Microsoft Banning Early ‘Halo 4′ Players from Xbox Live; 343 Industries Shrugs Off Leak

Oct 15, 2012 by  

One of the most anticipated titles of 2012, Halo 4, is now available – if you’re willing to break the law and possibly face a permanent ban from Xbox Live. As we reported yesterday, a stolen copy of Halo 4 has resulted in a massive online leak – allowing players with modded Xbox consoles to play the game’s single player content over two full weeks ahead of the retail release.

However, as Halo 4 spoiler videos flood YouTube, in addition to working with law enforcement to determine the source of the leak, Microsoft is also hard at work banning players who pirated the game and then logged into Xbox Live.

According to a growing discussion thread on Reddit, players who fired up Halo 4 on their modded Xbox 360 and then took the console online are seeing harsh blow-back from Microsoft – with many commenters reporting that their console has been hit with a “permanent suspension” from Xbox Live for “prerelease title play.” As usual, gamers in the thread are debating the word pairing of “permanent” and “suspension” which, on the surface, seems to indicate both an indefinite and temporary ban at the same time. That said, while Microsoft has been known to reactive “permabanned” consoles from time to time, a “permanent suspension” usually means that the hardware, and sometimes a corresponding online Xbox Live account, has been locked from online play and other functionality. As a result, depending on the infraction (and whether or not an Xbox Live user account was also banned), a player’s achievements, certain digital downloads, and even Zune access can be lost.

Even though the title has leaked, online play is currently not functional – so pirating players are limited to local campaign play. That said, a few infracting Xbox Live players were surprised to find their consoles banned – even though they didn’t play Halo 4 while connected to the online service. That’s because Microsoft uses a number of ways to determine Xbox Live infractions – including data logs that record while the console is offline.

Check out an image of the suspension notice below (click to enlarge):

Halo 4 Xbox Live Ban

Best advice? Don’t pirate games or risk the unfavorable consequences.

Despite the online leak, developer 343 Industries isn’t letting the problem undercut their enthusiasm for the game’s impending release.

Speaking to Polygon, Halo franchise director, Frank O’Conner, weighed in on the leak: “This is how surprised I am about this” O’Connor then shrugged his shoulders before asserting that its unavoidable that a major release like Halo 4 would leak online ahead of the retail release.

It’s easy to understand why the developer isn’t too fazed by the pirating – given that modded console players cannot participate in the online portion of the game. Plenty of gamers are excited to see where the Master Chief story goes in part four but there’s no doubt that many Halo fans consider multiplayer to be the most valuable part of the package – given the amount of multiplayer walkthroughs and competitive map details that have been officially released by the studio. Certainly some pirating gamers will get their Halo fix on the single player campaign but the leak timeframe is unlikely to have a major impact on sales – considering single-player only pirates aren’t likely to be canceling pre-orders (since the campaign component would have been available for pirating after November 6th).

In the meantime, for players who are willing to obtain the game legally, you can still pre-order your Halo 4 copy, watch new episodes of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, or count down the days until the David Fincher-produced Halo 4 launch trailer arrives.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick.

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Halo 4 releases November 6, 2012 for the Xbox 360.

Source: Polygon and Reddit

24 Comments

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  1. Link to suspension notice not working…

  2. My question is, if a game is complete, and ready for release, then why don’t they just release it as soon as it’s ready? I understand that anticipation and making people wait drives sales, but honestly in today’s world of entertainment, things can be made available much quicker, so in order to avoid leaks why not just release the finished product as soon as it is finished? It’s not like making people wait an extra month or two to get something is going to make them want it more. It’s been 5 years since Halo 3 came out, so do you really think an extra week or two is going to make that big of a difference? People are going to buy games like Halo 4 and CoD regardless of their release dates. It just makes no sense to me that someone can sit on a finished product and wait for a release date rather than get it out there as soon as possible.

    • I’m with you.

    • Manufacturing and scheduling, this is how business works.

    • because it comes put on the day of the election where no one has school and its easier to remember the date, and the anticipation.

    • After they are finish with the game they have to go through Manufacturing. Its business logic.

      • But if they go digital with their releases, there is no manufacturing time. I have to wonder if the digital era of gaming will push up release dates at all.

    • Remember, when you put in your game in for the first time, there is an update. A day one patch if you will. The game is still being debugged as you read this. So the games we get are not technically ready on day one.

  3. Yeah, I mean sometimes I think about that movie wise. If the movie is done and ready, why do I have to wait a month or so before I can watch it? Although nobody would know about it the first day it comes out, still, I would enjoy it o.O

  4. Too bad Halo is s***. 343 is butchering the series.

    • You haven’t even played it idiot, Halo aint s*** if the players sucks balls like yourself

      • I’m sure he’s played Halo before lol I personally don’t think Halo sucks but I think it is waaay over rated.

  5. I’m happy that Microsoft is making it clear to those who like to spoil it for others, that they will be punished where it counts.

  6. Actually, in response to the release date questions, it’s a very delicate balance sometimes. The developer just wants their game out, but the publisher needs to maximize those profits by building a proper amount of hype with advertising as well as place the game in a good position that won’t cause the title to suffer from release saturation or market confusion from similar titles. Time of the year is also important, especially in the fall, because the publishers want their titles released in that “Holiday” release bracket so the game is viable for those Christmas and other present-based celebrations (but really mostly Christmas). Movies are the same way in almost every respect for release dates, though not so much on the Holiday release scenario I think. Except that some movies can also get tied up in legal limbo between the directors and studios, like Cabin in the Woods being delayed for like three years cause Joss Whedon didn’t want to tack on 3D to the movie. So there is a reason, and it is more reasonable than you think, just gotta look at the business end.

    • Oh don’t get me wrong, I totally understand the business aspect of it for sure. The developers and publishers want to maximize their profits and ensure that the release goes by their own terms.

      I just think it’s somewhat silly to sit on a product that could be potentially leaked. I understand the need to build hype, but when it is an item that is hyped regardless of the release date – in this case Halo 4 – most fans will think that close to 5 years is more than enough time to generate hype, considering hardcore fans of the series were ready to buy it the day after they beat Halo 3.

      I put a game being held back for a release date as being the same thing as a band’s album being held back for a release date. The finished product is just sitting somewhere, but it can’t be used because someone in an office someplace decided that people can’t have it until a certain date. It’s just frustrating to know it is all done, and yet we still have to wait. Therefore, people find ways to leak and pirate it because they don’t feel they shouldn’t have to wait any longer.

      Moving forward in the digital era, where people are downloading video games, music, movies ,etc. a release date just doesn’t seem to be as important. People aren’t lining up to download an album or a new game, they are just sitting at home waiting for the minutes on the clock to tick by before they can click ‘buy’ or ‘download’ whereas with a theatrical release they are still heading out to the theatre and waiting in a box office line because they want to experience the movie that way. It’s like going to a concernt – you can’t see the band until they come to town. When you’re sitting at home and there doesn’t seem to be a reason to wait at all, it just seems silly that they make people wait for something that should be readily available.

      • Of course, on our end it’s a big waste of time, but corporations love their politics. If the winds that are blowing are a sign of things to come, I do think we will see this “waiting for the release window” mentality drop off with the sale of boxed copies getting overshadowed by digital sales. Right now we have the brick-and-mortar places like Gamestop to thank for games sitting around until the right day, because they want their Holiday releases and maximum sales (even if some of the execs claim they’d rather have a more spread out release schedule from publishers). I do also wonder if the parade of advertising like the Forward Unto Dawn miniseries put Halo 4′s release date in a vice grip as well though.

  7. Good!

  8. halos story is was is best about it an halo 1 the original had the best multiplayer large maps an tanks an stuff its not the same if it has no CTF or king of the hill it was damn funny back then spawn killing and spamming others trying to get the flag

    now what is best abut halo is the story … all it needs in multi is large maps an ctf ;… Fire-fight was ok but still garbage

  9. You pirate software, you get what you deserve.

    • Pretty much. It’s foolish to think you can get away with going online with a modded console (be it with pirated software or not). Eventually you’ll get caught. If you’re going to mod your console, at least remain offline with it. Otherwise, you’ll just waste money when you get forced out of the service.

  10. I believe that despite Halo 4 being finished, people should NOT be allowed to play it before release, I think Microsoft should work on some new security measures to prevent pirated copies from even running. Pirates get what they deserve, jail time and/or ban from services minus the hanging. Pirates are a big reason why a lot of industries suffer now a days, people obtaining copies of games, and software illegally deserve to have authorities beating down their door. This just goes to show that this generation of people are careless and those who pirate, help seal a companies fate of going under. Please ban those people!

    • I should re-phrase what I said. Pirates, are one reason why companies go under. That having said, if you wish to still be able to hop on live and enjoy this epic titles DON’T STEAL wait for the game to come out, it’s pretty sad that people cannot wait and this gives a bad name to hardcore fan boys, pirates are the bad type of fan boys.

      • That is a load of BS !! Companies Go under for lack of support and proper costumer relations .

        Wicther:2 developers already proved this theory .

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