Halo 4 pirates feel the wrath of Microsoft's banhammer

Halo 4 will definitely be one of the biggest games of the year, so it really isn't much of a surprise that some Xbox 360 owners are eager to download a pirated version of the game that popped up on torrent sites over the weekend. Microsoft isn't taking this leak lightly though, as MCV reports that the company is handing out permanent Xbox Live bans to anyone caught playing the game with their console connected to the Internet. In other words, you might want to think twice before taking advantage of those Halo 4 torrents.

Of course, pirated versions of Halo 4 will only work on modded Xbox 360s, and why anyone would take their modded console onto Xbox Live is entirely beyond us. Some particularly dumb 360 owners are doing just that, though, as evidenced by the email MCV posted. The email is from the Live Enforcement Team, and lets the user know that they've violated the Xbox Live Code of Conduct. The punishment? Permaban, baby.

Though the email states that users won't be able to log into Xbox Live during their suspension (which is never-ending in this case), it's a little unclear at the moment if Microsoft is banning consoles or just gamertags – two very different things. If Microsoft is banning consoles, that means the console will never be able to access Xbox Live again, effectively bricking it as far as multiplayer and Xbox Live Arcade are concerned. If Microsoft is only banning gamertags, then the infringing gamer could just create a new tag and go online with that, which is a far less severe punishment.

In any case, you're in for some headaches if you're caught playing Halo 4 ahead of release while your 360 is connected to Live. Microsoft has launched an investigation to find out who leaked Halo 4 ahead of release, but in the meantime, the company is showing us that it has no problem at all with dropping the banhammer left and right. We're going to go ahead and suggest that you just wait for Halo 4's official release on November 6 – yes, its release is still a few weeks off, but we're thinking that waiting three weeks is much better than having your Xbox Live privileges taken away.