CVG is reporting that as of this evening Halo Reach, the entire game, has been leaked online about 3 weeks before the official release date; September 14th.
Apparently NeoGAF’ers were some of the first to notice the leak when hackers (modders from the GameTuts community) circumvented the press access-wall that Microsoft had setup on Xbox.com for them to download the game for early-access reviews. The game was originally listed in a private section of Xbox Live with a cost of 9,999 Microsoft Points (roughly $1,250). The GameTuts hackers found a way around the price via an access code apparently and downloaded the entire game just as if they were press.
The hackers have said they don’t intend on releasing the game until after it’s official release date.
Taking a quick look at The Pirate Bay does seem to indicate something about 7GB in size under the name “Halo Reach” is on the site, I don’t intend on downloading it and checking it though.
You can actually watch a live-stream of someone playing Halo Reach on Justin.TV here.
CVG also points out that both Halo 2 and 3 were both leaked in a similar fashion and NeoGAF comments suggest that this is a standard “viral” marketing campaign courtesy of Microsoft.
Game gets “leaked” they go after the “pirates” and it’s front page news for 2 or 3 days straight while everyone is reminded that the game is coming out and hit up Amazon and EB World for their pre-orders.
I’m sure they have exact numbers on what an ad campaign costs vs a piracy campaign like this. I’d also point out that just because it was leaked via Xbox.com to a handful of Xboxs (that will be banned for life) that is still a far cry away from burning pirated copies of the game and playing them in modded Xbox 360’s.
I’d say the overall impact of this “leak” to Microsoft’s bottom line compared to the free marketing they will get is negligible.
Given the hellish light software pirates are painted in by the software industry, it’s surprising to see a company leverage that reputation as a controlled marketing tool. It is brilliant really.