Roughly a month before its November 9 release, a pirated version of Halo 2 began to be widely circulated around the Web. Now, it seems the game is once again falling into gamers' hands earlier than Microsoft and Bungie had planned.
Numerous reports surfaced today from the Midwest claiming several retail chains had broken Halo 2's street date. Several reports on the Gaming Age forums--which included photos of the limited edition of the game--said that several individual Meijer stores, a self-described "grocery and general merchandise retailer" that operates in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, were selling the game early. Outlets in Toledo, Ohio, were mentioned specifically.
However, calls made by GameSpot to several Meijer outlets made it sound like the franchise was sticking to the deadline. "Halo 2? That doesn't go on sale until next week," was the typical response. Regardless, people have already gotten their hands on copies of Halo 2 from somewhere, because several "in-hand" copies of the game are already on sale on eBay, some with options for next-day shipping.
While unfortunate, especially given the logistics of shipping a game of Halo 2's scale--for which preorders are reportedly nearly 2 million--these sorts of leaks are increasingly common. And although it can be assured that Bungie and Microsoft are less than pleased gamers are pumping Covenant Brutes ahead of schedule, the two companies aren't letting on. The mantra "Microsoft doesn't comment on rumors or speculation." was once again uttered by reps for the company when queried by GameSpot about the retail date break.
For more information on Halo 2, be sure to read GameSpot's full review of the game when it goes live at 12:00pm PST on Sunday, November 7, which is two days before the game hits store shelves.