A Guest Post from Stepto Regarding Console Suspensions

The following is a guest post by Stephen Toulouse

Hi everyone, Stephen Toulouse here, "Stepto" on Xbox LIVE and the weekly Major Nelson Radio podcast.  Most of you know me as the head of the Policy and Enforcement team for Xbox LIVE.

As I have noted many times on the podcast, the enforcement team exists to help protect the LIVE experience. One of the ways we do that is to prevent consoles from accessing the service that are involved in bad behavior such as cheating, fraud, running unauthorized software on the service, or playing illegitimate copies of games (to name a few). For the vast majority of our actions, our team reviews a lot of data, examines the behavior, and then we take action.  In some cases, very rarely, we use software features on the Xbox itself to help us take action.

Recently, it was brought to our attention that a number of customers had concerns about the validity of a recent ban of their individual consoles, which they feel had been triggered inaccurately. In this case, the bans were related specifically to modded consoles. I take these claims very seriously, and after an initial investigation we have confirmed that a handful of banned consoles did in-fact appear to not have been modified or tampered with. We’re still conducting our review but the cause appears to be a software issue, not an error on the part of the enforcement team’s normal actions.  It’s very specific and occurred between August 29 and September 9, affecting a very small percentage of users.

One of the most serious actions my team can take is to prevent a console from accessing Xbox LIVE.  We make every effort to be conservative when taking that action. If there is any doubt that this step was taken incorrectly, we want to address it while at the same time protecting the service for our customers.

Therefore, while we are still conducting a thorough investigation, the enforcement team is taking the step of reversing the bans for the tiny set of impacted consoles in that time period. Again, while it’s an extremely small percentage of impacted consoles, the good news is that we know exactly which ones. If you believe you are affected, simply try to reconnect your console to Xbox LIVE.  If it cannot still connect, that console was not a part of this issue.

Within a few business days, we will issue the primary account holder on the impacted console a credit for three months of Xbox LIVE Gold and 1600 Microsoft points.  Since we know exactly who is affected, those customers do not need to take any action.  Everything will be applied automatically. No keys or tokens to redeem, no other action to be taken.

I’d like to take a moment to personally apologize for the inconvenience this has almost certainly caused to the affected customers. You have my assurance that we are investigating how this error occurred and have since discontinued use of the software that was used. The Xbox LIVE community is the best out there and we regret the inconvenience this may have caused for our loyal members.

If you listen to our podcast (and I know many hundreds of thousands of you do!) you know I give out my email address in every episode.  I read all the email there, and it’s [email protected].  Please feel free to give me your feedback. If you feel you have been affected by this situation, be sure to use www.xbox.com/support/contact so we can get you to the appropriate people to help.

As always, you guys are the reason I come into work every day.  Thank you so much for making Xbox LIVE an amazing community and I look forward to hearing from you.

– Stephen Toulouse, head of Xbox LIVE Policy and Enforcement