Source: Numerous Web reports, mostly in the UK.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: Gun-happy gamers can't wait until the release of Black, Electronic Arts' first-person shooter that its creators refer to as "gun porn." The Xbox and PlayStation 2 game has already gone gold and is scheduled for release February 28.
Unfortunately for EA, some gamers are already unloading clip after clip and blasting through the game. The game is rumored to have been leaked onto the Internet a few weeks before it hits shelves. Files that are apparently the PAL version of the game have begun appearing on servers and torrents for anyone to download.
The Web site Console News has a listing for the game in its database of pirated games, but does not tell gamers where to download it. GameSpot has found a site that has a list of sequential files titled "Black-PAL-XBOXDVD" on it, with all but one of the 33 files weighing in at 47MB apiece. However, the files were not downloaded to test authenticity.
This doesn't mean that any Joe Schmo with an Xbox and an Internet connection can grab the game and begin blasting away. The file must first be found, burned to DVD, and played in an illegally modded Xbox or PS2.
So if it is indeed the full game, how does it get leaked on the Internet? Hackers? Covert espionage? The answer is possibly closer to home. In light of EA's recent layoffs of more than 300 staffers, a disgruntled employee may have actually thrown the game onto the Web to spite the company.
A high-profile game getting leaked on the Internet before it's released!? Stop the presses! Though steps have been made to slow illegal trading, piracy remains rampant and is incredibly difficult to police. Obviously, it isn't just games that make their way around the Internet illegally; the film and music industries are really struggling with pirated versions of their products hitting the Web, with many merely a few clicks away.
EA had little to say on the matter, and making the best out of the situation, used the opportunity to promote the game: "EA does not condone piracy. EA looks forward to delivering Black, a world-class game, on February 28 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. "
Bogus or not bogus?: Criterion worked good and hard on this game, so we hope it's bogus. Unfortunately, it's looking more and more not bogus. As for a disgruntled ex-employee throwing the game on the Web for all to see? If it's true, only one person knows for certain.