Xbox crackdown irks "mod chip" fans

Many game players have been left in the lurch as a result of Microsoft's apparently successful efforts to shut down one of the leading sellers of Xbox hacking tools.

Customers of Hong Kong-based Web retailer Lik-Sang report they've heard nothing regarding dozens of orders they placed with the site shortly before it went offline last month.

Lik-Sang was one of the top worldwide retailers of "mod chips," devices that when soldered to a game console's main circuit board will disable security components. The chips typically allow a game machine to play legally and illegally copied discs, run unauthorized software, and play game discs intended for other geographic regions.

Customers have also been stymied in getting information on the retailer's plans. Ted, a 30-year-old network administrator from Cliffside, N.J., said he spent more than $300 on a programming tool for his classic SNES Nintendo game console the day before Lik-Sang went offline.

Ted, who asked that his last name not be used, said he's heard nothing from Lik-Sang since the order was placed and skipped a chance to complain through PayPal--the online service he used to pay for the order--based on Lik-Sang's server pledges.

"I don't have an Xbox and could care less about that and the mod chips," he said. "In my case, we are talking about fair use and a console that is 11 years old."

David, a British pub owner who also declined to give his full name, said he sent Lik-Sang almost $400 for an Xbox with a mod chip pre-installed by Lik-Sang. He said he's heard nothing from the retailer since.

"I know a lot of people will say that I got what I deserved by dealing with a company who deals in pirate consoles--and to some extent I agree, but nobody likes to lose 250 (British) pounds," he said.

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