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Xbox To Use Region-Locked Peripherals 337

Cutriss writes "This newspost over at National Console Supply Exchange seems to leave all the potential Xbox controller-importers in the dust. Apparently the US Xbox will only allow peripherals with a specific USB ID to connect to the console, thus locking out the use of Japanese controllers, which will have different USB IDs." Update this doesn't mean all peripherals will be region encoded. Apparently Joypads will work on both sides of the pond.
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Xbox To Use Region-Locked Peripherals

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  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FortKnox ( 169099 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:54PM (#3039816) Homepage Journal
    Playstation made it so you couldn't play japanese playstation games.

    I don't see the big deal, here. If Japan wants to sell controlers, they'll make them with the appropriate "US" USB settings.

    Or people will make an adapter, like the modchip.
    • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FortKnox ( 169099 )
      BTW - notice all the MS bashing already.
      Would you think differently if it was Sony? Nintendo?
    • Really. Someone's going to make a USB passthru that mangles the USB ID on the way out.
    • Re:So? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ddstreet ( 49825 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:08PM (#3039940) Homepage
      If Japan wants to sell controlers, they'll make them with the appropriate "US" USB settings.

      USB vendor/product ID has nothing at all to do with "US" USB settings, in fact the only country-specific part of the USB spec is the String (descriptors) which have a lang id [].

      If the X-Box is discriminating based on USB IDs, it is locking out certain Vendors or certain Vendor's products. Most likely they are locking out certain vendors, as the product ID is really up to the Vendor; the Vendor ID is assigned by the USB-IF [].

    • "Playstation made it so you couldn't play japanese playstation games."

      And as far as I know this has yet to be tested in court. This is right on up there with region coding on DVDs and may violate trade treaties the same way.

      Of course, at least in the US it's still legal to mod your hardware to accept foreign software.

      "I don't see the big deal, here. If Japan wants to sell controlers, they'll make them with the appropriate "US" USB"

      Without even getting into whether they could or not, should they have to?
  • by David Frankenstein ( 21337 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:55PM (#3039826)
    * Addendum at 02:28PM EST *
    A lot of e-mails have poured in from other sources and developers these past few hours. A call from an Microsoft employee also came in. The Japanese X-Box joypad should work with USA consoles. We'll confirm this tonight once our suppliers test the joypad with some USA games we shipped them earlier this week. If all is well, then our shipments of Japanese X-Box joypads won't go to waste after all.
  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:56PM (#3039840) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft will be installing QuarterSlots(TM) into their controllers, to make sure that the players have actually bought the controllers and USB keys legally.

    "It isn't fair!" claimed Joey, who says that "Mom wont even give me fifty cents for a game on the X-Box", even after he bought it with his "christmas money".

    Microsoft will be handing out the controllers free, but will be requiring that they be brought back into the stores to empty out the quarters that have been filled inside. A microsoft spokesperson commented: "Hell, 50 bucks of change a day gets heavy, you know. You wouldn't want to hold that in your hand, would you? See, we're just making it easier on the consumer!"
  • If all it is is a certain USB ID, wouldn't you just need some kind of USB male-female cord and a small convertor that changes the ID as it goes through?
    $10 says that the import shops are already working on this.
    The only good use I would see for this feature is locking out unauthorized perhipherals, especially some that might damage the machine.
    But the more paranoid of us probably think it's another monopoly move from the Beast. Which it may well be.
    • If it's got the USB logo on it, then surely it should be able to cope with being connected to any other USB device? Just like only CDs conforming to ISO9660 are allowed to have the CD Digital Audio logo on them. Thinking about it that way makes it seem more like a monopoly move.
  • by M-2 ( 41459 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:56PM (#3039845) Homepage
    but is there a SANE reason for not allowing the use of these imported controllers?

    Other than "A Machine We Control Totally", that is.

    Is there some kind of incredible controller for the Xbox that is only available in Japan (as the original response controllers for the PSX were)? So that Microsoft doesn't want people to have them because of some other kind of interesting occurance? And how long until someone either finds a way to change the USB ID in the controller firmware, or an enterprising company decides to make their own US-based USB ID controllers that match a local controller that isn't USian? Fairly soon, I would guess.
    • by FauxPasIII ( 75900 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:17PM (#3040005)
      > but is there a SANE reason for not allowing the use of these imported controllers?

      Only for suitable definitions of sane. The idea of all region locks is that you can charge what each individual market will bear for a product, without worrying that import from a lower-priced region will force you to drop your prices in a more rich region. Classic example, India is poor so DVDs are sold with a much lower markup there, but DVD/CCA/MPAA can't have people importing cheap Indian DVDs and reselling them in the US where the markup is much, much higher. So, they make them incompatible.

      In case this sounds ridiculous, it might help to know that it's also illegal in many parts of the world. Australia and the EU are both invsestigating DVD region codes. Google for 'price discrimination', 'market segmentation', or 'price fixing' for all the info you care to absorb.
      • I'm aware of the various region-coding issues (being both the owner of an Apex AD-600 DVD player and the Japanese release of 'Mononoke Hime' on DVD - a most excellent set, three DVDs, much subbing and dubbing and extra goodness). I also was aware of Australia, but didn't know about the EU.

        I wonder if companies could successfully file issues with the World Trade Organization to indicate that regionlocks could be considered a 'restraint of trade' issue. There's an idea for someone with deep pockets.....
      • I don't think this is about cheap knockoffs at all. It is about control. If Japan can produce something that isn't offered here, why not allow it? It isn't the same as DVDs. Region encoding is so that people in one country cannot view DVDs before they are released in that country, but eventually they will be released. The companies want to CONTROL the release of them. For game consoles it is different, they want to CONTROL what you use, not because they are going to offer the same thing at a higher price, they simply are not going to offer it. That is what makes no sense. They want to make sure that you aren't able to get a better product than what you are offering, so you have no choice but to buy theirs.
      • If you remove the ability to region lock, then many companies will probably cease to sell their products in the poorer countries. The end result is that importation would probably slow down as well, since new laws would have to be created to stop the flood of low-cost knockoffs from outside the U.S. (note: I say U.S. because we are the biggest damn consumer as well as producer/marketer in the world). Patent laws would still prevent those products from being made in the poor countries (like they respect patent laws anyway) and so the availability will drop.

        This is pretty bad news for world trade and may lead to less trade between countries in the long run. Some are going to see this as a good thing (the anti-globalism people), but it can eventually lead to a lot of bad things as well, including increased tariffs and lower profits all around.

        The third-world countries won't be affected too much by all this (they ignore the patent laws anyway and have a burgeoning black market in knockoffs), but the first-world countries are gonna suck it up ... bad.
        • Do you really think it would be a bad thing for, say, India if they never see an Xbox, GC or PS2? There are useful computer systems that increase the average knowledge and communication in a community, then there are video games. (This from someone not sitting 5m from 10 video games consoles.)
    • " an enterprising company decides to make their own US-based USB ID controllers that match a local controller that isn't USian "

      That will destroy what the USB ID is meant to achieve: A way to discriminate between devices. And if this happens a lot, people writing device drivers will have to care about incompatabilities between different physical devices with the same ID.

      This has the potential to hit linux, if some of this devices are used on regular PCs.

      Thanx Micro$oft.

  • by synx ( 29979 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:57PM (#3039852)
    But I'm not very keen into it. I wonder if this kind of thing will slip over into the PC world? I somehow doubt it since most hardware companies are interested in selling to the max number of customers (think motherboard mfrs like Asus).

    Locked hardware is almost criminal. Unfortunately we're all boned.
  • Simple Answer... (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Myriad ( 89793 ) <myriad.thebsod@com> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:57PM (#3039855) Homepage
    Just don't buy products (in this case an X-Box) that have this sort of "feature".

    I know you may want one, but the only way to get companies to stop doing this kind of thing is to vote with your wallet. Otherwise, where is their insentive?

  • XBOX != PC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Amarok.Org ( 514102 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @04:59PM (#3039871)
    The XBOX is a game *console*. It's perfectly reasonable to maintain a closed standard. What MS is trying to do is make sure they get their licensing fees from "official" peripheral manufacturers, instead of having their profits dried up by cheap Taiwanese knockoffs.

    When another company does things to try and protect their market share, it's reasonable. When Microsoft does it, it's inherently evil. Remember, Microsoft does *NOT* have a monopoly on the console market, and has to claw it's way into contention.

    I'm not a Microsoft fan by any means (MacOS, MacOS X, and Linux all run my household servers/desktops), but I do own an XBox.

    • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Hormonal ( 304038 )
      That's a good point. Microsoft is also extremely brand-conscious (security is another story...), and they may be doing this in order to keep from diluting their brand.

      I don't like Microsoft either, and I'd rather be dipped in boiling almond oil than pay money for their space-heater-that-plugs-into-your-tv, but they may have reasons for doing this, other than iron-fisted control over the console and cashflow.

      (I know this post is a little at odds with my previous post, but I hadn't read this comment when I posted originally. I think this decision may have been driven by all of the factors people are speculating on, and I still hope that the update to the site in question proves to be accurate.)

    • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wateshay ( 122749 ) <> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:17PM (#3040011) Homepage Journal
      I have absolutely no problem with them doing this. The problem I have is if they want legal protection to allow them to protect this revenue stream. It should be perfectly legal to create a USB pass-through that modifies the region coding on a device in order to allow non-region devices to work. This is the same issue as with DVD. I don't care if DVD manufacturers want to put region coding on the DVD, but if I figure out a way to defeat that region coding, that should be perfectly legal.
      • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bnenning ( 58349 )
        Bingo. This perfectly illustrates the fundamental unfairness of the DMCA and similar abusive laws. Vendors are allowed to use technology to impose restraints above and beyond what copyright provides for, while users are forbidden from using technology to remove those restraints. In a real free market, any attempt at market segmentation via region coding would swiftly fail; yet the US and other governments have deemed it necessary to use their guns to prop up otherwise unworkable business models.
      • Two points about copy protection:

        1.) It prevents people from making backups of works which they purchased for the purpose of preserving their investment. You really should have the right install/run your software from a backup copy and and keep your master copy locked away in your firesafe.

        2.) Their should be encouragement to preserve these works (some of them, anyway) for the future, especially since we haven't established the life span of these new media.

        On top of this, increases in copyright duration, can remove the incentive to preserve a work for long enough to enter the public domain (so more stuff gets lost forever).

    • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angst Badger ( 8636 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:18PM (#3040015)
      The XBOX is a game *console*. It's perfectly reasonable to maintain a closed standard.

      Oh hooey! This is exactly the same as if a fork manufacturer tried to restrict the brands of pork chops you were allowed to stick it into. Selling a product entitles you to be paid for the product; it does not magically grant you additional rights to dictate to third parties how to conduct their business. That's called an "anticompetitive practice", and the current administration notwithstanding, it's illegal.

      Of course, the laws are written for and interpreted by people who are paid by the people who want the laws in the first place, so it's rather academic, but still...

      • Hm... and if you don't need a license to operate a fork, why should you be required to have a license to operate a car? And what's with all this rental stuff -- let me pay rent once and KEEP the dang apartment; after all I only have to pay once for a fork! ;)

        (Cowering in fear of the "Flamebait" mederators...)
        • Hm... and if you don't need a license to operate a fork, why should you be required to have a license to operate a car?

          What? I need a licence to operate an XBox? When did that happen?

          And what's with all this rental stuff -- let me pay rent once and KEEP the dang apartment; after all I only have to pay once for a fork! ;)

          You want to rent a fork? I can rent one to you for a monthy fee of 10% of the retail cost, plus first and last month's rent, and a security deposit. If you stop paying, I'll take it back and take any money you owe and damages out of your deposits.

          Neither of these arguments has any relevence to the XBox. Yes, some of the words are the same (licence, pay, etc.), but the context is completely different.

          You rent an apartment, you buy an Xbox. If I want to trash the apartment, the landlord has the right to keep my security deposit. I don't own it. If I trash my XBox... No one has any recourse for my actions. It [is/should be] mine to do with as I please.

          (Cowering in fear of the "Flamebait" mederators...)

          Personally I think you should cower in fear of the "Overrated" moderators.
    • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:4, Insightful)

      by theridersofrohan ( 241712 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:25PM (#3040067) Homepage
      The XBOX is a game *console*. It's perfectly reasonable to maintain a closed standard. What MS is trying to do is make sure they get their licensing fees from "official" peripheral manufacturers, instead of having their profits dried up by cheap Taiwanese knockoffs.

      Yes the XBOX is a marketed as console (although, as you and I know, it's suspiciously close to a PC). It is, however, the only console to disallow importing peripherals. A joypad bought in Japan is not any less official than one bought in the UK, the USA etc. And what makes you think for that matter that "cheap Taiwanese knockoffs" will not create "cheap joystick knowoffs" with US USB ids?

      This is a good example of Microsoft trying to totally control their livingroom PC...

      • It is, however, the only console to disallow importing peripherals
        Didn't the US Dreamcast lock out the Japanese light gun somehow?
      • A) There are already "cheap joypad nockoffs" that are perfectly legal that you can buy at Best Buy for $20-30.

        B) Playstation 2 has region encoding on it's games.
    • Didn't Nintendo try to do this with preventing of "unauthorized" game makers making NES games? Didn't help much. There are tons upon tons of NES games that are horrible with the NES Seal of Approval, usually seen at the bottom-right of the box.
    • This has nothing to do with cheap Taiwanese knockoffs. This has to do with Microsoft making a different, smaller controller exclusively for the Japanese market (one that would obstensibly be more comfortable for some of us) ... and now giving us no way to import this OFFICIAL controller. THAT is why people are upset.

      I do hope that this turns out to be bunk, some made up fanboy rumor based off spec sheets that they didn't understand.

      Like most rumors.
    • The uproar doesn't come because MS was apparently trying to lock out "cheap Taiwainese knockoffs" (not to mention high-quality Japanese third-parties like Ascii), the uproar was over the possibility that American software was required by Microsoft to ignore the USB IDs of Japanese controllers, made by Microsoft or not.

      If this is actually the case (I find it doubtful that even MS could be so stupid as to discriminate against such a harmless practice as importing a controller), it is the first time that _any_ console manufacturer has ever intentionally region-locked a controller. Nintendo, Sega, and Sony have never done this (good thing...playing fighting games on my Dreamcast and Playstation would be infinitely less fun without the loose d-pad and firm buttons on my Capcom and SNK Ascii FT pads).

      < tofuhead >

    • Remember, Microsoft does *NOT* have a monopoly on the console market, and has to claw it's way into contention.

      However, they are using a version of its monopoly OS inside this console. I would argue that the XBox therefore should be placed under the same anti-trust restrictions as anything else having to do with their monopoly. They are levereging their monopoly to extend into a new market. If this controller story is true, they are using the controllers to protect their attempt to extend their monopoly.

      Putting Windows in the XBox gives them a huge licensing cost advantage, lowers the bar for porting PC games, and raises the bar for competitors in the console market.

      If they want the XBox to be free of anti-trust restrictions, that would be fine, and they could do whatever they want to annoy their customers. However, to do this they would have to develop a new OS for the console that has nothing to do with Windows, or buy an OS from another vendor.

    • Its NOT a closed standard. Its a very much open standard PC built from off-the-shelf parts using the open PC hardware standards. It just happns to be that Microsoft is now treating it as a closed system. It seems like Microsoft is trying to bend the standards to what suits them, that is collecting a royaly on anything that could work with their product. We've seen them do this before many times (Kerbos, Java, HTML, XML, ad infium).
      • (Kerbos, Java, HTML, XML, ad infium).

        I thought the idea was that anyone could make their own extensions to it? Hence the "eXtensible" Markup Language. The other things were most definitely abused, as is their monopolistic position in the PC/Console crossbread market.
    • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:50PM (#3040277) Homepage
      When another company does things to try and protect their market share, it's reasonable. When Microsoft does it, it's inherently evil. Remember, Microsoft does *NOT* have a monopoly on the console market, and has to claw it's way into contention.

      Oh, that's right. I remember all those posts along the lines of "God bless Nintendo for using proprietary DVD technology to lock out unlicensed 3rd party developers!" I myself have written ballads in praise of Cisco for breaking compatability with other company's routers. And don't forget the kick-ass /. party we had to celebrate the brilliance of Intel making a proprietary slot connector for their CPUs to lock out clones! At least I assume it was kick-ass... I can't remember a thing about it!

      Or maybe it's because it didn't happen.

      Nice try, but if you want hypocrisy, you'll have to search for it somewhere else. Go check any other article where someone has tried to lock in their market share by locking -out- competitors, and you'll find the only people who thought it was okay -then- are the ones who are saying it's okay for MS to do -now-... Like you.

      • Re:XBOX != PC (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Did somebody say Apple?
        • Well, I don't like Apple myself. And I really didn't think anyone else liked their practice of not allowing 3rd party OEMs. If so, well, consider yourself (+1, insightful).

    • "The XBOX is a game *console*."

      For now.

      Microsoft has figured out a way figure out allowable USB devices and those that aren't allowed. If Microsoft brought this feature over to their Windows softwre, things could get interesting. The first thing that comes to mind is that Microsoft now has a big stick to enforce driver signing requirements. If you don't play along (ie. make drivers for non-Windows OSes), Windows will forever identify your hardware as a possible security risk (and possibly take action because of it).
    • The XBOX is a game *console*

      So if i made up a nice-looking box containing a pentium x processor, some RD RAM, a standard hard disk with my own variation of ReiserFS or something, and a customised mainboard with built-in high-spec video and a standard USB host controller, removed the PS/2 mouse and keyboard connectors, and installed a weird version of Windows (take your pick), i could sell it as a console? It's a cross between a console and a PC I would say. Show me another device like that and I'll accept that MS doesn't have 100^% of the market share.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    .. that if you try and make an import controller work with an American XBOX you can no doubt be sued under the DMCA for circumvention of the lockout.

    gg Microsoft

    • I may be wrong, but I don't think the Digital Millenium Copyright Act covers hardware interfaces. By building a competitive controller, you are not in any way endangering Microsoft's total control of its copyrighted property -- i.e., the game. You can't put a copyright on a hardware interface since it is not an intellectual "work." It might be intellectual property, but it isn't covered by copyright law (correct me if I'm wrong).

      In fact, by building a competitive controller you are going up against another company in an effort to produce the best product -- this is the basis of capitalism. Microsoft is again executing monopolist strategy, but this time it's a little confusing -- what does Microsoft really have to lose by allowing others to manufacture game controllers? Is the game controller sector really a huge source of MS income? Highly doubt it...

  • well, I might get flamebaited for this, but here we go....

    If Linux did the same sort of thing to MS, people would laud Linux for taking a stand against MS.

    Well, MS is taking a stand against foreign competition in their controller market. Big deal, other than the oh so conspicuous fact that it's MS doing it.

    No matter what your take on MS, remember, they are a business, and it MAKES BUSINESS sense for them to do this.

    One good thing from all this, I believe this will drive the prices down for individual controllers for the X-box, which is a good thing.
    • Just curious, but why do you think it will drive the prices DOWN? I think it would drive it up. After all, if a company wants to legally make an MS compatible controller, they will have to pay the necessary licensing fees in order to have their USB controller work. Since that is the case, you may have only a few companies selling controllers- less market means more demand, which means mo money! :(

      I'm guessing the prices for controllers will be higher rather than lower.
      • "Just curious, but why do you think it will drive the prices DOWN?"

        Well, my reasoning goes something like this:

        MS would be stupid to charge an outrageous price for a spare controller in a market which they "own". The reason I say this is because if they do, then more and more people will look to alternatives, which will in turn decrease sales of MS's controller. So, by lowering prices, they effectively make it not worth hacking.

        That's my reasoning, but it's been a long day, so please take it for what it's worth ;-)
    • If linux did something like this to microsoft? could you explain how the entity Linux could do anything to M$, much less proprietarize itself to discriminate against hardware not licensed from this entity "Linux" of which you speak?
      The controllers are disguised USB. As such, while M$ is within their legal rights to include whatever non-standard "features" like differently shaped plugs and occlusion of ranges of USB id's, other companies are also within their rights to make interoperable products without paying royalties if they can impliment in an informationally "clean" environmentn (somewhat easy given that its USB).
      I hope I'm not casting pearls before trolls, but I have a feeling I am:)
    • What!? That's ludicrous. Why would 'Linux' ever do that?

      The obvious point here is that Linux is software and the Xbox is hardware. And rather than stopping MS software running on Linux systems the community is actively developing software to allow it (think WINE.)

      Or if you were talking about locking out hardware... what!? MS hardware has got quite a good reputation, and rather than lauding such a move, there would be lots of pissed-off Linux users with useless hardware.

      I think you're just karma-whoring with the flamebait comment as a bit of reverse psychology.
      • my karma at the time of this posting is 50, thank you very much. I don't whore, I give an opinion. My comment on Linux versus MS is that if the role was reversed, and some company everyone LIKED did this, it wouldn't recieve any comment what so ever, but since it's MS, it's oh so horrible. thanks for sharing.
        • my karma at the time of this posting is 50, thank you very much. I don't whore, I give an opinion. My comment on Linux versus MS is that if the role was reversed, and some company everyone LIKED did this, it wouldn't recieve any comment what so ever, but since it's MS, it's oh so horrible. thanks for sharing.

          But of course that's so groundless as to warrant the adjective "retarded". Or, more accurately, "really, really retarded, not to mention completely imaginary".

          The reason no one likes MS is beacuse of this kind of thing. The reason we like companies is because they don't do things like this. If a company we liked did this, we'd probably start not-liking them. Point your eyeballs at the google story and how many people were ready to turn on google based on the baseless suggestion that they would be altering their search results based on sponsorship.

    • No matter what your take on MS, remember, they are a business, and it MAKES BUSINESS sense for them to do this.

      Incorrect, my friend. Many things that make 'business sense' are unethical. It makes good 'business sense' to exploit overseas sweatshop labor to lower manufacturing costs. But that's certainly not ethical.
  • But the USB ID of a device is spat out by (usually) a little chip on the device. Couldn't controller manufacturers build two of the chips onto the board along with a switch to change between them? Why is this such a big deal?
  • Not true. (Score:5, Informative)

    by drfrank ( 16371 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:02PM (#3039895)
    First hand account. Japanese controller works with US Xbox.
    • Re:Not true. (Score:2, Informative)

      by MikeyNg ( 88437 )

      First hand account. Japanese controller works with US Xbox.

      That's interesting, considering the Japanese release for the X-Box is not until 2/22, which puts it at least a day away. Of course, you could have gotten early access to the peripherals, but forgive me if I'm a bit skeptical.

  • What's the point? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qa'lth ( 216840 )
    Is there even a purpose to doing this? The people who would normally be buying import stuff will just buy a $5 converter to use the peripherals they lock out, and the people who don't import controllers won't have a problem, since it doesn't affect them.

    Chock this one up to 'annoying the community'.
  • No, I think this was just a "bug fix" and will become the standard in "Microsoft X-Box for Workgroups," due out next year.
  • Change USB ID (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:06PM (#3039925)
    QTools allows you to modify the ID of USB devices. This has been used for a while to get non-3Com USB ethernet devices to work with the 3Com Audreys that 3Com created and dropped last year. - look for qttoolsinstall.exe
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Neuracnu Coyote ( 11764 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:07PM (#3039930) Homepage Journal
    So you're telling me that the new japanese PleasureVibe erotic force-feedback controller I got off Ebay won't work when I get shot on Halo? God damn that Microsoft...
    • Of course not. It would directly compete with the unit they've designed to aide the home user in understanding their Windows and Office licensing schemes.

  • If this is true, then we'll start seeing controllers with a user-selectable USB ID. Or just some software patch that will disable or work around the checks. On the PSX you can get an unlicensed yet professionally pressed disc that allows you to boot import games and copies without a modchip. Some asian pseudo-piracy company will simply produce a dvd-based XBox mod that will do whatever the users are willing to pay for.
  • US only USB IDs (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chibitoku ( 553688 )
    Um, since USB ciructs are easy to program for, has anyone thought about using a USB hub on a linux box to gather packets from the "illegal" controller ,spoof the ID, and send the packets on to the XBOX and vice versa?

    Just my two cents... ^_^
    • Re:US only USB IDs (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pclminion ( 145572 )
      It could be even easier, I think. Couldn't you just build a little widget that sits between the controller and the X-Box that rewrites the USB ID on each packet that goes through? Such a device could be mass-produced for pennies...

      Any people who are more familiar with USB than I am? Is this a feasible idea?

  • Aside from staggering releases why would you want to do this? It only makes preservation of the content more difficult. Doesn't region encoding things fly in the face of the entire "global economy" concept? I never have understood why movie and software companies go out of their way to make an international market difficult, impossible, or possibly even illegal. Any insight?
  • Amazing. I remember when they told us the CPUID number would not be a big deal. But others coutered it would.

    Now they have done it with USB. This looks like arbitrary restriction, and I can't see why it should be allowed. We really need a strong tech department within the US government to monitor the anti-competitive use of technological advancements.

    Of course, lets be sure that department is not the take too...
  • Coming Soon... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jazman_777 ( 44742 )
    You will have to pass a political orthodoxy test to get past the boot screen.

    Q: What is the role of the US DOJ?
    A: A) To promote and smooth the growth of large multinationals; B) To ensure the destruction of subversive whacko religious groups; C)To cuddle up in the Executive's lap and purr contentedly; D) All of the above.

  • by syzxys ( 557810 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:17PM (#3040007)

    Xbox To Use Region-Locked Peripherals

    True, maybe the Japanese controllers will work with the MS consoles, but we need to look beyond the immediate future here.

    Hmm, let's think here...

    1. MS (rumored to be) using region locking, *in the context of*
    2. the well-known DVD region fiasco, equals...

    Well, at any rate, it sure makes me nervous. Think about when they start selling region-locked Ethernet, or region locked hard drives, etc. add-ons for the Xbox. Region locking in general is a way for large companies to restrain trade contrary to international agreements. It was never a problem before recently because either (a) nobody thought of it (doubtful) or (b) the technological means to do it weren't around until recently.

    DVD's have recently proven (in some people's minds, anyway) that "consumers" (if we're all consumers, who the hell is producing, btw?) will put up with this region locking restraint of trade nonsense. And it's a well known fact that the courts are so far behind in their understanding of technology that they won't figure out what's going on until nobody even remembers the way things used to be. I mean, "Microsoft" and "restraint of trade" -- who would have ever thought of those two words in the same sentence? :-) IOW, this doesn't surprise me in the least.

    At least I know which gaming console I won't be buying anytime soon, though! :-)

    Have you crashed Windows XP with a simple printf recently? Try it! []
    • Restraint of trade is exactly the issue here. Region coding is the best example of an "agreement, combination, or conspiracy in restraint of trade" I have ever heard of! It does need to be stopped before the kind of crap you describe, though I am skeptical that region-locked ethernet etc. could ever work in the market.

      Fortunately some countries (e.g. New Zealand) have already banned it.

  • by Apreche ( 239272 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:21PM (#3040030) Homepage Journal
    This is perfectly fine if you think about cheap knockoffs that don't give Microsoft Licensing fees. But I think about my PSX with Dance Dance Revolution. Obscure peripherals like dance pads, light guns (nowadays), etc. Might be produced in Japan and not in the US, meaning XBox owners won't be able to play some games with the peripherals they desire. If this happens however, I guarantee a mod-chip inside of a couple months. And a perfect mod chip inside of 6.
    • Unlicensed peripherals have been a thriving business for years for manufacturers like InterAct, Mad Catz, Nuby, Redant, Innovation, and countless others. Nintendo, Sega, and Sony have never had a problem with them; they just endorse licensed peripherals and allow licensees to use the Nintendo/Sega/etc. logo in their advertising and packaging. Call Nintendo about the GBA, and they will direct you to the Sun Seibu Light Boy Advance light, not the Shark Light or Worm Light or whatever. They just ignore the unlicensed third parties, because they're not doing anything illegal or particularly harmful to the console manufacturers' businesses.

      For MS to counter this trend (by enforcing their license and discriminating against unlicensed hardware) would be a first. Region discrimination on software is one thing. License discrimination on software is another. But region and license discrimination on peripheral hardware makes little business sense to me. If they've set up mechanisms by which this could happen, they'd be foolish to implement them. I doubt that they would have, though.

      < tofuhead >

  • I'm sure the entire planet is starting to resent being chained and restricted to regions due to marketing enviornments. Have we really come to the point where we will let marketing and sales dictate what we can and can not do?

    I guess so.

    I'd like a ticket off this rock now please.

  • > Update: this doesn't mean all peripherals will be
    > region encoded. Apparently Joypads will work on
    > both sides of the pond.

    I'm sorry, I thought "the pond" generally was understood to mean the Atlantic, as in, "Tea at 5? Sure, I'll just jump in my Concorde and jump 'cross the pond." So do you mean joypads (or are "Joypads" and "joypads" different pond-jumping beasts?) can be imported to the US from the UK and the rest of the EU but not Japan? Horribly confusing.

    And yes, for your crazy peeps down under, the subject meant to say "Isn't the pond on our left?"
  • by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @05:41PM (#3040191) Homepage
    After all, it's no longer "Universal", is it? Perhaps it could be called RSB, for "Regional Serial Bus", or perhaps NSB for "National Serial Bus".

    Seriously, I can only see one or two reasons why someone would want to implement this region locking:

    First, I doubt a domestic company would want to take tech support calls for foreign-made equipment. And, yes, you know some clueless fool will call MS up, waste their time, bitching about why his Far East ContollerPad isn't working. Worse, perhaps they aren't tested to similar standards and could pose a threat to the Xbox. Who knows?

    Second, and this is the more insidious one, they might do this because of internal competition, the same reason DVD region locking is used. Regional branches of the same company making the same product may have wildly divergent pricing and release schedules. Since Asia usually gets the cool toys first, the North American division wants to protect its turf by preventing imports of the Asian goods until they can get around to marketing the product domestically. While that makes good business sense, it's typically used to hide a serious case of "head up the ass" when the domestic vendor is slow to put out new products.

  • Did anyone think that the whole reason why people are buying alternate Xbox controllers is because they are so unwieldy and large that it could crush a small child under the sheer weight of it?

    Its really a safety concern when you think about it... :)

    That someone is trying to restrict an individual's safety by blocking overseas sales, well, then, I say, "Yo Ho HO! Avast ye mateys! Come and get me, Customs! ARRRRRGGGGHHH!"
  • Really. Big deal. It'd take me a couple of days to have a functioning USB vendor ID "filter/remapper" device functioning with a PIC and a USB chip. Total cost in parts, about $20.

    Open source it, open source the hardware, put it on the web for Taiwanese mfr's to make freely at their own will and bundle with any cheap XBox peripherals they choose.

    This sort of region locking is just stupid.
  • ...then switch over to protectionism.
    Seems that nowadays this is the only method of keeping competitors out of reach.
    In the good ole times there were the innovators and inventors on the helm. Now all we can see is shivering apparatchiks. Sigh. I thought we went over this already with DVD regions.
  • Here's a question: How does the DVD playback dongle do its region checking? Is it based on the country ID in the Xbox itself, or is it stored in the dongle's software? Would this USB region checking prevent it from working at all?

    I'm just wondering what would happen if you took a Japanese DVD playback dongle & plugged it into a US Xbox (or vice versa) - would it playback US DVDs, Japanese DVDs, or not work at all?

    I'm particularly concerned about regions as I'm a Canadian resident & Xbox owner who's planning to move back to Australia sometime (and I'd kinda like to keep my Xbox)...

  • ok, at least when they region encoded DVDs there was some semblance of a reason. what reason is there for this other than to squeeze nickles? And how many people import controllers anyway? is the market the gargantuan to warrant this? have corporations (not just MS) all collectively shoved their heads up their asses? jesus. anyone else in favor of rising up and just revolting against the corporations? screw revolting against the government lets jsut get rid of the corps and start again.
  • The Xbox has no hardware-based region locking (aside from DVD) AT ALL. Zippo. You can import games and plop them in without a mod chip or anything.

    This is a SOFTWARE thing. Certain developers/publishers can, if they so choose, employ region locking strategies. This is an OPTION and completely up to the developer/publisher.

    It's developers and publishers (especially publishers since the US and JP publishers are almost never the same entity) and lose money off of importing, NOT Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo. Microsoft doesn't give a crap about importing, but some developers may. THEY are the ones who have employed region lockouts in their software.

    This is very similar to what Squaresoft did with games such as Dino Crisis and Final Fantasy VIII--which had built-in mod-chip detection and wouldn't let you play the game in a modded system. (Of course, people figured out a way to circumvent it with Gameshark/Pro Action Replay...but that's hardly the point)

    I know /. is ready to leap at anything realted to the possible "monopolistic" business practices of Microsoft, but this is absurd. Do a little research. This is becoming nothing more than an anti-M$ World Weekly News. =P


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