Microsoft banning Halo: Reach pirates - Report

Publisher said to have permanently cut off Xbox Live access for gamers who have illegally downloaded prerelease version of Bungie's sci-fi shooter prequel.

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Halo: Reach will be released into the wild in just 21 days, but some gamers downloaded illegitimate copies and are now reportedly paying a hefty price for their actions.

Earlier this month a community of modders got their hands on Bungie's final Halo game from Microsoft's virtual marketplace. And though it was reportedly not their intention to let the code loose to file-sharing sites, it ended up there.

Microsoft isn't capturing the flag, but rather the player.
Microsoft isn't capturing the flag, but rather the player.

Now, gamers playing unauthorized copies of Halo: Reach on Xbox Live-connected Xbox 360s are being tracked down and slammed with a permanent ban, according to a policy document obtained by MaxConsole.

"Notification of Permanent Suspension," reads Microsoft's guideline article. The document cites "prerelease title play" as the cause for the ban and says affected parties won't be able to connect to Xbox Live, per policy, ever again.

"During your suspension, you will not be able to log into Xbox Live. Your Xbox Live privileges will not be reinstated. Customer Support is not able to modify or provide any further details about your suspension," reads the document.

As of press time, Microsoft would not confirm for GameSpot whether the bans are limited to GamerTags or Xbox 360 systems. Microsoft did, however, provide GameSpot with the following statement concerning the issue.

"Microsoft’s commitment to combat piracy and support safer and more secure gameplay for the 25 million members of the Xbox Live community remains a top priority. All consumers should know that piracy is illegal, violates the Xbox Live terms of use, and will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live."

Addressing the situation via Twitter, Microsoft's director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, Stephen Toulouse, issued the following statement.

"As with all unauthorized play on Xbox Live, anyone playing any unauthorized title runs the risk of account permaban and console. Remember, legit store bought copy runs no risk of ban. Key word: UNAUTHORIZED. We have ways of knowing."

The Halo series is no stranger to piracy, leaks, and broken street dates. Halo 2 was widely available on file-sharing sites prior to its release in 2004. Additionally, Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST were both sold at retail ahead of their street dates.

As far as punishment is concerned, when an Xbox Live user hacked his way into Halo 3's Epsilon test, he was banned for thousands of years.

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