CONSOLE GAMING | Recent as well as future games for the Xbox 360 will be manufactured on the new XGD3 format of discs, enabling roughly 1 additional gigabyte of data to be stored, compared to regular Dual Layer DVD's. Along with Microsoft's system update of version number 2.0.13146.0, comes a new firmware for the DVD reader that flashes to the drive automatically, enabling it to read the new, larger XGD3 discs.

It may sound like good news at first, as it may appear that developers will now finally have some more space to cram all cutscenes and gaming fun onto the disc right from the start. Because lately, modern games have leaned more and more towards downloadable content (DLC), rather than offering the full gaming experience in one package, like games traditionally would, before digital distribution became such an important channel within the gaming industry.

Driver San Francisco - the first game
entirely made on the new, larger
XGD3 DVD format. By Ubisoft
There's been much speculation, however, that the reason for moving to this new DVD format is mainly yet another one of Microsoft's tools in their constant struggle against piracy. As blank/writeable XGD3 discs are not available yet to the public, these newer games won't be possible to copy within any near future. Furthermore, the most common of enabling a Xbox 360 console to play copied games is through a custom firmware to the DVD drive. And by silently re-flashing the DVD drive to their official firmware, Microsoft also make sure they override any previous modification the console may have undergone in this regard, thus yet again making the console unable to read anything but their licensed, genuine game discs.

The hackers strike back

It didn't take long for the hacking scene to respond to this new obstacle, however. An upcoming iteration of the familiar iXtreme custom firmware, which is now reaching version LT+2.0, has already addressed the XGD3 issue, and is apparently being tested for improved security on the Internet service Xbox Live, before being released to the public. The new firmware will apparently be able to fake that a XGD3 disc is inserted, even when the game is actually burnt to a regular dual layered DVD.

Other solutions, such as hardware mods like xKey and Wasabi 360, involve reading copied games off a flash drive or external hard drive. Both are told to be safer than the previous mod called JTAG, which had no Live safety at all to speak of, which -although its neat features and convenience of not having to burn game discs- still made it a less attractive solution than the custom firmware mods.

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