Leaks and rumours – a curse or a blessing for the industry?

Jun 11 2019 6 min read

Leaks and rumours – a curse or a blessing for the industry? ⚡⚡⚡ Esports and gaming news, analytics, reviews on WePlay! The latest news on WePlay!

We live in a world tightly interconnected with networks, and the information spreads out so fast that it might not even take a full minute before everyone on the planet knows the story. It’s not just about the official sources – every citizen equipped with a mobile phone can share their findings in seconds. In such circumstances, it is exceptionally hard to keep something a secret – and in regards to the gaming industry, it’s a tangible issue. We all love good leaks and rumours, but very few of us tend to think about it in the context of digital security. Do we really benefit from prematurely revealed information – or maybe we’ve lost the sense of true anticipation?

 

We are getting used – and we are enjoying it

The flow of leaks and rumours is generally stronger in the wake of huge shows and events – just like it’s been happening right before E3 2019, for instance. One particular leak touched upon the newest project by Ninja Theory. The studio was blessed with talented people who gifted us some extraordinary games, and Hellblade, perhaps, was the peak of their efforts to create unique experiences. What we’ve learned from the leak? That these truly masterful devs turned their backs to thoroughly crafted singleplayer stories in order to create just another featureless multiplayer hero action called Bleeding Edge under Microsoft’s supervision. The information proved to be true and was officially confirmed during the show. But what was the point of leaking it prematurely? To let the fan base get upset a day before? To neglect the power of sheer amusement when you hear something exciting for the first time? We might’ve lost the studio we loved for its approach towards creating singleplayer worlds – but at the same time, we’ve also lost our right to know the information at the exact point it was supposed to be revealed.

There’s literally nothing cool about discovering the rumours.

This is a huge problem. You might argue that the particular example of Bleeding Edge doesn’t work so well because it was actually a piece of “bad news,” but it doesn’t really matter whether it is good or bad. Imagine for instance that you’ve been waiting for inspiring news regarding your favourite game – and you read a related rumour a week before only to learn later that it was partially true. Your initial impression could’ve been much stronger – but the chance was lost. Video leaks also tend to suffer from low quality – they are often poor camrips made at closed press conferences with potato devices. There’s literally nothing cool about discovering the rumours – mostly due to the fact that there’s no clear advantage. Or even worse – imagine the world where Keanu’s involvement in Cyberpunk 2077 leaked before the official reveal at E3 2019. That would’ve been a total disaster – and the author of the leak would definitely be the only person to benefit from it. Don’t fool yourselves – we get nothing from such cheap leaks and rumours; we are just being used as we are the source of the demand for such “revelations.”

 

This is why we can’t have nice things

There’re of course companies that can handle keeping secrets impressively well. You don’t often hear any rumours in regards to Bethesda, do you? Well, apart from that story with Rage 2. There isn’t a failsafe recipe though to avoid leaks at all – some companies are just lucky to be the victims of rumours much less often than the others. And while for the general public the consequences of spread leaks and rumours usually narrow down to spoiled expectations, the result for companies might be really harmful. While the work on a project is still in progress, the unwanted leak might lead to negative feedback from the community, which in return could affect the development process. There’s an example in other entertainment industry – in the movie one. When the script for Tarantino’s “The Hateful Eight” leaked, the legendary director was so devastated that he decided to never shoot the film because of that. The actors managed to convince him not to do that, but we were this close to never enjoying the wonderful film. How long do we have to wait until something like that occurs in the gaming industry? Do you want the next Elder Scrolls to be cancelled because of the actions of some mindless leakers? It won’t necessarily happen that way, of course, but the danger should not be underestimated.

The result for companies might be really harmful.

There’s another side to this story when the employees deliberately share “secret” information in order to examine the early feedback based on the initial concept of the game in development – or to start a subtle promotional campaign this way. Apex Legends could serve as a great example of such an approach – the game was actually leaked a full year before it was officially announced and released, and the leak in question has almost certainly been an “official” one. In other words, the early information was shared intentionally, and the scarce feedback didn’t really result in any excitement in the gaming community over the proposed Battle Royale Titanfall spin-off. Perhaps, it was valuable nonetheless, as we only heard about the game a year after that – and apparently, Respawn did a great job during that time to address the existing issues. Anyway, the idea of information leaked by the developers is a reasonable one, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong about that. But when you put your soul into the project only to see it leaked by some overly excited fool trying to boost their popularity on social media – well, that’s just a shame.

 

You had my curiosity. Now you have my attention

Unfortunately, media outlets love spreading the rumours and leaks since they tend to draw attention – and being recognized on the Internet means a lot. If you happen to be among the first websites and social media accounts to share the hottest unconfirmed/rumoured topic – then you win the viewers’ and readers’ hearts, and they might return after in search for something else. It’s like becoming addicted to a drug – theoretically, of course. We can’t say that we are the proud defenders of someone else’s intellectual property, as we are also guilty of committing such informational sins. There’s very little that can be done to avoid the circulation of leaks and rumours across the Web – simply because if you don’t do it, someone else will. What can be done, though, is to recall the very basic idea of journalism. Sharing a leak is not an example of hard work by any means. But take for instance the huge and deep investigations by Kotaku’s editor Jason Schreier. It is worth mentioning though that he also doesn’t often mind to spread an unconfirmed rumour or two – just like the rest of us.

Sharing a leak is not an example of hard work by any means.

However, his investigations can serve as the best example of turning the idea of silly leaks into professional journalism that is compelling, exciting, and fair towards the community. Thanks to Jason, we’ve recently learned that once beloved Blizzard cancelled a promising shooter in the universe of StarCraft – only to focus on Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 instead. This kind of leak is not something you’ll afterwards hear from the developers themselves – such information tends to stay unrevealed by the companies so they don’t lose the trust of the audience. This is something that the companies always try to hide, it is even somewhat close to a lie – and that’s what makes such information priceless and worthy of sharing. So that we know more, we know better about what is actually happening in the gaming industry. This is a community-oriented approach – and, perhaps, this is the only kind of leak that can be justified.

 

In other words, it’s almost impossible to fight off the concept of leaks and rumours. But with joined forces of professionals, media outlets can show another side of it, which will benefit the community and the industry. At the end of the day, no one likes movie spoilers. So how come you find any satisfaction in the leaks if they literally do the same – spoil the surprise?


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