Microsoft to Probe Halo: Reach Breach

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Microsoft is gunning for the enterprising hackers who managed to get their hands on a copy of Halo: Reach, the latest game in the company’s ludicrously lucrative Halo shoot-em-up series.

Three weeks early, the game has already made its way to file-sharing and Bittorrent sites, and Microsoft is stripping videos of the game’s ending cinematics from YouTube almost as fast as they’re being uploaded. (Read more about the leak at Techland.)

Leaks have not been kind to Bungie, developers of the Halo games: their last four offerings have all ended up online before release. Halo: Reach was downloaded from Microsoft’s online Xbox store, where it had been made available—with evidently shaky security—to games reviewers. The hackers say they did it to point out Microsoft’s lousy security, though the best of intentions won’t be stopping the software giant from coming after them.

But pirates are complaining that this game hasn’t been hacked enough. The pirated copy of Halo: Reach will only run on consoles which have been ‘jtagged’: a tricky modification which involves soldering a PC parallel port onto the Xbox’s motherboard. And, as Wired‘s Chris Kohler points out, “anyone dedicated enough to do that was probably going to pirate the game anyway.” If you don’t have a soldering iron handy, the game launches officially on September 14.

— Adam White