Hit With The Ban Hammer

Gaming is good. Buying games from shops is good. Not cheating is good. Only playing approved games on your machines is good. But what of all the bad stuff?  Well if you partake of the bad stuff, it is known in all gaming circles what will happen to you; you will be banned. You will have your accounts frozen, maybe even memberships wiped.  Yes, some of this is pure folklore, but the vast majority is a very real prospect, however. Who made the companies god?  What gives them the right to ban people, accounts or memberships?  Should they be allowed to do it?

This is the actual Ban Hammer.

At the lowest end of the scale there is the curse of glitching; things in games that aren’t meant to be there but give players an advantage. Or simple cheating; be it disconnecting before the end of a match or using turbo fires/kill switches to avoid defeats.  I have no doubt in my mind that these can be hugely annoying but are they so severe that they should be punished by moderators?  In the case of cheating, it may be worth a wee slap on the wrists, but resetting accounts or imposing temporary bans? I really don’t think the crime quite merits the punishment.  Even worse is the glitching aspect; most famously the Modern Warfare games have had a few examples of glitching that set forums buzzing. But is it right to ban players that exploit the glitches or reset the players to level zero?  In one word, no!  Glitches are purely the fault of the developers, the players haven’t altered the game in any way. The developers missed out on the glitches through the testing process so why should the players have to suffer?

Using your cat to play games… ban!

The most famous of all the ban stories comes from Microsoft. The story goes, as almost every gamer could tell you, if you are caught playing an unreleased game before launch, you will be banned from XBox Live.  What isn’t pointed out, though, is that this only really applies if you have a modified XBox that can play pirated games. If you are playing a genuine retail/press copy of the game you have nothing to worry about.  So, we all know that games piracy is bad and can cost the industry millions, but you can’t pirate a membership to Xbox live, it is a paid for subscription service.  So should Microsoft be able to ban someone that has maybe paid a years’ subscription upfront because they have illegally downloaded a game to play on a modded console?  Personally I think that this is a really tricky one to police. Yes they have done wrong by pirating a game but as far as I know, modded consoles are easily detectable when online. But if those consoles are merely used for legal gaming, a paid subscription will be granted without questioning.  Surely this smacks of some double standards somewhere; with one hand they giveth and with the other they taketh, seems to sum it up.

It's not all folklore, 'tis real.

Now we have the arrival of the Nintendo 3DS, surely there is no place for swinging the ban hammer here, or so you may have thought.  The original DS was home to one of the largest examples of gaming piracy ever.  With use of a special card, people could download thousands of games and play them for free, initially; perfectly legal the world over.  Pretty soon, most countries had banned the sale of these cards and it seemed that the problem was over. Just to make sure, the DSi was released; that would effectively stop all  piracy as it wasn’t compatible with any of the special cards.  Of course it wasn’t long before some clever people found a way to allow pirated games to be played on the DSi. So what was the next step?  Well, it seems it was to come up with a 3DS which is a super powered DS with bells and whistles and an added ban feature.

Apparently, if you go online with a 3DS it will be easy to detect if you are using any pirated software and then, via a firmware update, your console will be locked and rendered useless!  Nice!  So you fork out £220 for a console that has the prospect of being remotely turned in to a brick, maybe due to a slight error of judgement.  I’m really unsure if that sits well with me.  Yes, piracy is bad but to the extent where a perfectly legal machine is locked out?

Game over, man. Game over!

So, my idea in the whole ban-riddled mess is that from this moment on there have to be warnings that there is a possibility you may be banned or locked out of your console.  As far as I know, this kind of literature doesn’t feature anywhere in manuals or even online.  Gaming is costly and you should know the consequences of your actions before you commit large sums of money. Maybe the alternative solution is to take away this power from the companies, or to have a procedure in place where players can appeal against any bans.


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4 responses to “Hit With The Ban Hammer”

  1. Mike avatar

    I think they’re should be measures in place to punish cheaters, modders and hackers. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing your A-game destroyed by a bunch of arseholes not playing the game properly.

    That being said, it’s easy for innocent gamers to get banned for petty, trivial things. I was banned for a week when Modern Warfare 2 came out and had my entire profile wiped because my motto was ‘fanny bum’. So it’s okay for me to be banned while there are people with swastiaks as their emblems spawn-trapping while obviously using a lag switch to ensure none of your bullets are doing damage?

    Bullshit.

  2. paul avatar
    paul

    I understand their desire to ‘punish’ thiefs, however the onus really is on the console makers to help ensure the security of their system. Sony is doing this very well, however MS seem to be just handing out bans (usually when an 1st party game is released like Halo or Gears). I like how Sony are doing it, providing a great, free service and I think the inconvenience of not having access to that often outweighs the benefit of some free games.

    It really is tricky but the ban hammer is possibly the least effective means of dealing with piracy, hell with how easily hacking it is its almost entrapment.

    The banning of their account, well they agreed to the T&Cs so they are SOL, however bricking a console is utterly reprehensible and should surely be illegal.

  3. Mark P avatar

    Personally, if it’s in the T&Cs that you agree to abide by when you make an Xbox Live account or a PSN account then if you break it it’s entirely within Microsoft or Sony’s rights to punish you as they see fit. So maybe they’re a bit harsh admittedly, but maybe it’s the only way people will take the hint.

    I see websites like this http://whywasibanned.com/ and I really have no pity for the vast majority of people on there. They only have themselves to blame.

  4. Tim avatar
    Tim

    Good stuff…

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