As the gaming world comes to terms with Halo 2's dramatic leak nearly a month ahead of release, developer Bungie has quietly responded by way of an updated warning on its community forum, which promises to ban gamers who posted leaked information or spoilers, and even ban certain Xbox Live gamertags from the game's online component.
Responding to news of the leaked version - which has been circulating in various illegal channels since yesterday - the developer said, "It would seem that the French PAL version of the game has surfaced on the Internet." As for its origins: "This is almost positively the work of some jerk in the manufacturing plant who pocketed the game as it is being printed in mass for world release on the 9th of November," the update concluded.
And the developer plans to come down hard on anybody who tries to spoil the experience for others - or even references leaked material. "A link or offer to give out a link via private media on the forums will get you banned permanently," the update emphasised. "The same goes for any kind of leak-related spoiler information. Further, you risk having you Xbox Live account's ability to play Halo 2 crippled as we can and will ban gamertags from access to vital parts of Halo 2's online experience. We are NOT kidding around here. There will be no warning, no appeal, you'll just be gone."
Whether this is a reference to the way that modified Xbox consoles can be identified - and blocked - as they log on to Xbox Live, or a promise to ban users based on their behaviour on the forums alone, is unclear, but it's plain nonetheless that Bungie is taking the leak very seriously and plans to do its utmost to safeguard the surprises it has in store.
As for the fate of those behind the leak: "There's no doubt in my mind that Microsoft has people tracking down whoever was responsible for this," the update opines. "I hope whoever it was thought that leaking the game was worth his job, I hear the Microsoft legal team employ some very effective ninja."
Microsoft yesterday slammed the "thieves" behind the piracy and vowed to track them down and pursue them to the fullest extent of the law. The publisher also said that plans for the game's release on November 9th in the US, and on the 10th and 11th across the rest of the world, will be unaffected by the controversy.
Meanwhile, in slightly more positive news, music label Sumthing Else has confirmed the track listing for the Halo 2 soundtrack CD, which is due out alongside the game. You're unlikely to regard the track names as spoilers, but we guess it's a possibility, so you might want to avoid this link if you're particularly concerned.