Microsoft tightens Marketplace region controls

Xbox 360 manufacturer to crack down on users downloading content intended for other countries.

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The Xbox 360 Spring Update is almost here, and it will bring with it more than just achievement notifications and Windows Live Messenger compatibility. According to a post on the GamerScore Blog of Microsoft's global gaming marketing team, the update will also tighten the territorial controls for downloadable content on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Not all downloadable content is available in all countries. For example, the recently released Gears of War map pack is not available in Germany, while movies and TV shows from the Xbox Live Marketplace have been licensed for download only within the US. As a result, some Xbox Live users have set up dummy accounts with foreign addresses in order to access content otherwise unavailable in their home region.

After the Spring Update is applied, Porcaro said users will not be able to download region-restricted content if their account information does not match the country where they actually are. However, such users will still be able to access content intended for their current region.

"Some of our contracts and agreements with content partners, particularly in the area of entertainment, restrict in which countries we may make certain content available," explained John Porcaro, senior group manager in charge of the marketing team's community and communications. "There are a number of reasons for these restrictions, including legal rights and regulations. In addition, various countries such as Germany have regulations when it comes to what content is acceptable for distribution to their residents."

Despite those limitations, Porcaro said that Microsoft has a general policy of trying to distribute content globally but noted that it isn't always possible.

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