Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Join the cause for official support: Don't buy modified Xbox 360s!

Today we found out that Microsoft just intensified their efforts to ban modified Xbox 360s from Xbox Live:

">> We don't have a lot of information yet (it just started, but we try to warn you all as early as possible), but it looks like Microsoft started a new wave of bans against modified DVD firmwares or DVD+/-R DL discs. Several users on our forums and on IRC report their Xbox 360 has been banned from LIVE today. We get reports of Toshiba-Samsung and Hitachi-LG drives banned with both Xtreme and even the newer iXtreme firmwares. However we also see many reports of people who are currently on LIVE and have no been banned (yet). No reports of banned BenQ drives yet (but few of these drives have been flashed yet). We don't know yet if Microsoft is detecting the modified firmware or the discs (or maybe only with a specific game?). If you have the 'Z Code' 8015-190D it means you are banned. As always Microsoft bans the console serial from LIVE, not your LIVE account. If your console is banned or if you have been playing on LIVE today with modified FW without getting banned, report you findings in this thread (include at least your live status, full drive model (swapped drive?, spoofing?) and firmware version used)."

I recall the time when me and my wife decided to even put up this blog. We were tired and frustrated with the trouble of looking for original games or accessories for the Xbox 360. That was when the console just launched in the United States but had somehow trickled into the local market. Later on there were some rumors that Microsoft Philippines would bring in local Xbox 360 support, but then we found out that that was not to be....there would be no support here because supposedly the market's too small and software piracy runs rampant and uncontrolled in this country.

We put up this blog to detail what it's like to game in a place without official support. It's not really a necessity to play video games but it's interesting to note the pains and hassles that gamers here go through just to enjoy the hobby. If you read the articles in this blog we've discussed a lot of those (like, signing up for Xbox Live as an illegal alien, for example) and occasionally give armchair commentary on the video game industry that doesn't-give-a-shit about the Philippine market.

That said, regarding piracy; I know that there isn't much we can do to stop it. The local government's efforts are pathetic at best. You'll see them raiding shops selling pirated CDs/DVDs on one day---and then the following day the retailers of pirated goods will sprout right back. Occasionally you'll even see members of the Philippine National Police mingling with them as if the retailers are doing nothing wrong, and even buying their goods. The big businesses who own the malls in the Philippines turn a blind eye to these retailers, playing "see-no-evil, hear-no-evil" as these retailers of pirated goods continue to sell their wares completely out in the open, and consumers don't bat an eyelash. They support these products, they don't know or care that they're technically 'stolen goods'.

That's reality here. People will blame it on poverty, say "mahirap lang kami!" and give all sorts of excuses for supporting piracy. It doesn't make it right, though. People make these games, as unnecessary as they are for the survival of any person---that doesn't give people a reason to outright steal them from the ones who worked hard to make them.

The truth is, there are a lot of Filipinos who go abroad to work, and some of them end up in companies which create software. Imagine if there were no piracy here in the Philippines....there would be incentive for software companies to set up shop here and sell their wares, and there would be more jobs and opportunities for Filipinos. Then Filipinos wouldn't have to leave their families here to pursue opportunities abroad. Families would be more united and the larger society would benefit as a whole.

It probably sounds like a ridiculous pipe dream but this problem is very real. Because there is no enforcement of IP laws here in this country, foreigners (who've got the capital and can give jobs to Filipinos) are discouraged to do business here. Even Filipinos who want to get into software development are discouraged to do business here. Remember that video game that was developed by Anino Entertainment? (Anito). Even that game was pirated. I mean, the retailers didn't even consider that it was their fellow Filipinos who worked hard on that game, and they didn't consider that their effort was worth anything. It's really sad.

Just remember that, when you support piracy, in some way you're helping to keep the Philippines in the Third World. You're discouraging businesses from growing here. You're forcing Filipinos to leave their families to work abroad because there are no opportunities here. More and more, the software industry is becoming an important force in the global economy, and until the Philippines can fight software piracy (whether through the government or through people's own volition), we can't get a piece of that pie.

That said, don't wait for our corruption ridden government to do something about piracy. Do something about it YOURSELF. Don't support pirated software. That extends to console games too---don't support modified consoles. I know it sounds preachy and all, but this is why we've got no official support to begin with. Change has got to come from the people, don't waste your time waiting for the Philippine government to change. Change what you can change, and that's yourself.

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