore the ability to do something that a console with an upgradable hard drive is just BEGGING to do. It's like they're shipping cars with 4 disc brakes and the rear brakes are disconnected, and connecting them is illegal. It's just stupid.

  • ... and amazingly they can do it without damaging *their* core business. :)
  • Basically the author comes up with a convoluted reason to oppose mod chips which all resolve to the same basic argument: Microsoft should dictate how you use your property - you should not have a moral right to decide how to use your own property that you paid for.
  • "Business model" == barriers to a fully free market == artificial obstacles to competition == preventing a fully optimal economy
  • Their main argument seems to be the razor blade model. If they sell them below cost, this kind of things loses them money. If they sell them at cost, no one buys them.

    That's fair enough, but they have a third option. Sell consoles as they are, only make a special version (that will make up all your lost money then some) that lets users develop home brew stuff. Just charge 'em more. If you don't want to make a 2nd or 3rd SKU for that, sell a kit that does the same thing (and is priced accordingly).

    The othe

  • Microsoft wants a community to be developed around the Xbox, with hobbyists or fans making stand-alone games, utilities, and content for pre-existing games much like they do on the PC. Sort of like add-on modules for RPG games like Oblivion or (gasp) Grand Theft Auto.

    What Microsoft wants to avoid is losing control of their monopoly of hardware. It is a slippery slope: Give users the ability to make homebrew games and content risks leaking the secrets of the console booting process.

    The real question is thi
  • Why doesn't Microsoft make the mod chip?

    That way, Microsoft could recover the console subsidy and let amateur (home) developers try to develop software for the XBox?
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @09:02PM (#15836719)
    Microsoft sells a devkit (either as an addon to an existing 360 or a special 360).
    With this devkit, you can build and compile XBOX 360 code. But, the code would only be signed for (and run on) the specific devkit.
    If you want others to be able to use it, you can post the code and other devkit users can compile it and sign with their devkit key.
    The libraries would provide access to the DirectX stuff and other features of the console with the following differences:
    No access to run code from or read data from any disks in the optical drive. Everything would be loaded onto the hard disk only
    Changes to the library to prevent pirate copies of normal 360 games from being made and run with this devkit and also to make it useless for real shops doing game development (licence aggrement would also prevent real shops from doing anything with this cheap kit)
    Limits would be placed on network access

    Then, there would be a way where people with something worth selling could approach microsoft and if its good enough, microsoft would allow it to be sold on XBOX live marketplace with microsoft getting $$$ from the sale.

    They could even allow things like 360MC (to let you play all your media files on the 360) or the like. (as long as they get their cut)
  • Andre Vrignaud hit the 3 main reasons people mod their consoles and argued why these are bad. He says piracy is bad. I think most people can agree on principle, you shouldn't pirate, regardless of whether or not you actually partake in such practices.

    What gets me is when Andre suggests that you don't have a right to do something with hardware you purchased because you got it below it's real value. If someone wants to sell you something cheap, that doesn't mean that you own it less.

    Bill Gates honestly seems to have changed his outlook on life in many ways. He went from publicly saying he doesn't believe in charity to becoming Time's Man of the Year for charity work. He claims that he wants to change Microsoft's business practices to be less confrontational, perhaps forced by the EU's fines.

    I'm not shocked that Gates wants to reach out to creative people who are using the XBox in innovative ways. I believe that you can encourage this market, and use it as a means to showcase the power of your console, while at the same time discouraging piracy.

    Right now despite all the anti-Sony sentiment, I'm seriously considering the $500 PS3 which I believe provides more value in the end than the $400 360. (Both have HDD's, neither have HDMI, PS3 has more power, Blu-Ray and free online play). Sony is also talking about allowing Linux on the PS3 out of the box, and allowing full homebrew development. If the 360 allowed me to run stuff like XBox Media Center, perhaps I'd be more interested in the 360. But given that the XBox is largely an x86 PC that runs a gimped version of Direct X, if the PS3 does allow for proper homebrew applications, I wouldn't be totally surprised to see an XBox emulator on the PS3. Hell, I have a PS1 and N64 emulator on my XBox right now.

    Can you imagine a PS3 that plays PS3/2/1 and XBox games?

    I think I need a wet-nap.
    • There are many restrictions on the use of hardware that you may have purchased. For example, in my state, one is prohibited from converting a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic weapon. One is prohibited from converting a HAM radio to a radio that interferes with the AM/FM bands. There are tons of other examples. So, there is no "right" to do with owned hardware whatever you please.
      • I never considered that angle before. Your two examples are covered by specific legislation. As it stands in this country, the sale and use of mod chips is legal in and of itself, and there is no legislation preventing the use of a mod chip, only legislation preventing the piracy of games (which is how it should be).

        However, a gun has no real purpose other than killing things, which is rarely legal. A fully automatic weapon isn't exactly necessary for hunting geese. If you modify your radio to transmit
        • Well, I'm not sure what country you live in, but you're lucky. Here in the U.S., installing mod chips, selling mod chips, Hell, even providing modding INSTRUCTIONS is illegal thanks to the good ole' DMCA. You can't even buy a region-free player legally here (like you can even at commerical retailers in Europe).

          -Eric

          • That's news to me. I bought my mod chip in a store legally here in the US. You can sell modded XBox'es on Ebay so long as you don't include games on the HDD. Every time I see someone busted in the news, it wasn't for the mod chip itself, but rather including pirated games on the XBox. And xbox-scene.com is run out of the US, which provides full modding tutorials.
  • As an indicator that there is a target market here, I recently bought 2 X-Boxes, but no games. I've got no intention of buying any games either.

    My *sole* reason for buying them is to convert them to X-Box Media Centre players. I've got all our music CDs ripped and stored on a file server, along with my (bought) DVDs and TV recorded with Myth TV. After getting the X-Boxes chipped and attached to wireless bridges, I can play all this content through any TV in the house, without running wires around.

    Althoug
    • XBMC is probably one of the most useful programs I've ever set up, and if anyone is considering making a cheap media center pc, it's best just to buy an xbox instead.

      XBMC is ridiculously easy to operate (the menus are designed correctly and actually make sense), it plays everything right off the bat (something my PC wouldn't even do), has an amazing amount of useful features (automatic mp3 encoding and tagging from CD, imdb and allmusicguide look up for movies and albums) and even networks flawlessly with n
  • by sd.fhasldff ( 833645 ) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:18AM (#15838113)
    The problem with mod-chips for the business model is that console makers are losing a lot of money on the hardware. This loss is then compensated for by increasing the prices of games.

    This is fundamentally the same issue as in the mobile phone industry, where the phones are often sold at steep discounts - in exchange for being tied to a contract with increased costs of actually using the phone and/or a monthly charge.

    At least here in Denmark, rules disallow many "deceptive" business practices, resulting in virtually all subsidized phones being sold with a contract that forces 6 months of payment (after which the monthly charge is typically reduced to zero (unless the plan includes free minutes / text messages or the like)). Additionally, stores are required to give the total (minimum) cost of the phone over the contract period. This allows consumers to easily compare prices.

    Thus consumers are perfectly willing to pay for a mobile phone by laying down X dollars now and Y dollars a month for Z number of months. Maybe some are deluding themselves into thinking, that they're actually getting something for those Y dollars a month, but I'd wager most aren't.

    Why shouldn't this exact same "solution" work for console makers? Especially now that consoles feature internet accounts.

    Microsoft could then sell its console for the same price as before, but include a contract for 6 months of "Xbox Live Diamond" access at some monthly charge.
    • Additionally, stores are required to give the total (minimum) cost of the phone over the contract period.

      I wish they'd do that over here (UK). So many people seem to fall for those "half price line rental for three months" tricks etc.

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