Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

In an age where criminals can be released in 50 years for even a terrible crime, I find it a bit strange that breaking the Terms of Service on Xbox Live might land myself a ban until the year 9999. That is about an 8000 year suspension, which is a permanent suspension. 

Now obviously, comparing jail to a video game console is not right. One is a privilege while the other is the freedom of life. Not everyone has the privilege to be able to play Xbox, so breaking any rules should obviously revoke that privilege. For the point of this blog though, lets set that thought aside.

I am now on the account "iBotPeaches v5", and as that username shows. I have been banned a lot. This blog post isn't about a pathetic excuse to get unbanned. It's about the aftermath of being banned and a small representation of how it feels.

Lets start with a global understanding of a few types of Xbox bans.

  • Game Specific Bans
    • These are bans that Xbox Live does not control. EX: Halo banning you from matchmaking for quitting too many games. Again, Xbox Live has nothing to do with this.
  • Profile Bans
    • A ban is placed on your account (Profile = Gamertag). That means that you can't use it on Xbox Live anymore, no matter where you sign in at.
  • Console Bans
    • A ban is placed on your console. That means that console, no matter the gamertag on it, cannot connect to Xbox Live. It's essentially a 400$ paperweight at that point, because an Xbox without Xbox Live is like a Chick Filet without chicken.
  • Windows Live Account Deletion Ban
    • I don't have a name for this ban, but it's happened to me once (and I've verified its happened to others). An Xbox Live account for those who don't know is actually a Windows Live account which can be used for things like
      • MSDN Network
      • Skydrive
      • Outlook Mail
      • Dreamspark
      • Product Testing (new Xbox Dashboard updates)
      • Zune
      • Xbox Forums
    • So imagine this ban is just your Windows Live account being deleted from the system completely. Attempting to re-register the same email fails and access to your account is lost. So you've lost access to all the above accounts including Xbox with no way back.
Lets continue on with an introduction to licensed content. You pay for access on Xbox Live to something like extra maps, weapon skins, or enhancements. That content is then signed and licensed to your xbox/profile. Since you can't physically own this content, just imagine that you are being given the ability to use it. Much like you don't "own" that gym you might have a membership to. You simply get access to it as long as you pay and don't break the rules.

This is a very familiar procedure in the online world. You don't buy music from iTunes, you license music from it. Try to take songs you download via iTunes and send me the raw MP3's. This is licensing 101.

We can get into an argument of what happens to the 12,000 songs you bought when you die and whether you are allowed to pass those purchased songs to your family. The rules currently say no, but I'll save that for another blog.

My recent ban on "Bio Toxic Peach" was an account that went 6 years without breaking any rules. 6 years is awhile to accumulate content. I did some quick math tallying up the game DLC's and purchases I did over those years and it came to roughly $350.

When I was banned, I lost all of it. I lost  all the content I had purchased over my lifetime. Of course I had to buy another physical Xbox and another Xbox Live membership, but on top of spending the $250 on new equipment I really wasn't ready to drop another $350 for all my DLC.

Things just get worst from then on. I can understand getting banned and loosing your personalized profile and it sucks starting back at Level 0. What really sucks though is Electronic Arts. EA games come included with a "online code". You can't play online unless you have one of those codes. (Its an attempt to make money on game resells).

However, I couldn't play one of my favorite games because it wanted another $25 from me in order to license the game. Even though I was looking at the physical disk in my hands where it had always been for 2 years. Even calling their support resulted in no luck. So cross playing that game off the list.

I try to pop in my favorite shooter game. The game requires DLC for almost all the playlists which instantly puts me at a disadvantage. I'm looking at my  Xbox storage device via the settings and see 7.8GB of DLC for this game. Why isn't it loading? Its licensed to a banned gamertag and cannot be used. Being banned with digital content was like Microsoft walking into my house and breaking all my discs in half. I paid for this stuff legally over the years and lost it all. I'm not okay with this.

Sooo. I did some research.

What happens when you steal Windows?

Windows puts some ugly banners on your desktop and annoys you every few hours that you are running an unlicensed copy. If this was the Xbox, Windows would delete your entire drive and then insult you for running an illegal build.

What happens when you get banned from Steam?

[Items] will be removed except any items that have been purchased.
Source: https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=4044-QDHJ-5691

I hope this requires zero explanation. Even if you break the Terms of Service at Steam. They let you keep the content you purchased legally. Unfortunately Xbox Live does not do this.

My final point? 

I guess don't do anything that could get you banned as a start, but the human race naturally messes with things. Its how we learn. So I have no final point. Keep going on. Just don't piss of Microsoft too much or you might end up like me.

My final comments to Microsoft (rants!)

  • I still get emails to the email account that was banned via the "Windows Live Account Deletion Ban". I can receive the reset password email and copy the reset password and login still fails. I've tried too many times to count and been on support calls for hours. (Which is how I learned about this ban). My account doesn't exist anymore at a level for technicians to see, but its still there somewhere. I'd like to call it a revocation/blacklist on me.
  • 6 years being a legal paying customer and one mistake lands me a permanent ban? Even a one year ban would of sufficed. Not to mention a paying customer for 11+ years.
  • How do you get away with this? When no other company can.
  • So much for having a "Explain Console Ban" forum that refuses to comment on my inquiries or just simply deletes them.
  • Thanks for still sending me "Xbox Live Rewards" emails to my blacklisted account.
  • If my newest account gets banned. I guess someone at Microsoft read this blog and is exercising some power.
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