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Fans of the year’s most anticipated Xbox game, Halo 2, don’t have to wait until the November 9 release date to play it. Last night, pirates in the warez scene leaked what they claim to be a complete version of the sci-fi shooter on the Internet. Gamespot reports that the version features French dialogue, and that it’s readily available on newsgroups and P2P groups.

“We consider downloading this code or making it available for others to download as theft,” said Microsoft, the game’s publisher, in a statement. “We are currently investigating the source of this leak with the appropriate authorities. Microsoft takes the integrity of its intellectual property extremely seriously, and we are aggressively pursuing the source of this illegal act.”

Pirated games, of course, are nothing new. But the fact that a group has pirated such a huge game so far in advance – 27 days! – is pretty incredible. Ultimately, however, I question the impact that such a leak will have on the game’s sales. Most players, after all, don’t have the will or skills to play a pirated console game on a modified machine. If anything, it will only build the anticipation for players who want to get their hands on the real thing.

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