No, Retailers Aren't (Yet) Selling Halo: Reach Early

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Halo Reach

Not exactly swirling rumors suggest retailers have started selling Microsoft's coverage-glutted Halo: Reach early to counteract downloads of a pirate version confirmed in the wild.

The rumors are probably false.

It's unlikely Microsoft's even shipped the game to retailers yet. It's not due out until September 14. That's two weeks away. What's more, tracker stats on leading torrent sites suggest the pirated version, which only works on specially modified Xbox 360s, isn't being downloaded en masse anyway.

Someone reportedly sent JustPushStart a batch of screens allegedly depicting what looks like a retail copy of Halo: Reach laid out suggestively. Some are speculating it may be a promotional copy, though the box and its contents offer nothing to indicate that's the case.

On the other hand, the game is finished and almost certainly pressed. It's always possible Microsoft could rush the game forward to counter pirate sales, but don't go looking. The last several games in the Halo franchise were leaked early but didn't force Microsoft's hand. Gamers expecting otherwise need to be mindful of the "day one sales" phenomenon, whereby publishers hope to break records, then launch ceremonial press releases touting a game's unprecedented sales performance. Breaking street dates invariably softens a game's sales impact, as enthusiasts paying attention turn out early, but everyone else trickles in sporadically.

Unlike last year's spare, perfunctory and also-pirated Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach is a mainline game--the last from series creator Bungie before 343 Studios takes over. It actually has a shot at one-upping Halo 3's sales.

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