Late last week the unannounced game for the Xbox One’s Gears of War multiplayer mode was leaked online shortly after the mode went out to testers. The end result, according to the third-party testing service VMC, is that those that leaked the images would find themselves banned from Xbox Live according to Microsoft’s end user license agreement.
VMC had forwarded an email, it had sent to their testers, according to Polygon, that Microsoft “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.”
Here is the full email:
In the light of recent events, we’d like to bring a situation to the community’s attention in attempts to strengthened everyone’s awareness and vigilance regarding the NDA which binds every single one of you to VMC.
Recently, multiple leaks were perpetrated by several GBTN community members. In one case, a member who was participating in that test shared a screenshot on Snapchat with their friend, who wasn’t part of the project, but tricked his friend by saying he didn’t believe him when he said they were working on the same project. Upon reception of the screenshot, the friend who received the Snapchat leaked it online, betraying his friend as well as his NDA with VMC Games. While the tester who first took the screenshot didn’t think he was doing anything bad, he was still going against the NDA, and was part of the cause why the information got leaked. Because of this, both members were permanently removed from the community and addressed to our legal department, as per the terms of the NDA.
Now, new wording is about to reach the community regarding this particular event. 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.
The reason behind the Non-Disclosure Agreement is not only to protect our clients and our program, but also our community, and to make each and every single one of you aware of the severity of revealing confidential information which you’re entrusted with. One screenshot, message or even conversation shared with someone else can easily snowball into a situation that goes out of control, and not only penalize the offender as well as anyone else directly involved, but sometimes far beyond that. In certain cases, there were consequences which had affected people which had no malicious intentions but ended up entwined within the legal case – we’re fully aware that this also targeted very faithful, hard workers who had been with us from the start, and this situation crippled the entire community. We do not want to go that way ever again and are constantly in search of better solutions to single out perpetrators before too much is at risk. The community itself is growing stronger, and often times leaks are reported by community members to us – and we’re extremely thankful for that as it not only speeds up investigations drastically, but also shows us that this community is tightly knit and merely contains a few bad apples, who unfortunately ruin the experience for too many participants already.
We would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that this is a community. Your actions and behavior reflect on each other as well as on us, and acting selfishly has the potential to ruin the experience to everyone. Please be mindful of others throughout your actions.
Global Beta Test Network
However, Microsoft followed up claiming that the interpretation of their agreement was inaccurate. Even if the user is banned from Xbox Live, they can still play the game offline.
It would seem that it was more of a tactic to scare their testers to keep them in line. However, since the news broke, it would seem that Microsoft would want to keep the truth up front and most importantly make it clear that it was not Microsoft banning them. Given that E3 is less than a month away, it would not be that much of a leak if they announced it at the event.