If you are someone who enjoys playing video games you are probably familiar with the feeling of excitement you get when a new game that looks like it is right up your alley gets announced. Oftentimes such an announcement is made months, if not a year, before the company is planning to release the game. That can be frustrating because you just got so excited that you want to play the game immediately; but alas, you will have to wait. Or so you would think.
You yourself probably play games for a hobby, but there are people who actually make money off of playing and/or reviewing video games. Some of these people manage to get a good reputation and make connections with video game developers. Oftentimes these people will then receive copies of unreleased games so they can start preparing content ahead of the release. The main reason one would want to do this is because as soon as you get the green light you can post your content online and as you are the first person (or are among the first people) to release content on the new game your content is almost guaranteed to collect lots of views. For anyone who is not aware of how these content creators make money by accumulating views: content usually contains advertisements and the creators get money for having companies show their advertisements. In other words, content creators get paid by companies for giving their products exposure. The more people watch your video, the more advertisements get shown and as such the more money you earn.
Coming back to having to wait for a new game; it is not unusual for information about unreleased games to be leaked on the internet. Leaks in themselves are mostly only harmful to those who wished to keep most of the game a surprise. Knowing what is going to happen in the game you are looking forward to playing is like knowing what presents you are going to get for Christmas. However, these leaks actually have far bigger implications. Many developers feel wronged when people leak their hard work which results in them putting less and less effort into new games. In addition to that, developers lose trust in content creators so they will send out fewer copies before the official release. So in the end multiple groups of people get hurt when game footage is leaked.
The most recent example of leaked game footage is Nintendo’s highly anticipated Super Smash Bros.: Ultimate. Nintendo’s wildly popular Smash Bros series consists of fighting games in which Nintendo characters from different franchises battle each other. In December the newest installment in this series shall be released and fans are very much looking forward to it. Even though the release is still two weeks away, not too long ago footage of the single-player story mode has been leaked. The main director if this series, Masahiro Sakura, has expressed in the past that he hates for his work to be spoiled in advance and it was actually highly probable that he was never going to make a story mode for Smash ever again after the last one in Super Smash Bros.: Brawl was leaked. The fact that his hard work was defiled yet again shows that a small group of gamers has absolutely no respect for game developers’ work.
Now you might ask yourself: “If everyone hates leaks, then why do people leak?” The answer is quite simple: some people actually love leaks. Especially the kind of leaks that invoke discussions about the game. If gameplay mechanics are leaked people enjoy discussing the changes made compared to the last game. If new character designs are leaked people enjoy sharing their opinions on those too. There is even some element of mystery to it: is this leak genuine or is it fake? Leaks usually result in a lot of extra excitement among gamers despite there being a big group that avoids them like the plague. I personally dislike leaks and tend to avoid them. Minor spoilers are usually not a problem, but knowing how the game is going to play out in advance does take away some of the fun. I hope leaks will become less frequent in the future, but I currently see no way to stop people from leaking. The only thing I can try to do is express my own opinion on the issue and hope for the best.
- ‘Masahiro Sakurai Rules Out Story Sequences For Super Smash Bros. on Wii U and 3DS’ http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2013/07/masahiro_sakurai_rules_out_story_sequences_for_super_smash_bros_on_wii_u_and_3ds
- ‘Assessing The Impact Of Leaks In The Games Industry’ https://www.gamerevolution.com/features/13950-assessing-the-impact-of-leaks-in-the-games-industry
- ‘I Got Internet Famous Leaking Gaming Info From Toys “R” Us’ https://kotaku.com/i-got-internet-famous-leaking-games-from-toys-r-us-1788187772
This is interesting – I agree that leaks are really disrespectful to an artist/creator of the software. It could also potentially inspire “ripoff” versions of the same game or product, completely wasting a game developer’s efforts. I think the same goes for music, leaks are so common and I don’t understand the point of it either. But the truth is that there isn’t really a way to stop it because of the community that “love leaks”.
I agree with you: it must be very annoying for the creators to have their games leaked, in any kind of way.
It might have a positive side: the RDR2 screenshots were leaked pretty long in advance, which made people even more excited about the game. The screenshots is what got me and my friends interested in the first place. It may help to reach a bigger audience.