A user of the Nintendo Entertainment System was stunned to find his modified console would no longer load bootleg software following a global crackdown on game pirates. This incident comes just days after a mass Xbox 360 banning by Microsoft made headlines.
James Kirkland said his NES, purchased in 1986, would no longer load his favorite game, Bible Adventures. He took the system to a licensed Nintendo repair center. It was there that Nintendo took action against his illicit machine.
“Usually blowing on the cartridge for a good half hour gets them to load, but not this time,” Kirkland said. “The technician said, ‘why are you bringing me this NES? No one plays this trash anymore.’ Then he threw it on the ground, and it shattered. That old plastic was pretty brittle. I firmly believe he destroyed it because he noticed the mod I installed back in ’92.”
It is unclear why Nintendo decided that 2009, nearly 25 years since the system’s original release, is a good year to thwart pirates.
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime denied that the company was targeting modified NES systems for destruction. “Do you even know how much money we’ve made from Wii?” he said.
This incident comes just days after Microsoft banned about 1 million Xbox 360 machines for being altered to play pirated software. Though the consoles can still play games in offline mode, players cannot connect to the Xbox Live gaming service.
A silver lining of sorts, the banning from Xbox Live will save affected gamers the service’s annual subscription fee of $50 MSRP.
“I was kind of upset that I couldn’t get online to play Modern Warfare 2,” said Chet Barkovla, an avid Xbox online gamer impacted by the ban. “But, now that my 360 is banned from Live, I’ll just use my PS3. Their online multiplayer is free, at least.”
Beyond playing pirated games, an Xbox spokesman could not provide any reason why owners would want to modify their systems.
“Who would want to upgrade their Xbox 360 hard drive, for example, with another brand when the official Microsoft version provides such a great value?” the spokesman said. “We charge $150 for a 120 GB hard drive. Sure, a 500 GB Western Digital drive might only cost $87, but we put ours in that neat little removable case thing. And we affix the Xbox 360 logo to it. That’ll cost a good $50 right there.”
Microsoft has also taken criticism for charging $100 for an Xbox 360-branded Wi-Fi adapter. Similar USB dongle adapters for laptops cost about $20. A rechargeable battery pack for Xbox 360 wireless controllers run about $20.
Kirkland maintains that Nintendo purposely destroyed the system and said he is seeking reimbursement from the Kyoto, Japan, company. So far the Nintendo has failed to compensate him fairly. “The repair guy tried to give me $5, which is probably more than the console is worth,” he said. “But it’s the memories that matter. And that’s gonna cost him at least another $10.”