Online piracy of console and PC games, especially major AAA titles, continues to be a big issue for game developers and publishers. The latest such incident involves Mass Effect 3, perhaps the most anticipated game to be released in the first quarter of 2012.
VentureBeat reports that both the PC and the Xbox 360 ports of the latest action-RPG from developer BioWare have found their way onto a number of known torrent file sharing sites. It adds that a hack is needed to play the Xbox 360 version of the game.
While it's currently unknown how the PC port of Mass Effect 3 got leaked, it's possible that the Xbox 360 version found its way onto the Internet via one of the copies that BioWare and publisher Electronic Arts sent out into "space" (actually up to a very high altitude via a weather balloon) last week. The promotion was supposed to be designed to give a few lucky gamers an early copy of the game before its planned launch.
It's likely that Mass Effect 3 will still sell millions of copies when it officially goes on sale Tuesday. However, the fact that full versions of major game titles continue to find their way to online piracy sites before they are scheduled to come out continues to be a large thorn in the side of the game industry.
Update - The PS3 version of Mass Effect 3 has apparently found its way on torrent sites as well.