Kinda strange development taking place over in New Zealand, with Microsoft taking the rather drastic step of blocking every single under-18 user in the country from downloading paid content on their 360's. Even kid-friendly stuff.

Kotaku AU first noticed the move last week, and when we contacted Microsoft for comment, were handed this rather vague statement:

Microsoft has taken an initiative in New Zealand to ensure people under the age of 18 cannot access mature content. We are working to limit access to content to the appropriate age group in New Zealand. This will take some time due to technical reasons. We are working to remove the ability for people under the age of 18 to add points until we can resolve this issue. People affected by this issue can be refunded via our customer call centre, which can be contacted through or on 0508 555 592.

So the kids will get their access to kid-friendly paid content (and to add MS points to their account) back once these "technical reasons" have been overcome. That's fine. If kids can't watch adult movies in NZ, it was only a matter of time before ther were restrictions put in place for access to adult gaming content as well.

Slightly more concerning is that we asked Microsoft at whose behest this move took place (Microsoft's or a relevant New Zealand authority), and whether this could be used as a test case for age-based lockdowns in other markets. And did not receive a response.

Surely there's a better way of handling this than effectively locking child users out of large parts of Xbox Live, even if it is "temporary"? They may be under 18, but their money's as good as anyone else's.


Microsoft Confirms Locking New Zealand Kids Out From Xbox Live [Kotaku AU]