December 25, 2005
Xbox 360 Mod Chips Expected Sooon

If more evidence was needed that no consumer electronics device can be made invulnerable to modification, reports that a hacker group has announced that mod chips for the Xbox 360 will be available within weeks.

This comes close on the heels of Microsoft's statement that:

We have made improvements on both the hardware and software side to protect Xbox 360 against piracy and modding. With Xbox 360, we had the benefit of learning from our experiences on Xbox. This allowed us to identify points of weakness that were exploited by hackers in the first generation and to eliminate those vulnerabilities in Xbox 360.

An impressive-sounding list of the barriers to modding can be found here. Still, when your console is a glorified PC, it's not exactly a surprise if hardware hackers find a way to access its full functionality and slap a different OS onto it, especially if they already did it in the console's last incarnation. There are also other issues at stake here, such as the fact that the feature sets of both the Xbox and Xbox 360, in their unmodded state, are intentionally crippled to cut down on piracy. Yet, if as Microsoft's own executives implicitly admit, such measures only serve to delay and deter modding to facilitate game piracy, isn't the consumer really losing out here? I suppose that's the price one pays for buying a console whose manufacturer loses money on each unit sold.