Although Microsoft has been extremely careful with its biggest game for Christmas – Epic Games’ – the North American standard edition of the Nov. 7 release has already appeared in pirated form on so-called “warez” sites.

Warez is the term used for sites that host pirated software.

wouldn’t comment, but a spokesperson did point out that Rodney Gray was arrested Oct. 18 in Memphis, Tenn. Authorities said Gray had a bag of pirated copies of "Gears of War 2" and Microsoft’s “Fable 2,” as well as numerous DVDs that have yet to be released.

Michael Pachter, videogame analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, said the piracy will have no impact on the sales of "Gears of War 2." He expects the game to sell 5 million copies worldwide this year.

Microsoft has already announced that pre-order sales for "Gears of War 2" have topped pre-orders from the original game, although the company did not specify any numbers.

The original "Gears" sold more than 4 million copies following its release two years ago. Epic has turned the game into an entertainment conglomerate with movie, book, graphic novel, action figure and toy tie-ins.

Memphis police confiscated 97 pirated copies of the games and 807 illegal copies of DVDs, all valued at over $100,000. Police said they did not know how many games or DVDs Gray might have sold before they arrested him.

A Microsoft spokesman said, "We do not comment on police investigations in progress" when asked about the pirated "Gears of War 2" game.

Technicolor uses a Memphis facility for disc and game packaging, warehousing, distribution and production. Police said they were investigating the incident and might make other arrests.

It’s likely that at least one copy of an illegal Xbox 360 version of the game made its way to the Internet. The pirated version of the game, posted by "x360jnT," was 6.76GB large and divided into 73 “RAR” files. Pirated Xbox 360 games will not work on a standard Microsoft console. Gamers have to modify consoles to play an illegal game on them.

Cliff Bleszinski, lead game designer at Epic Games, had previously told numerous gaming sites that there would be no PC version of "Gears of War 2" and listed the need for multiple PC configurations and piracy as the main reasons. Epic released "Gears of War" in 2006 and a PC version of the game in 2007. "Gears of War 2" will only be released on Xbox 360.

Traditionally, Microsoft sends out early game code to members of the media for its big releases. Although the company did this with "Fable II," it did not send out any early code for "Gears of War 2." In fact, the only way print and online journalists were able to play the game early was at events at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and at the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco over the past two months.