Playing Modern Warfare 3 Early Actually Can Get You Banned

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3

Contradicting what we learned yesterday, those who decide to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 before release on Xbox 360 apparently are risking their Xbox Live accounts.

Xbox Live director of policy and enforcement Stephen Toulouse stated on Twitter yesterday that those who obtained a legitimate copy of the game — which went on sale at certain stores ahead of its planned November 8 release — were safe to play on Live. Since then, he has written a follow-up tweet stating Activision doesn’t want people playing early and that doing so puts your account at risk.

“clarification: dblchk’d with Activision,” he wrote. “Mw3 pre-release play not authorized. So pls be patient. Playing early may impact your account!”

It’s not the greatest method for getting the word out as not everyone goes on Twitter or follows Toulouse. At the same time, what he said is no guarantee that your account will be immediately banned the second you get online, but the contradictory messaging is only going to lead to confusion over what is and isn’t allowed. That’s also not to mention how someone who legitimately buys the game early and goes home to play it isn’t doing anything wrong — it isn’t their fault the game was sold early.

In addition to the stores that began selling it this week, copies have hit places like eBay and Craigslist. One eBay auction for an Xbox 360 version in particular (via Joystiq) saw 88 bids that reached $1,725. Whether the buyer will actually play that exorbitant amount for a game coming in just a few days’ time — let alone a game that could get you banned — is unclear, but the winning bidder was not the only person willing to bid hundreds of a dollars for an early copy.

We’re checking with Microsoft to find out exactly what the deal is with these potential bans and if users will be given any notification before being banned.

Amit Teli