MS blames ‘software issue’ for unjust Xbox bans

Microsoft is apologizing for banning numerous Xbox Live accounts because they were inaccurately flagged for illegal activity.

In a blog post, Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement head Stephen Toulouse explained that sometimes, as a shortcut to actually investigating users before they are banned, “We use software features on the Xbox itself to help us take action.”

But recently, those software features didn’t work quite so well. Between August 29 and September 9, something went screwy and a handful of Xbox Live users were outright banned from the service with no real explanation as to why.

During this time period, many more accounts were justifiably banned, but that doesn’t cushion the blow at all for those who were caught in the mixup.

“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,” Toulouse said.

Users who were affected will receive three free months of Xbox Live Gold as well as a credit for 1600 Microsoft Points ($20).

Microsoft has a controversial history of liberally banning Xbox Live accounts. A couple notable cases include a man who lost his account because he wrote “Fort Gay, WV” as his publicly displayed location (which is his actual hometown), and a mentally challenged kid who accidentally downloaded illegitimate gamerscore-growing cheats.

“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,” Toulouse said.