Gears of War testers who leaked footage got their Xbox One consoles temporarily bricked [Update]

Update: Microsoft sent a statement to GameSpot clairifing that Xbox One consoles can be cut off from Xbox Live but are still useable offline:

""To be clear, if a console is suspended from Xbox Live for a violation of the Terms of Use, it can still be used offline," a Microsoft spokesperson told GameSpot. "Microsoft enforcement action does not result in a console becoming unusable."

Original story: Earlier today, we reported that footage of the still unannounced Xbox One remake of Gears of War found its way to the Internet. Today, it looks like Microsoft is taking a stand against this kind of activity and has temporarily bricked the Xbox One consoles of the people who leaked those videos.

Microsoft hired a third-party QA company called VMC Games to help them test the Gears of War Xbox One remake, and it appears the footage came from two people that VMC hired. Their actions, obviously, broke the company's non-disclosure agreement and they have now been removed from that program. Kotaku received an email sent by VMC to its employees explaining the situation and the punishment they and Microsoft decided to give to the testers that leaked the footage:

"The nature of the leak having had occurred through Xbox One, actually also went against the Microsoft EULA, which is agreed upon when creating an Xbox LIVE account, or any other type of Microsoft account. This being said, as per that agreement with the testers in fault, Microsoft also permanently disabled their Xbox LIVE accounts (as well as other suspected accounts present on their Xbox One kits) and temporarily blocked all of their Xbox One privileges – meaning that for a period of time which Microsoft decides on depending on the severity of the offense, their Xbox One is entirely unusable."

Source: Kotaku

  • I think they should also be fined, I hate leaked footage and bannimg their consoles and accounts is nit enough
  • Yes, I do agree, but also leaked information is also how we learn about Windows 10 (both phone and PC) half the time, haha.
  • I think phone is different since entire entity is owned by them. But this is different they need to send the right message to keep the ties with them fine.
  • Teasing and leaks on the phone industry are part of the industry itself.
  • Well, same goes for any consumer orientated industry.
  • Except everyone has access to beta/insider releases of both the phone and OS software.
  • Oops
  • Too funny
  • Blocking online features I can see... Tampering with customers owned hardware in a way that prevents it from working at all seems a little dubious... I, like most people, haven't read the entire EULA but I'd be surprised of MS reserved the right to disable the console entirely.
  • & thats why they've tried to simplify the eula so it can be read in a timely manner
  • from the article it isn't clear whether this test hardware is microsoft provided hardware with special hw to allow the early builds to be run (so they couldn't just go to any xbox and log in to download the code) or not.  I'm GUESSING that it is but even if that's not the case, they should lose a lot for leaking information like this without permission (uncontrolled leak). Especially because they just wanted to feel special about themsleves by leaking just ahead of the E3 presentation.
  • They were hired to test the gameplay, as per the article. If you're hired to perform a specific service, you read through your contract. No if's or but's...!
  • And violating a non disclosure agreement thereby impacting the strategic plans of a fortune 500 corporation doesn't seem "a bit dubious"? In my opinion their punishment wasn't severe enough. At the very least, their violation of company policies, endangerment of a contractual agreement between their employer and Microsoft, and their violation of a high visibility NDA, should follow along on their employment records for the rest of their life; that way potential employers know that these two can't be trusted. Also, it's entirely possible that the devices they were testing on were given to them by Microsoft or VMC as a tool to do their testing, as opposed to being personal property.
  • Maybe. Or Microsoft could tell them "we're going to take you to court for your NDA violation, and our lawyers will make sure you spend the rest of your life living off food stamps." I bet I can guess which one the testers will pick. IMO they got off super easy.
  • The word "bricked" may have been used inappropriately here. If you read the statement, it says  temporarily blocked all of their Xbox One privileges Which I assume means Microsoft block access to anything accessed via Microsoft's online servicies for the Xbox One, which would make the box pretty useles. I doublt any hardware or firmware on the user's Xbox was altered.
  • Isn't save data have to be synchronized? If they block that it'd be awful.
  • I'm not surprised at all. On the internet, if your device is equipped to do something, there's a good chance it is. I wasn't very surprised at the Snowden leaks for this reason.
  • Go read through the EULA.  It covers all sorts ofd stuff you'd never believe (as do all of thgem) and then go watch Human Centipad from southpark.  
  • Wow, never saw MSFT as the badass guy. Always thought of it as 'the nice guy'.
  • Well they do say in xb1 gwg that were affectively renting games that are acquired thru it
  • "always thought of Microsoft as the nice guy" You haven't been following Microsoft for long, have you?
  • Scroogle was a nice gesture.
  • A minute of silence for then.
  • I'd suggest a minute of laughter followed by a "SUCKAAAAAAAAAAAA!" :)
  • The terms of use for Live state that they can disable a console from accessing Live.  As the Xbox One is so dependent upon Live when connected to the internet, that effectively keeps the console from working unless you disconnect it from internet.  I don't feel bad for these guys at all.  In fact, the deal they signed with VMC for testing also has a big financial penalty for doing this, so they'll be lucky if ALL they get is a bricked console.
  • Companies have controlled leaks to stay in the news. However if its outside of a controlled leak .........well i have no sympathy for those at fault
  • This is absolutely insane. Sure, they violated an NDA but it's their physical property Microsoft is bricking. Absolutely unacceptable, and a reminder you don't truly own your own property. Remember when everyone said always-online wasn't a problem? 
  • Not everyone buys a dev console. It's not as if they are bricking the exact same thing that you bought.
  • They're not dev consoles or debug consoles, this is consumer-owned hardware, according to Kotaku.  
    Yep, according to VMC, Microsoft has both permanently banned those leakers’ Xbox Live accounts and temporarily made their Xbox Ones totally unusable. If you didn’t think Microsoft had this power, you’re not alone. The digital present is scary. (To be clear: VMC contractors tell us they use their personal consoles for testing, not any sort of debug machines provided by the company.)  
  • Yeah I'm not sure I buy that. There's a reason why I can't burn a disc and throw it in my Xbox. There had to be some kind of development tools linked to it in some way.
  • Not necessarily, even the preview members get access to apps and beta's that aren't visable in the store. For instance I have access to the Wireless Display app and I had access to the Smite alpha.
  • Simmer down there tekhna, you are quoting kotaku [spit]. Clarification has been added.
  • So it looks like the company lied, making your argument completely useless.
  • They broke a contract. Whatever they agreed to can be held against them. They should've read the fine print of all contracts and agreements they accepted
  • Violating ToS is very serious. Look what happen to Sony when they got hacked; films were released beforehand (like Annie) and therefore some of their work was for nothing. When you accept an NDA, they put their full trust in you to keep it to yourself. Leaking this content is immature and dishonorable, so I support the account and XB1 bannings.
  • NDA is a very serious thing.
  • Those dummies... You break your EMPLOYMENT NDA? Just to leak information that you KNOW is eventually going to be in the news? Why?! Glad they got the hammer dropped on them. Hopefully, they'll never get employed to beta test anything again.
    Stop ruining surprises!
  • Same story as usual. And some idiots who think they are cool leaking stuff that is obvious not allowed for a reason. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • brick em baby yeah
  • They should of blocked their online status', not their whole console. I know what they did was a shitty move, but Microsoft have also made a shitty move and two wrongs don't make a right.
  • They likely signed a legally binding contract allowing them to use their personal consoles for this purpose, under strict punishment of terms not fully published for all of us online to see and know. Who knows what their contractual NDA included? It's hard to feel bad for them when it's their job to test this stuff, and then they willingly break the agreement on their personal devices. I don't think MS went too far on this one... anything less is a slap on the wrist in my opinion. At least this bricking is temporary (so far).
  • They could still be sued to kingdom come. They're lucky bricked consoles and deactivated accounts is all they're getting, besides the fact that they also will have a very hard time finding another job anywhere else
  • *"should have" or "should've", not "should of"
  • Well done!
  • Hahaha he did it for the gamers!
  • They were "hired" aka paid to keep information confidential. The decision to leak this damaged VMC's reputation, and may cost them future contracts. Frankly I think they got off easy.
  • Laying down the law..
  • To all the people saying MS was bad for bricking their consoles, I bet they prefer that to being brought to court, they did break a signed NDA deal.
  • Soo... confirmation that the leaked footage was real.
  • Idiots! They probably signed an NDA that included language about their hardware being disabled if they shared any information. I hope it was worth it.
  • My first reaction is that this is quite hilarious.  That'll teach them a lesson. Now, if the agreement they signed says Microsoft can totally brick their own personal console, then I guess I don't have a problem with it. I do kinda have a problem with the fact that Microsoft actually has the ability to toally brick a console.   Not that I don't trust them, but I don't trust hackers to find out a way to mass brick people's consoles, which they will now attempt to do since it appears it can be done. Still funny though.  :)
  • Most people have accepted terms far worse and don't realize it... Almost all term ans agreements are this way... But hey, I guess that free social service, magazine, games, etc was worth it.
  • They got the hammer, the hammer of dawn.
  • Good... When nda are signed, that's that. Tired of people wanting to be "the one" who did it and expecting fanfare. Now they want to cry and call foul... When they are the one who signed, agreed and then broke the rules. This is for any situation... Tired of this mess and good job MS... Dont give in.
  • How long until you hit puberty?
  • I know you are trying to be clever. Not working.
  • When I watched the vid the first thing I noticed is the big watermark. And these people thought they wouldn't be discovered?
  • Good. NDAs are serious. I had to sign one for my job. I know of one person that broke it and the company went after him hard.
  • John, using kotaku as a source? Shame, shame, shame.
  • Since it's a contract violation, I would expect a legal case as well.  The leakers will be sorry.
  • I bought an xbox 360 through the Entertainment All-In-One deal a couple of years ago. One of my monthly $14.99 subscription fees were declined due to an error with my card. The entire 360 system was completely unusable. You could boot to a menu telling you that the console was locked and i had to contact MS to get unlocked. I couldn't even watch DVD's or play games offline, it was just bricked. (until i fixed the error and made the payment) So yes, MS can completely brick their consoles. (at least a 360 from my experience)