Update (5:45 pm): This story now includes a statement from Microsoft.
Want an Xbox 360 but don't care about playing online or taking part in any of the Xbox Live services? Then this is your lucky day.
Thanks to a recent decision by Microsoft to ban as many as a million players from Xbox Live for illegally modifying their consoles to run pirated games, there is now an absolute glut of "modded" Xboxes for sale on Craigslist.
And while a brand-new Xbox Arcade--the lowest-price version of the console--sells for $200 with no free games, it is now possible to spend as little as $100 for a used, modded Xbox that comes with a slew of hit titles. You just have to be willing to give up using Xbox Live and be OK with your new game collection including mainly pirated titles.
Running a search for "modded Xbox" on Craigslist's Bay Area site returned 35 listings from the past three days. A similar search on New York Craigslist resulted in 87 listings. And dozens and dozens more are for sale on other local Craigslist sites.
One listing promised a "banned/modded" Xbox 360 with a 20 gigabyte hard drive; 20 HD movies; and 13 games including Madden 2010, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, NBA 2K10, and others.
"Everything works perfectly," the ad reads. "The 360 was treated better than I treat most people."
The ad also reminded potential buyers that, "since the console is banned, you will not be able to connect to the Xbox Live service. Therefore, this posting is for those of you who don't care if you can play online or not."
One Craigslist poster named Danny Cuccovia, a 22-year-old student from West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., was actually looking to buy a modded Xbox 360, and despite the incredible deals available right now, wasn't interested in one that couldn't get him onto Xbox Live.
A gamer looking to potentially go pro, Cuccovia suggested that modded Xboxes are great because there is no end to the supply of pirated games and that sellers of those games put very realistic-looking labels on them.
He also said he was sure that many of the people selling their banned Xboxes on Craigslist were doing so because they want to get a new one.
That was certainly the case with Kevin, a 29-year-old from Manhattan's East Village who logged into Xbox Live a few days ago only to discover the bad news about his console.
"I logged in, tried to play a game online, and it said I had been banned from the service for violating the terms of service," Kevin, who wouldn't give his last name, said. "I cursed, put my controller down, cursed Microsoft, and then bought another Xbox."
But even though he bought another used console that was advertised as being unmodified, Kevin said that when he tried to log on to Xbox Live, he quickly discovered he'd been cheated: the new device had been banned, too. So on Tuesday, he bought another one.
"If you're interested in a modded Xbox," he said, "I've got one for you."
Interestingly, Kevin and another New Yorker with a banned Xbox, 16-year-old Muhummad Sheikh, both said that the ban seemed to apply only to the console and not to their Xbox Live accounts.
Kevin said that his account still works, and that he was able to keep all his achievements, but he lost all the saved games. "They've done something funny," he said. "They call it a corrupted profile."
For sellers like Kevin, the rush to sell their banned Xboxes in order to buy a new one is pitting them against dozens, if not hundreds of people in the same boat. That means that getting the price they want is going to be near impossible. Kevin said that he had originally asked for $175--with an available legitimate copy of Rock Band for an additional $50--but has now dropped his price to $150. And still he has no bites.
"Someone (offered to) buy it for $100," Kevin said, "but I haven't capitulated yet."
In a statement issued late Wednesday to CNET News, Microsoft suggested that players who buy used Xboxes should beware that the company doesn't necessarily stand behind the consoles.
"If you purchase a modified console second-hand, the warranty is not transferable and the purchaser assumes the risk for any previous modifications," the Microsoft statement said. "If you purchase a console that has been previously banned, you will not be able to connect to (Xbox) Live."
To Kevin, the fact that the consoles have been banned but players' accounts still work smells a little fishy since that means if someone buys a new Xbox, they'll be able to get right back into their Xbox Live account and pick up, more or less, where they left off. And that could well mean that for the Xbox Live obsessed, there's no choice but to buy a brand-new machine, especially since many of the other consoles for sale on Craigslist right now have also been banned.
"Well, the holidays are around the corner," Kevin said. "They know what they're doing when it comes to making money."