Some XBOX Live users have violated the online gaming platform’s code of conduct by using a malicious application that allowed them to permanently kill off the characters of other players in the popular ‘Borderlands 2’ video game.
On a forum run by the game’s software developer Gearbox, a community manager operating under the handle ‘ChrisF’ and identified by Ars Technica as Chris Faylor, confirmed the problem last Friday and notified users that a fix had been submitted to Microsoft. He claimed it will be released as soon as possible and that in the mean time, the situation is easy to avoid.
Faylor said in the Gearbox forum that players can avoid having their characters eliminated by playing only with trusted friends in private online sessions. Faylor also advises that users should save and quit from the pause menu while their characters are still alive. In the event that players find themselves back at the start menu after dying (instead of respawning in the game as they should), Faylor explains that users who saved and quit while their characters were still alive can recover them by simply electing ‘Continue’ in the main menu.
The bug does not affect players on the PC or PlayStation 3.
Of course, this is something of a frivolous problem in contrast to the 3.6 million South Carolinians who were the victims of an enormous data breach that spilled Social Security Numbers and other sensitive data from that state’s Department of Revenue Services last week. The permanent deaths of fictional characters in video games is also a small concern next to the serious vulnerabilities in SSL implementation, critical infrastructure or any of the myriad other serious security issues you read about here and other places on a daily basis.
However, as Apple and Google have learned in recent years with their respective operating systems, it is not a question of if but when gaming consoles and their online platforms begin seeing massive fraud and other malicious campaigns. Fortunately, XBOX 360 is a product of Microsoft, who has a decade of experience with consistent attacks on and vulnerabilities in its Windows operating system, but considering the amount of money that changes hands on XBOX Live, the destruction of characters and deliberate sabotage of game-play condition should be the least of the software giant’s concerns.