One of EA's biggest releases of the year - the Sims 3 - has leaked onto file sharing networks, nearly 3 weeks prior to its official release date.

Over 15,000 people are downloading it at the time of writing, with one torrent alone scoring nearly 12,000 of those. Instructions provided with the torrent urge gamers to set firewalls so that the game isn't able to connect to the Internet.

EA executives won't be too happy, particularly as they've announced previously that it will ship without the DRM that hurt sales of Spore. Only a product key is necessary to activate the game.

However, it's likely that the franchise, like the Wolverine movie, won't be hit too hard. After all, Sims 2 and its expansion packs still feature in the bestsellers list, despite being over 5 years old. There's no reason to expect the new release to perform any worse.