Call of Duty: Black Ops Leaks To BitTorrent – Or Does it?

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After warnings this week that retail copies had been stolen from a pressing plant, a leak of Call of Duty: Black Ops, the follow up to last year's mind-bogglingly successful Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, seemed inevitable. As Activision sends in investigators directly to people with a copy, thousands of people on The Pirate Bay are waiting for a torrent to complete - but is it the real deal?

Black OpsIt’s been nearly a year since I, along with millions of others, all queued up for hours like idiots waiting to get our hands on a copy of the biggest game in history.

For almost everyone, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 didn’t disappoint, it’s become a pretty much permanent fixture in the drive of my Xbox 360 and has only been out a handful of times in the last year to make way for Forza 3 and the classic GTA IV.

And in just over two weeks the whole cycle of madness will start all over again.

Developed by the Treyarch studio, Call of Duty: Black Ops will be released worldwide on November 9th and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy, so much so that I pre-ordered the damn thing a couple of months ago. But some people already know how awesome it is because they managed to get hold of some leaked copies a few days ago. Bastards.

It all began earlier this week when it was reported that Xbox 360 retail versions of the game had been stolen from an Alabama pressing plant and that Treyarch’s community manager, Josh Olin, had been feverishly trying to contain the problem. The article on HookedGamers included screenshots of Olin’s Twitter discussions and also a couple of game screenshots, now removed due to a copyright complaint by publisher Activision.

Things had taken a turn for the unusual. Last week a YouTuber called 504Ghostmaker announced he had a copy of the game. He’d seen it advertised for sale on a chat forum and offered the seller $150 for it. The seller wanted $400. After striking up a deal he went to a Chili’s restaurant and met up with a guy called Ungodly to collect. So far, so good.

But later 504Ghostmaker, who also goes by the name Computer Healer, got a call from IP Cybercrime, a company hired by Activision to investigate the leak. They said they knew he had a copy of the game, apparently very politely, and gave him the chance to return it, which he did.

In a series of four videos posted to YouTube, Computer Healer tells his full story and says he had no bad intentions.

“I never made a copy of the game. I never said I was going to leak this game,” he explained. “Was I going to give a copy to my friends? Yes…. I wanted to play my game…. The best game I ever played….I wouldn’t have sold the f****** for a million dollars.”

But Healer wasn’t the only person with a copy, and IP Cybercrime’s nicely, nicely approach didn’t work first time with everyone. Apparently a young kid who had a copy of the game refused to co-operate with IP’s investigators so they contacted someone else with real authority to force compliance – his mother.

Other people with copies of the game are also confirmed to have handed them over, but now BitTorrent downloaders are hoping that the inevitable has happened. Uploaded by ‘Anonymous’, the Call.Of.Duty.Black.Ops.XBOX360-COMPLEX torrent on The Pirate Bay is getting rather a lot of attention at the moment but the big question is, is it real?

Although the release is packed up in multiple .RAR files as one might expect, the NFO file included with the release contains nonsense. While some commenters are claiming the release is real, others are stating the opposite. However, if one screenshot doing the rounds is to be believed (it’s impossible to confirm its authenticity without discovering and cross referencing all the peers currently on the torrent), not even Treyarch are convinced this is a fake torrent and are doing their own tests.

Treyarch leeching the CoD torrent

Treyarch Black Ops

This isn’t a ‘Scene’ release either so verifying its quality via the usual channels before downloading isn’t really an option. Furthermore, unlike the Xbox 360 beta version of the game which leaked out earlier, it doesn’t appear to be on Usenet either, which would be unusual for a working copy of a game this huge. There are also sundry other pointers which shout ‘fake’ but nothing conclusive until those who have completed downloads start filing reports.

Personally I’m hoping that this torrent is a fake. When I jump into Black Ops on November 9th I really, really don’t want to be shot, tubed, knifed, claymored and otherwise killed to death every 5 seconds by people who have had more than two weeks to practice before me.

So, to all those thinking of getting in dozens of hours worth of gameplay training in before me, think again. Remember last year’s epic Xbox Live banning of all those playing Modern Warfare 2 before its retail date on modded boxes? Is it worth the risk just to get a jump on me? Thought not ;)

We’ll update this post later in the day when we find out if the release is real or not


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