Three weeks before the public release of the most eagerly-awaited Xbox 360 game title of the year, Microsoft is probing how hackers obtained the game from its servers and made it available online. Halo: Reach, the next title in the blockbuster Halo series, can now be downloaded from various file sharing websites around the world, Microsoft confirmed.
"We are still investigating details surrounding a claimed leak of Halo: Reach and have nothing further to share," a Microsoft statement reads.
However, Xbox Live Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen Toulouse had a more direct statement aimed at potential thieves. "As with all unauthorized play on Xbox Live, anyone playing any unauthorized title runs the risk of account permaban," he noted. "Remember, legit store-bought copy runs no risk of ban. Key word: unauthorized. We have ways of knowing."
This isn't the first time a Halo game title has been pirated prior to release. In 2004, Halo 2 appeared on file sharing sites months before its release, and in 2007, Halo 3 was also pirated.
Halo: Reach is the fifth and final chapter of the Halo series, supposedly. It is at least the final chapter designed by series originator Bungie, which left the software giant after a seven-year run and is now part of Activision. Halo: Reach will become available, legally, on September 14.