Stir: Console Hacks And Mods
Modding / Hacking of consoles has been in the forefront of the news in the past year. The PS3 was succesfully modded, the 3DS was jailbroken soon after its release in Japan and Microsoft continues to police Xbox Live for modded hardware. Here are just a few of the headlines and coverage from this past year:
- Lock and Load – Episode 45
- PS3 Has Finally Been Modded
- Nintendo 3DS Hacked Already?
- Kinect Has Been Hacked
- Sony Statement: Hackers Will Be Banned
- Stir: The BanHammer
When refer to modding I am specifically talking about modifying the console hardware or software so it will perform differently than the manufacture intended. I’m not referring to case modding – which I am convinced is art and I have displayed several examples in the inset pictures. I’m focusing on running homebrew software or rigging the hardware so copied or pirated games can be played. While not all modding is related directly to piracy, piracy relies on modding, and therefore used as a profiling flag to detect pirates. But is this fair?
When you purchase a gaming console, you own the hardware (the physical machine). What you do not own is the software or operating system that makes the machine a usable gaming console. The software is technically licensed for your use with a long list of provision that you agree to in order to use the software. These provisions are in the small print that was probably disposed of as soon as it came out of the box. Here are some of the terms you have agreed to:
PlayStation 3 (Via Sony)
1. LICENSE GRANT
Subject to the terms and conditions of this Agreement, all System Software is licensed to users solely for personal, non-commercial use on the PS3™ system in the country in which the PS3™ system was designed by SCE to operate. To the extent permitted by applicable law, your rights to use or access the current version of the System Software will cease upon installation of a newer version of the System Software onto your PS3™ system, whether such installation occurs through manual or automatic download by SCE through SCE’s online network, or otherwise. SCE does not grant any license to System Software obtained by users in any manner other than through SCE’s authorized distribution methods. Your use or access to open source software or freeware included with the System Software is subject to additional terms and conditions set forth in the instruction manual or documentation for the PS3™ system or at http://www.scei.co.jp/ps3-license/index.html. Such additional terms are hereby incorporated by reference. You do not have any ownership rights or interests in the System Software. All intellectual property rights therein belong to SCE and its licensors, and all use or access to such System Software shall be subject to the terms of this Agreement and all applicable copyright and intellectual property laws. Except as expressly granted in this Agreement, SCE and its licensors reserve all rights, interests and remedies.
If SCE determines that you have violated the terms of this Agreement, SCE may take all actions to protect its interests, including denial of any services such as warranty services and repair services provided for your PS3™ system and termination of your access to PlayStation®Network, implementation of upgrades or devices intended to discontinue unauthorized use, or reliance on any other remedial efforts as reasonably necessary to prevent the use of a modified PS3™ system, or any pirated material or equipment. SCE and its licensors reserve the right to bring legal action in the event of a violation of this Agreement. SCE reserves the right to participate in any government or private legal action or investigation relating to your conduct.
Xbox 360 (Via Microsoft)
(a) The Software is licensed to You, not sold. You are licensed to use the Software only as pre-installed in Your Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory, and updated by Microsoft from time to time. You may not copy or reverse engineer the Software.
(b) As conditions to this Software license, You agree that:
(i) You will use only Authorized Accessories and Authorized Games with Your Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory. You will not use Unauthorized Accessories or Unauthorized Games. They may not work or may stop working permanently after a Software update.
(ii) You will not use or install any Unauthorized Software. If You do, Your Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory may stop working permanently at that time or after a later Software update.
(iii) You will not attempt to defeat or circumvent any Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory technical limitation, security, or anti-piracy system. If You do, Your Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory may stop working permanently at that time or after a later Software update.
(iv) Microsoft may use technical measures, including Software updates, to prevent use of Unauthorized Accessories and Unauthorized Games, and to protect the technical limitations, security, and anti-piracy systems in the Xbox 360 S or Authorized Accessory.
(v) Microsoft may update the Software from time to time without further notice to You, for example, to update any technical limitation, security, or anti-piracy system.
For all the complaining that goes 0n about users being banned or consoles being bricked or even someone being sued for making software available that directly violates these contracts between the corporations and the consumer, the rules are spelled out clearly enough. And yes, you agreed to these terms simply by using the system software on the console.
Now, Sony doesn’t just go after anyone who uses their PS3 for more than just gaming. In fact, the military has a supercomputer (The Condor Cluster) build from a matrix of 1,760 interconnected PS3 systems. I’m guessing they are not running the standard system software on Condor – and have probably been banned from PSN. <Grin>
I moved from PC gaming to console gaming which gave everyone the same platform – and I’m good with that – and I won’t be jacking around with my console in order to bypass anti-piracy measures – I’ll buy my games. It’s a small price to pay to be able to pop in a game, jump on-line and play with my friends without trying to out hack them or stay ahead game updates (the early days of Diablo II come to mind). I’ll stay operationally stock – but I wouldn’t be opposed to having this sick Iron Man Xbox 360.
All of my inset photos are of some fantastic gaming console case mods I have admired and chose to share with you. If you want to know more about any of the case mods pictured here, links to all of my sources are at the bottom of this post.