This week in games

Microsoft changes the rules for developers of Xbox 360 peripherals, and Rockstar releases a "No More Hot Coffee" patch.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
3 min read
Is Microsoft getting greedy with its new Xbox console?

The software giant has announced a new royalty program tied to the gadget. Only accessory makers that get Microsoft's blessing and then fork over a slice of their sales to the software maker will be able to produce Xbox 360 game pads, steering wheels, joysticks and other controllers.

In addition, in order to ensure that only authorized products connect to the new console, Microsoft is adding a security mechanism that will be available exclusively to those who sign a deal with the company, according to documents that a peripherals company filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Xbox 360 console, announced in May, is slated to go on sale in time for the holiday shopping season.

With the last Xbox release, Microsoft had a licensing program in which makers of such gadgets could either pay a royalty and display an Xbox logo, or offer the products without paying the fee or using the logo.

The new approach isn't sitting well with some CNET News.com readers. "MS is sure trying to set up a massive golden goose with the Xbox, especially now that MS is fixing it so only accessories from which MS gets a cut will work on the Xbox," wrote Earl Benser in News.com's TalkBack forum. "It's almost a wonder that MS did not install a quarter slide on the Xbox like on arcade games."

The issue of control was echoed in other readers' comments. "They have always felt that hardware was not important, only their OS matters," wrote Steve Barry in TalkBack. "Now all of a sudden, they think that hardware is important and should cost more money. Yeah, when they are in control."

Meanwhile, Rockstar Games is moving to calm the scandal surrounding its "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas." The company has released a patch that disables the infamous sexually oriented "Hot Coffee" scenes from its game.

In the wake of the scandal surrounding the best-selling video game of 2005, the Entertainment Software Rating Board changed the "Grand Theft Auto" rating from Mature to Adult. At the same time, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., criticized the game for its content, despite the fact that the Hot Coffee scenes were not directly accessible without downloading the modification from the Internet.

Meanwhile, hackers are raising the ire of Sony. The company claims a group of hackers illegally created a huge amount of "Everquest II" currency last weekend and said the players caused the game's economy to suffer 20 percent inflation in just 24 hours before being caught.

The week in pictures

A company representative said the players began using their so-called "duping bug" to make large quantities of platinum, the game's currency. (A duping bug is a hack that exploits a weakness in online games' code to effectively create counterfeit currency or other goods.) The players then began trying to sell the ill-gotten plat on Station Exchange, the official auction exchange for EQ2 weapons, armor, currency and other virtual goods.