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Xbox Live bans up to 1 million players

In this photo made Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009,

In this photo made Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2009, attendees play "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," at the multiplayer preview event hosted by Xbox 360 and Activision in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Xbox, Dan Steiberg) Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Microsoft has banned as many as 1 million users with modified Xbox 360s from Xbox Live, the online gaming service, in a bid to counter piracy.

The ban from the Xbox Live service is reported to have affected anywhere from 600,000 to 1 million Xbox 360 users.

The so-called "modded" consoles allow gamers to play illegal copies of games. Microsoft said the practice violates the Xbox Live terms of use and that it reserves the right to cut service to its online gaming service. The BBC reported that Microsoft said banning gamers was part of an ongoing effort to curb piracy.

The move comes on the heels of the launch of the most anticipated game of the year, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which sold a reported 310 million copies in its first 24 hours.

>>VIDEO: Click here to watch gamers get their hands on a copy of the game at the midnight release party

Microsoft's move only cripples the Xbox console's online functionality. Users can still play as single players, but the allure and popularity of games such as Modern Warfare 2 depend on its online multiplayer modes.

>>VIDEO: Click here to watch the trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

The ban has triggered the listing of hundreds of modded Xbox 360s, some being offered for less than $100, on Craigslist on Long Island.

Microsoft said the Xbox Live online gaming service serves more than 20 million users worldwide. The only way for those banned to return to Xbox Live is to purchase a new, unmodded Xbox 360 console.

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