As a follow-up to Thursday's story that an 11-year-old autistic boy (Julius Jackson) being banned from Xbox Live for cheating, Game Informer unravels exactly what might have happened and why Microsoft is not backing down from the action. Game Informer posits that the ban probably has something to do with the way the youngster acquired the Recon Armor in Halo 3. Game Informer came to this conclusion based on tweets from both the mother (Jennifer Zdene) and Xbox Live Policy Director (Stephen Toulouse).
Getting Recon Armor is not an easy task. You can either have it given to you by Bungie directly (which did not happen in this case for sure) or you can unlock a specific set of 7 achievements spread across Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST called Vidmaster Challenges. Some of those challenges are easy, while others are quite difficult.
According to the mom's tweets, Jackson gave out his account information to another player online, with the promise of attaining the youngster the fabled Recon Armor. Instead of getting the armor for him legitimately, this unknown user used some sort of external means to secure the armor for him. When a user tries to cheat the system, it is obvious to other players. Here is how GI sums up what might have happened:
"This was likely brought to Microsoft's attention by an opponent on Halo 3 who saw the boy's armor. Maybe the boy underperformed in a game and someone thought he couldn't have the skills to unlock the armor legitimately. Maybe the boy cleaned up and a vindictive loser went looking for any dirt he could find to get revenge. Maybe someone is just skeptical of every Recon armor he sees. Who knows. In any case, someone likely compared achievements with the boy and discovered his Vidmaster achievements had been obtained offline, and followed suit with a complaint to Microsoft. Microsoft, upon receiving the complaint, saw the same thing and reset the boy's gamerscore, as is standard fare for people who cheat on their achievements."
Commentary: So Jackson did not really cheat, and I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he just did not know any better. Should Microsoft give him a break? Probably. We all know that, as a matter of policy, that is not going to happen and Jackson is going to be marked down as a cheater. His best bet - now that Microsoft wiped the Achievement slate clean - is to start from scratch with a new account. The moral of the story is a classic: do not talk to strangers.