Editorial: Are leaks cool, or annoying?

By Jake Rushing

Ah, welcome to the golden age of the internet. Where everything can get accessed at the tip of your fingers, and where eager fans of the most beloved franchises (i.e. Kingdom Hearts, Halo, Super Smash Bros, any Marvel movie) search for any new information they can find in regards to the upcoming release of the next entry of their favorite franchise, or the next release of DLC of their most beloved game. With the technology expanding so fast, the internet is being seen as less of a luxury and more of a basic utility, and with the demand to know more about the upcoming releases the fans have been clamoring about, this created a minor yet very inconvenient time where leaks are now to be expected for big upcoming releases of marquee franchises.

Case in point, here’s an example that happened not too long ago. A lot of people were very eager to learn more about any upcoming DLC of Super Smash Bros. (as the series is is no stranger to leaks). Now, there are people who either seek the unknown content, or happen to stumble across a certain leak, and then they’d be eager to post their findings to the internet prior to the release of the game, or as of now, upcoming DLC. One example leaked the roster about a couple of months before the release (Kotaku wrote about it here), while the most recent example of the game showed victory videos of Roy and Ryu right before the confirmation of these characters via Nintendo Direct stream (with IGN covering that here). As cool as it is to know who will be in the game ahead of the time, just finding out before the release (regardless of whether or not it’s just a rumor) kind of ruined the surprise for the people here. To me, it felt like my uncle telling me that I’m getting a Super Nintendo for Christmas just days before I got that gift for Christmas from Santa Claus. Of course, I would be super grateful for getting the console, but part of the surprise of receiving that gift would be gone, because by then I already knew what I’ll be getting ahead of time. Am I the only on here who’s irked by these kind of surprise-killing leaks?

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Of course, players are not the only people who are irked by the leaks. Consider the game developers who worked hard for hours with the blood, sweat and tears they put into their work for weeks on end, only to find some of their work is revealed before they could bring their demo (or usually their final product) to the public. Even big name developers, such as EA Games, have been fighting leaks with multiple games throughout the years. As of now, EA Games have been scratching their heads on how the footage of the alpha version of Star Wars Battlefront managed to get leaked. Of course, this was due to a certain excited player who wanted to share the footage over the internet. Not to mention, this wasn’t the first time that they have faced leaks. (Can’t they just get this whole entire leak thing nailed down by now?) I’m sure it’s flattering that their games were highly anticipated to the point that these people saw fit to release the leaks. But all the same, they can be at least as annoying to the developers as they are for a good amount of consumers who happen to come across them online.

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EA Games? More like EAL (Excellent At Leaking) Games!

Not entirely convinced? Perhaps you’re thinking to yourself, “But Jake, I don’t think that analogy works here. I mean, people would be excited to see that new content regardless of when it would be revealed. These leaks just reveal the content sooner than the release!” Even if people are indifferent to spoilers (such as myself, actually), the emotions through all consumers would run at maximum at the same time if announcements of upcoming games or game content were only revealed by publishers/developers behind these games. Sony’s most recent E3 Press Conference event was the perfect example, as Ys Net and Square Enix revealed their highly anticipated respective titles, Shenmue III and the tremendously hyped Final Fantasy VII remake. Without knowledge of any of these games beforehand via leaks, the feelings of surprise, followed by excitement, ran high throughout the auditorium at both of these reveals. These pure emotions provided a great level of satisfaction and motivation to these developers, which gave them a great push to finish their games.

Of course, not all leaks can be classified as legitimate spoilers, as there are exceptions to that rule. There are leaks out in existence that reveal some crucial information, but not content. For example, trailer leaks don’t necessarily spoil what’s to come, as they provide a little tease of what to expect when the final product comes out. The only difference between the leaked trailer and the official trailer reveal is…well time really. The Persona 5 trailer was leaked around June 24th recently, which made the game’s fans rejoice, as they were able to see what has been going on with Persona, whether Atlus Games liked it or not. And it gave Persona fans much more to be desired.

So next time you see something bigger than a trailer that you’re dying to know, before you share it, just imagine the ruined surprise that you’ll get from viewing that leak, as well as spoiling it for the others. If, for whatever reason, you couldn’t help yourself but show it to the public, at least show some class and put in the word “SPOILERS” somewhere in the title to give adequate warning. If you can’t even do that, just don’t even bother showing it, as you’ll ruin it for potential consumers as well as developers who work hard on their final product.

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