According to translations of Japanese gaming blog Esuteru, From Software, creators of upcoming game Dark Souls, have an interesting plan to deal with gamers who play the game before its official release date: Murder them. In the game, of course.
Esuteru is reporting that level 145 "Black Phantoms" are roaming around the Dark Souls world, and the way-overpowered monsters mean instant death for anyone who sees them. Apparently, the characters are being controlled by game-devs to punish gamers who are somehow in the game before the official release date.
It's hard to tell if this story is true or not, but if it is accurate, it kind of sucks. I hate hearing any stories of publishers doing anything negative to people who break street dates. Most normal people don't have game release dates memorized, and many smaller retailers compete with big box stores by selling games early, so it's plausible that a gamer could walk into a Mom and Pop game store and say, "This game looks cool!" and walk out with a $60 game that is rendered all but unplayable through no fault of his or her own.
On the other hand, I understand part of the allure of Dark Souls is its head-crushing difficulty, and being killed by a pre-release mega monster would be kind of a badge of honor.
The game streets here in the U.S. on October 4, and if I see a copy early, I'm definitely going to check it out, just to see if these strange rumors are true for the US version!