Ten Xbox 360 Developer Kits stolen in Germany
Microsoft lost 10 top secret Xbox 360 developer kits from a warehouse in Düren, Germany. The developer kits arrived late August in unmarked packages together with other Microsoft products. The kits were destined for game developers to adapt their games to the new technology.
Only few days later pictures of stolen Xbox 360 developer kits surfaced on the internet. Both the Austrian federal police and the German public prosecutor’s office commenced investigations into the incidents.
In raids of homes and businesses in Austria and Germany, three of the prototype consoles were seized. The other seven are still missing.
Source: Spiegel (German)
The following image was found on German site, smartxx.com, apparently an Xbox mod chip manufacturer and seller.
Images of the Xbox 360 development consoles and electronic boards are viewable on their site. Several parts shown in the images have their serial numbers edited out, presumably to prevent tracking the origin of these images.
The smartxx.com site presents the above image in a news entry of Aug 28th, 2005. According to police reports, the consoles were stolen late August. Could these be pictures of some of the stolen kits?
It is clear that mod chip manufacturers would be very interested in getting their hands on the Xbox 360 hardware early. It is conceivable that the development consoles have little if any obfuscation or other protection methods in place to stop re-engineering certain aspects of the hardware.
J Allard, Xbox Chief Executive, in a recent interview posted at Gamespot, acknowledged the Xbox 360′s vulnerability to hacking.
“We do know that they’re already being very ambitious with it and it’s flattering in a way. [...] There will be the hobbyists that want to rip it apart. There’ll still be the pirates that want to rip it off. We can’t avoid that. The philosophy that we applied on 360 is, “It’s going to happen.”"
J Allard expressed more concern about effects that hacking could have on the Xbox Live experience than with the loss of revenue caused by pirates:
“If we lose 5% of our revenue, that’s bad. [...] But if Xbox Live gets distorted and destroyed because of three or four bad people that just want to have a grudge against Microsoft or somebody that they’re playing against; that just want to ruin and wreak havoc on Live, that would really suck. That’s what we’re more sensitive to than the money.”
In Europe including Germany, the Xbox 360 console is to be released on Dec 2nd. If pirates got hold of the developer kits in August, they may have gotten quite a head start.
It is becoming clearer that the near simultaneous world-wide release of the Xbox 360 may initially create shortages, even though some countries have been excluded from the world-wide release – a move designed to ease the burden in producing sufficient consoles for the countries that are included in the pre-Christmas release.
For instance, in Australia gamers are not getting the Xbox 360 this holiday season but have to wait until Spring 2006. With Sony recently losing the mod-chip battle in the Australian High Court, Microsoft may look at the Australian market with some suspicion. When the Xbox 360 will be released in Australia, hackers will have had 6 months time to familiarize themselves with the new hardware.
Update Oct 9, 2005: SmartXX responds to allegations
By Staff, Xb360info.com