Pirate Halo 3: ODST, Go to Microsoft Jail

Did you snag a pre-release "oops" copy of Halo 3: ODST from the French retailer that "accidentally" sold a few a week or so ago? (If you did, chances are you'd préférez-moi t'écrivent en votre langue maternelle). Or did you actually download the pirated version that's reportedly popped up in the "accident's" wake? If the latter, and you unwisely chose to give Xbox LIVE a go, you're also going to jail. Perma-jail, as in perma-banned from Microsoft's Xbox LIVE matchmaking service. Also: Your name on Interpol's watch list and a $100 fine clapped on your LIVE account credit card. Only two of these things are untrue.

About that retailer... Accidentally sold? Really? Like accidentally forgetting that crying "fire!" in a flame-free theater isn't a public distress variant of Tourette's? How do you screw that up? Moreover, what was Microsoft thinking, shipping copies to retail three weeks early? Double whammy.

Halo 3: ODST aka Halo 3 Extreme Grit Edition is due in stores September 22nd. If you bought a legitimate copy, you're free and clear to play all you like, according to Microsoft. But if you've illegally pulled down the "French w/English Subtitles" version and imprudently opted to thumb your nose at the publisher by attempting to play online, my condolences to your Xbox LIVE account.

According to Plugged In, Xbox LIVE Policy and Enforcement Director Stephen Toulouse yesterday twittered "Hrm… I spy with my little eye some *illegitimate* ODST players… No early play for you… Commencing permabans." He's since apparently deleted that note and clarified to Kotaku that "our problem is not with the user but the retailer who broke the street date." And, one would hope, the internal sales strategy that let the game out the door nearly a month early.

Game on for a few lucky French-folk. T-minus two weeks and counting for the rest of us.

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