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The Xbox Live Banning Thread with FAQ

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reno.99999 avatar
Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 22:42
Please do NOT comment on this thread! Anything not covered by it can be answered via PM's or in the forums

Alot of questions still get asked about XBL, being banned from it and playing with backups online - what constitutes as safe to play and unsafe to play. I hope to address as many of those questions as possible.

Avoiding being banned from XBL is actually a very simple process, which often seems to get overlooked by people; It will also answer the majority of questions that seem to appear on torrent comments and in the forums.

How Does the Ban System Work?

Bans from XBL are not instantaneous. Microsoft tends to ban in waves of up to a 2 or 3 weeks at a time. They are unannounced, but often are around the time of a big console update or new releases, if not both. The last ban wave was in October/Nov 2008 - coinciding with the release of the NXE and several big releases at the time, namely Gears of War 2, Saints Row 2 etc.
This years again was in October/Nov 2009, probably to coincide with the slew of new releases such as CoD4 Modern Warfare 2 and the new dash features such as Sky and Facebook. Lots of bans due to the onslaught. The new firmware that will come out will be LT and it is supposed to work, when and where, no one know yet.

The wave system works on locating and banning 'flagged' consoles.

How does your console become flagged you ask? By playing games that do not match up to what Microsoft knows an original copy should digitally 'look' like. I'll cover how you can check this next.

How do you Check Your Games Against the Originals?

ABGX 1.0.1 is your best friend here.

For those that don't know, ABGX is a program that checks the game files of an Xbox 360 image file (.iso) against a database of verified rips of original games. This is very important (if not the most important thing) when trying to avoid being banned.

Here is a tutorial on running games through ABGX, both from an image file on your hard drive, and from a disc.

Step 1.

You need to load either the disc or the iso file into the program first of all, you can change between the two here

File(s) being for iso files on your HDD and Burned DVD for exactly that, a disc you have already burned. After selecting the location you can either navigate to your file, or select the DVD drive you wish to check the disc from.

Step 2.

Click the AutoFix tab, and in the drop down box change the level setting to level 3.

This will correct any errors where possible. You can save these settings in the Options tab so you don't have to set the AutoFix every time you load ABGX.

Step 3.

Click Launch (Note you must be connected to the internet at this point.)

That's it, as far as actual input is concerned. Now you have to analyze the data it gives you and make a decision about whether you want to burn/play the game. This isn't as complicated as it sounds.

Checking the Results

First things first, ABGX should check for a .dvd file, if there is one, it will check it and if it is incorrect or doesn't exist, it will create a new, correct one. The .dvd file is relatively important, if you don't know how to set the layerbreak in ImgBurn or whatever program you use, then you should always burn with the .dvd; A game burned with an incorrect layerbreak probably won't boot.

It will look something like this if you are checking from an iso:

If it's anything other than 1913760 when checking a disc, you might want to re-rip and burn it again with the correct one if it doesn't boot.

Next you will get a brief description of the game, such as the title, developers and number of achievements it has. Underneath that you will get another important piece of info - the games region info.

This doesn't have anything to do with being banned per say, but it does avoid alot of annoying questions later on if you have a problem.

ABGX will then go on to check the stealth files of the game. These are both very important and totally irrelevent. The stealth files of the game must match the data for the game exactly, otherwise Microsoft can detect that it isn't an original, this will get your console flagged, and it will be banned in the next wave, this is why they are important.

They are simaltaneous irrelevent though, due to the nature of the firmware that we use. From iXtreme 1.4 and upwards, an unstealthed game will not boot, so you can't get banned with it. So they have to be correct in order for it to be a working game, but if they are incorrect, you can't get banned with them, because you can't play the game.

ABGX will where possible fix any stealth files that are incorrect, if you are connected to the internet and set the AutoFix to level 3. Stealth errors are rarely a problem these days, but it does occasionally happen.

This section will also tell you the nature of the games 'wave'. Old games being Wave 1 and 2, new games (Pretty much everything after MLB09 and HAWX) being wave 3.

Next ABGX will check the Game CRC's (Cyclic Redundancy Check if you were wondering :p). This is possible the single most important part of the process, as it checks the parts of the game that actually make it a game.

When it all goes correctly it should look something like this:

As you can see, in the example everything came up green. This along with everything else passing is good news. It means that a disc or image that comes up like this is completely unrecognizable from the real thing, as far as Microsoft is concerned. You can play a game like that online, offline on any profile with no trouble whatsoever. Multiplayer, gaining achievements etc is all good to go.

And game that goes through this process and comes up looking that is perfectly fine.

Other ABGX Messages

ABGX will display a variety of other messages that I will now explain.

Bad Angle

This is quite a common error, even now, it's also a relatively minor one. It is only really a problem for people who are on a firmware below iXtreme 1.4, and if you're still on that, you've probably been banned already. People on iXtreme 1.4 and upwards do not need to worry about this, because the firmware automatically corrects it when you play the game.



The mother of all bad error messages. This means that the game files of the image file or DVD are corrupt, and do not match against the original. Playing a game that gives you this error will get your console flagged and banned. Again it isn't that common, but it does happen. Sometimes it is fixable, for example Guitar_Hero_III_USA_XBOX360-GUITAR has a Bad CRC, but a patch is available on the internet for download, which fixes the CRC errors, thus making it safe again. This isn't always the case though, so if you get this error, you're probably better off looking for an alternative rather than waiting for a fix to be released, that might never come.

Verification Failed (Yellow)

Probably the most common message in ABGX other than those associated with a game passing. It's actually not really an error as such, it just means that there is no copy of the game to check against, for whatever reason.
This is most commonly associated with games that have not been released yet. A game that hasn't been released simply will not be in the database. Keep checking it over a period of hours/days once it has been released, and chances are it will soon change to either a good or bad result.

AnyDVD Corruption

I couldn't actually find any pictorial examples of this in my games list, it's fairly uncommon. Though NHL 09 apparently has this. It's quite often fixable with a patch making the game safe to play. It should appear after checking the Game CRC's, if it says it has not been detected then you're good to go. If it comes up red mentioning this, then either wait for a patch or find an alternate release of the game.

Other Notable Ways to Get Banned

I'm not going to go into too much depth with these, they're pretty self explanatory.

New games are all Wave 3 due to the inclusion of the NXE on the disc, an as such will not play on firmwares below 1.51. If you patch a game in order to make it play on an older firmware, you will be flagged and banned, as the game files no longer match the originals.

Modified games. Not too many of these about, the most notable ones though are Guitar Hero games; A couple of people have created custom set lists for them, because of this the game files will not match the original, and you will be flagged and banned. GH games with the stock setlist are obviously exempted.

Grey Areas

XBox Originals - There is very little data concerning these and whether they will get your console flagged. It is possible that if they are patched correctly and burnt to a Dual Layer, that they are perfectly fine, but at the same time, it's possible that they are detectable my Microsoft and will get you flagged. I personally do not go near the things, but it's completely up to you.Obviously some rules still apply - if the files of the game have been modified from the original then it's asking for trouble, etc.

Reviewer Copies - I personally would avoid these like the plague. They are commonly held as being a big contributer to the banning waves - 2008's banning wave is widely attributed to 3 reviewer copies released by a group called SEED4ME (Saints Row 2, Fracture and Fallout 3.) Other than that, they aren't too common, a tell tale sign of a reviewer copy though, is it having no online functions, despite supposedly having them, as they are disabled.

Spoofing Drives - Apparently this can potentially lead to ban, though again it's a grey area like some other stuff, with no real evidence on it at the moment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. "If I play a game before the release date will I be banned?"
A. Yes and No. You will be banned if the game files do not match up to an original, not for playing it before the release date. You unfortunately cannot check them until it has been released though, so do so at your own risk.

Q. "When will X game be in the database?"
A. There isn't a set time or date after release for a game to go into the database, it's usually anything from the same day to a week after release.

Q. "Can I un-ban my console?"
A. No. Though apparently a new chip is being developed/has been developed that can do it, I'm yet to see any hard evidence on it though.

Q. "If I play not connected to XBL am I safe?"
A. No, infomation on games is stored on a chip on the motherboard, regardless of connectivity to the internet. If you play a bad copy, you're flagged and will be banned regardless of whether you where online or not at the time; As data is sent to Microsoft upon logging into XBL.

Q. "Is it in the database yet?"
A. Run it through ABGX and find out.

Q. "Is this region free?"
A. Run it through ABGX and find out.

Q. "Can I install a backup game to the Xbox HDD and play it?"
A. Yes, if the game passes in ABGX you can install it to the HDD with the NXE like you could an original without any fear of being banned.

Q. "If I patch a Wave 3 game to play on a firmware below iXtreme 1.51, will I be banned?"
A. Yes. The game files no longer match the originals, so the console will send a detectable bad response to Microsoft.

Q. "Are there going to be any more Wave 2 games?"
A. No, the NXE is now standard issue on 360 games, this is what makes it wave 3.

Q. "Why do some games still come out as wave 2 then?"
A. Because they went Gold (Ie the games were burnt by whatever company does it, ready to be shipped for retail) before the implemention of the NXE on disc. Everything that goes Gold after MLB09 and HAWX is Wave 3.

Q. "Can I be banned for playing an out of region game on my 360? (Ie NTSC game on a PAL console or vice versa).
A. The only way you can actually do that is if it's region free, which is perfectly fine if the game files match the original.

Q. "When is the next banning wave?."
A. No-one knows, so don't ask.

Q. "Am I safe if I play without my Hard Drive in or on another profile?"
A. Only if the game files are matching that of what is in the database, similarly to connectivity, this makes no odds whatsoever to being banned.



ABGX Release Info

ABGX Database Game List

*"Correcting false statements of the past...
Unplugging the network cable or disconnecting from XBL will not 100% protect you from the ban hammer!

It was discovered and confirmed well over a year ago that, while it performs a reduced number of checks (PFI, DMI, SS, Capacity, etc.) when not connected to XBL, the system does in fact record violations offline and has a mechanism for transmitting that data upon the next connection to XBL. This type of data is not stored on the HDD, but rather in non-volatile system memory (NVRAM). As such, for non-stealth discs, it's strongly recommended neither to play, nor even to have the disc sitting in the drive, when connected *or* offline from XBL. Disc checks are performed periodically even if you're just sitting in the dash/etc, and not actually playing the game. With the offline recording of system violations, even being disconnected from XBL or having your network cable unplugged doesn't serve as any form of ban-proofing.

That said, make sure your games are stealth-checked with abgx360!
Information compliments of MD, a direct associate of abgx360."


Right, so to anyone and everyone that says "Unplug the ethernet cable and you'll be fine'

You are wrong.

Playing offline can still get you banned.

Please do NOT comment on this thread! Anything not covered by it can be answered via PM's or in the forums

*** Thread via Riggy IPT thank you ***

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