Surprise! You'll get in big trouble if you decide to take a pirated copy of Bungie's Halo: Reach online. Microsoft is now reportedly perma-banning those silly enough to sync stolen copies of the long-anticipated shooter with Xbox Live's servers. It's also passing out a cute letter alongside bans, stating the obvious to those feeling the banhammer's righteous burn. "This email is to notify you that your Xbox Live account privileges have been permanently suspended due to illegitimate pre-release play," it reads in part, according to Max Console (via Joystiq)
Microsoft acknowledged the Reach leak earlier this week to the Seattle PI and other outlets, but didn't explain how thieves got their hands on the game this far in advance of release.
That part is easy to explain, thanks to the thieves themselves. Microsoft recently uploaded a final build of the game on Xbox Live Marketplace, presumably for reviewers not attending this week's review event (which Jeff is attending right this minute). A couple of smart but nefarious dudes were able to extract the code and then went on to distribute it. They publicized the former, and said they wouldn't do the latter. Yet, here we are talking about people who have the game and are getting banned for it. Somebody was telling a fib.
If you're wondering if this is special treatment for Halo pirates, it isn't. In a Twitter response about this mess, Xbox Live director of policy Stephen Toulouse said everyone who gets any game illegally could be perma-banned if caught.
And chances are you will be caught playing a pirated version of Reach, because, c'mon, the game doesn't come out until September 14. Microsoft knows your mom and pop store doesn't have a copy in stock yet. So just wait until release and buy a copy instead. It's the right thing to do.