Microsoft covers scratched Halo 3 discs

[UPDATE] Publisher waives normal replacement fee to address issues with Limited Edition package of blockbuster shooter.

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Microsoft's heavily hyped first-person shooter Halo 3 was officially released at 12 a.m. this morning, and the wait in line for some customers was not just anticipatory, but also apprehensive.

Over the weekend, reports surfaced of problems with the packaging of the limited-edition version of the game. It seems the plastic spindle inside the special metal collector's case didn't properly secure the discs, because limited editions were arriving at media outlets with scuffed discs sliding around loose in the packages. A Microsoft representative busy preparing for a launch event wouldn't comment on the issue for GameSpot yesterday, but it appears the Xbox 360 maker is well aware of the problem.

The company's Disc Replacement Program page on Xbox.com contains a note saying that Microsoft will replace damaged Limited Edition game and bonus discs at no charge through the end of the year. Ordinarily, gamers would have to pay $20 for a replacement disc, and even then the program covers only certain Microsoft-published titles. For instance, Gears of War, Halo 2 for the Xbox, and Crackdown are covered by the program, but the regular edition of Halo 3 is not.

However, gamers will need to send in their damaged discs to have them replaced, and Microsoft says to allow two weeks for delivery of the replacement. Gamers can also have only one copy of any given disc replaced, so anyone who purchased multiple Limited Edition Halo 3s might not be eligible to have them all replaced.

[UPDATE] A Microsoft spokesperson has now responded to GameSpot's request for comment. "We have identified that there are some instances of blemishes on discs as a result of the packaging of the Halo 3 Limited Edition. It is related only to the Halo 3 Limited Edition version of the game. This is a small fraction of the total number of Halo 3 games shipped and sold...We encourage anyone experiencing these issues to go to xbox.com/support and click on the Halo 3 Limited Edition disc replacement link. We will be replacing these discs and apologize for the inconvenience."

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