Microsoft is threatening to cut off players from its online gaming service if they attempt to play with unauthorized copies of the title.
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Game enthusiasts who download pirated copies of the forthcoming Halo Reach title will face a permanent ban from the Xbox Live multiplayer service if they're caught, a Microsoft official warned.
"As with all unauthorized play on Xbox Live, anyone playing an unauthorized title runs the risk of account permaban," said Stephen Toulouse, director of policy and enforcement for Xbox Live, in a message posted on Twitter.
"Remember, legit store-bought copy runs no risk of ban. Key word: unauthorized. We have ways of knowing," Toulouse ominously warned.
Toulouse's post came after it was revealed leaked copies of Halo Reach have appeared on illicit file sharing sites such as Pirate Bay in the past several days. Evidence of illegally downloaded copies of the game has shown up on YouTube.
Microsoft said it's probing the breach. "We are still investigating details surrounding a claimed leak of Halo Reach and have nothing further to share," a company spokesman said.
Halo Reach, the latest in the blockbuster Halo series for Xbox 360, is one of the most hotly anticipated games for 2010. Distributed by Microsoft and produced by Bungie studio, it's set to make its formal debut on Sept. 14.
Halo Reach is billed as a prequel to the original game. "Halo Reach follows the story of Noble Team, a squad of heroic Spartan soldiers as they make their final stand on planet Reach, humanity's last line of defense between the terrifying Covenant and Earth," according to Microsoft.
The game features a new graphics engine that offers enhanced visuals over its predecessors, Microsoft said. The basic edition will sell for $59.99, while the limited and legendary editions will be priced at $79.99 and $149.99, respectively.
Halo is the top-selling video game franchise of all time, according to Guinness World Records.
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