Microsoft has said it will not lower the boom on U.K. game retailer Argos for prematurely selling copies of the long-awaited Halo 3.

Speaking to at a press event, Microsoft’s Neil Thompson said the company believed it was a legitimate mistake, citing the efforts made by Argos to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “From what I understand of it, it was an honest and genuine mistake,” Thompson said. “I’m disappointed that it happened because of the turmoil it creates, but I totally understand that in every organization sometimes it’s tough to manage every particular aspect of your supply chain and everything, to the nth degree, so that something won’t go wrong at some point.”

He also added that while he was happy other companies hadn’t used the error as an excuse to sell their own copies of Halo 3 prior to the official release, Microsoft wouldn’t be so forgiving with anyone else who did. “We’ve been very clear with retailers that if they do choose to go down that path, then a lot of the support that we’ve given them, in marketing and things like that – that has an impact on it,” he said. “We’re pretty forceful in our approach to these things, because we want it to be a fair market for all.”

Argos’ website had listed Halo 3 as being available on September 19, and some copies were purchased before the error was corrected. Following the mistake, Argos issued a statement, which said, “We are aware that a genuine administrative error has resulted in a small number of cases where Halo 3 has already been sold. We are currently ensuring that there are no further sales of this product in-store until the official release date, Wednesday 26 September. We have already taken steps to ensure that Halo 3 is unavailable on the Argos website for reservation or purchase until the correct date.”

Following initial confusion concerning the potential banning from Xbox Live of players with Argos-purchased copies of Halo 3, Microsoft issued a statement saying those who had legitimately acquired the game as a result of the mistake would not face sanctions. Halo 3, one of the most anticipated releases for the Xbox 360, will be released on September 25 in North America and September 26 in Europe.

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