2018 has been a wild year for leaks. On just the road to E3 2018, it almost feels like there’s nothing left to surprise us! We’ve had leaks from Ubisoft, Bethesda, and Nintendo, among others. Yes, even Nintendo! Now, the way people in the gaming community react to leaks is all over the place. Leaking insider gaming info, due to the hardcore secrecy of the industry, is almost a little subculture of its own, with Twitter and YouTube personalities gaining clout over their information prowess. These folks have fanbases of their own, and often exist outside the normal circles of the gaming press. But it’s not all fun and games, either. Some gamers get really pissed when they see news leaked ahead of announcements, especially stuff that was being prepared for E3. These events and announcements are sacred for them, and having some writer they don’t know spoil the big show ruins the whole thing for them.
For a testament to how much fun people have with leaks and how much the culture has grown to be celebratory, let’s look at the most recent Pokemon announcements from Nintendo and the Pokemon Company. Things really got rolling the month or so before the official announcements, but the manner in which it went down was wild. One leaker with a popular Twitter account, Pixelpar, was sharing a series of Pokemon drawings, sans context. Later on, they revealed the drawings were a series of hints at the next game, and the Internet exploded!
Then, not much later, the Pokemon: Let’s Go series was announced. While most folks were busy being excited about the new trailer, the next few days were full of headlines about how leaks for these games came even earlier, buried in random places and even fake April Fools posts on 4chan. That in and of itself caused activity in the scene. Whether people are impressed that there are folks out there with secret access, or whether the joy of finding clues or surprises within the leaking itself, there’s no denying it’s a whole thing now (and probably explains the growing frequency of leaks as well).
Meanwhile, we recently have seen leaks for games such as Assassins Creed Odyssey, Fallout: 76, and even things like Fortnite, Killer Queen Black, and Overcooked 2 for the Nintendo Switch. Many of these leaks were reported by Kotaku, as they came from sources career journalists were more comfortable corroborating. All it takes is one look at the Twitter replies on many of these posts to see negative responses to these news pieces, and sometimes even genuine anger. And no, I’m not just talking about people upset Fallout: 76 might be an online, survival game. I’m talking about people lashing out at the reporters, such as Kotaku’s Jason Schreier, for the act of reporting news. Aka, doing their jobs.
I do understand this point of view, on paper. For those not working in games, E3 has sort of been this magical time of year, a Super Bowl or WrestleMania of people in blazers on a stage announcing new video games. There’s a majesty to it, a degree of myth to the event based all around everyone on the inside and out treating it like an endless chain of Gatorade Hype Moments. Having the “holy crap, that logo means a new thing from that company!” moments taken away because Ubisoft shipped some keychains to European retailers a bit early probably feels crappy for Joe Gamer. But also hanging out around places like Kotaku in E3 season maybe not the best idea if you’re worried about “spoilers.”
So there we have it: two sides of the same nerdy-ass coin that is being flipped more and more as time goes on. It’s interesting, right? Personally, I enjoy the leak culture, albeit from a distance. For one thing, I like it because it makes my job a lot easier. For another, it’s fun to see people running in circles every time someone like Pixelpar or Liam Robertson tweets out a picture of Super Mario. It’s like a whole new subculture based on metagaming a system that historically is worse than any other entertainment industry at letting fans know things. That said, I get why others don’t like leaks for the reasons I mentioned above. So, readers, what do you think? Does it make you sad when marketing plans go awry due to leaky faucets? Or do you have fun scouring the Internet for as much scuttlebutt as possible?