Microsoft Threatens Lifetime Xbox Live Ban To Pirates After ‘Gears of War: Judgement’ Leaked Online

Company says it is aware of "isolated cases" of piracy.

on February 19 2013 12:26 PM

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) has vowed to take "vigorous action" against any pirates who illegally download leaked copies of its upcoming Xbox 360 exclusive video game, “Gears of War: Judgment,” which is slated for release on the Xbox 360 on March 19.

Scheduled for a full commercial release next month, “Gears of War: Judgement” began to appear online on a number of torrent websites late Monday night, Eurogamer reports. While it remains unclear whether or not the leaked version of “Gears of War” is representative of the completed game, game play videos began to appear online almost immediately after the initial torrent leak was discovered.

Microsoft responded to the leak with a statement saying that it was aware of “isolated” incidents of piracy, later releasing its own “Gears of War” multiplayer game play video to assuage fans with preview material of its own.

"We are aware of isolated cases in which ‘Gears of War: Judgment’ content has been propped on the Web and are working closely with our security teams and law enforcement to address the situation immediately,” the Redmond, Wash.-based company said. "Consumers should be aware that piracy is illegal and we take vigorous action against illegal activity related to our products and services."

Microsoft promised it would take swift action against pirates much in the same way it threatened ‘Halo 4’ pirates when that game began to appear online before its official commercial releasee, banning known users of leaked material from its online gaming and content streaming service Xbox Live Arcade, or XBLA.

“Halo 4” and “Gears of War: Judgment” are two of Microsoft’s last remaining exclusive console titles, making their protection from pirates all the more important for a company that both produces its own consoles and publishes console-specific game properties. However, many developers on highly anticipated titles like these see piracy and leaks as a necessarily evil to working on such a high-profile brand. In the aftermath of the reported “Halo 4” leak, "Halo" franchise director Frank O'Connor told the gaming site Polygon that publishers’ responses are invariably slower than the speed at which material is leaked, and piracy itself is generally unsurprising.

“This is how surprised I am about this,” O'Connor told Polygon, shrugging.

"Playing pirated copies of games, such as 'Gears of War: Judgment' is a violation of the Xbox Live Terms of Use and will result in enforcement action, such as account and console bans," Microsoft said in a statement.

Microsoft fell slightly below its Monday closing price of $28.01 per share on Tuesday morning trading, falling to $27.80 at the start of trading before recovering shortly after 10:00 am EST.

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