Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 copies hit streets early

[UPDATE]: Shooter spotted in online auctions; Microsoft cautions Xbox Live members that "playing early may impact your account," but Infinity Ward says there are "no plans to ban legit fans."

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 isn't supposed to go on sale until November 8, but it appears some copies of Activision's first-person shooter have already hit the streets. Multiple online auctions for sealed copies of Modern Warfare 3 have already surfaced, with sellers providing photographic evidence to back up claims that the game is in hand.

Is it better to have it and not be able to play it, or not have it at all?
Is it better to have it and not be able to play it, or not have it at all?

While the auctions may give gamers the opportunity to answer the latest Call of Duty a little early, that decision may have repercussions. Late last night, Microsoft's Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement Stephen Toulouse posted on his Twitter account that Modern Warfare 3 prerelease play has not been authorized by Activision and cautioned, "Playing early may impact your account!"

That warning was an about-face for the Microsoft representative. Earlier in the day, he responded to players' concerns, saying "If your copy is legit and obtained legitly, have fun. It's a great game."

This is not the first time Activision has had release plans for the popular shooter series undermined. When Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 debuted two years ago, retailers were as eager to sell the game as gamers were to play it. The end result was specialty chain GameStop jumping the gun on the shooter's formal release date in select markets, an act of which the publisher expressly disapproved.

[UPDATE]: Infinity Ward representative Robert Bowling has spoken for the Modern Warfare 3 developer on Twitter, saying, "No plans to ban legit fans, but try to wait 'til midnight launch on Tuesday to play #MW3."

For more on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, check out GameSpot's previous coverage.

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