Kmart sold Modern Warfare 3 early, copies wind up on eBay [update 2: pre-release probably OK?]

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Rumors have been circulating today that Kmart stores have been selling copies of Modern Warfare 3 prior to its official debut next week. It's clear that a handful of copies were definitely sold, as several eBay listings for the game have been popping up (and taken down) all day.

At least one listing that is still active does indeed include a picture of a Kmart receipt. It seems the company got wise to the error, as all the locations we called reported the November 8 release. We suppose if you really want MW3 five days early, you might be able to snag one. Of course, that's assuming you're willing to pay upwards of $100 and the listing survives underneath eBay's watchful gaze.

Incidentally, if you find yourself with a legitimate retail Xbox copy, don't worry about playing it early. Stephen Toulouse, Microsoft's Xbox Live guru, has given the all-clear on Twitter.

Update: Stephen Toulouse has posted a new update on Twitter, stating that Activision has not authorized pre-release play of Modern Warfare 3. According to Toulouse, "Playing early may impact your account!" Seems a bit unfair to anyone who may have legitimately purchased the game from a retailer, but there you go.

Update 2: Now Both Infinity Ward Community Dude Robert Bowling and Mr. Toulouse have clarified that players with early copies of Modern Warfare 3 will not be banned or otherwise punished for playing the game online. We think. Who can tell at this point?

[Thanks, Mike]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.