Oct 4, 2013
The gaming industry has had its fair share of information leaks throughout the years, and while this can be irritating for developers, gamers are often more than happy to see any quality of image or video regarding upcoming titles. However, does this influence the developers, and does this have an impact on the game leading up to its release? On some occasions, it could work well – it creates a discussion point for the game, and it is getting talked about. On the other hand, the discussion could be negative.
Several of the ‘good’ elements that leaks may bring is snippets of content from game-play, potential story-worlds, characters, maps etc. Although this might be a nuisance to developers who wish to keep the content behind closed doors, it could add to the hype and excitement for a particular title. For instance, Rockstar said a few months ago that the map for Grand Theft Auto 5 would be huge and unlike nothing gamers had seen before from a GTA game. This was contextualised when images surfaced online of the GTA 5 map at the beginning of September, demonstrating just how big it truly was. For those unsure as to whether they wished to purchase the game or not (which is apparently not a lot), it could function as a way to persuade them to parting with their cash.
Recently, of course, news surfaced that Valve trademarked Half-Life 3. Naturally, the internet caught on to this news and it quickly spread to all whom it may concern. Half-Life 2 was released in 2004, and since then “Half-Life 3 Confirmed!” has become somewhat of an internet meme, where many online comments often derail discussion to demonstrate how something completely unrelated is hinting towards Half-Life 3‘s announcement. Although nothing has been confirmed or announced by Valve, this is more any Half-Life fan has been offered in terms of ‘hinting’ at Half-Life 3. This does, however, neatly ties into the recent announcement of the Steam’s new OS and Gamepad. Add Valve’s signature game, and you have a great threesome of information to fuel the rumour-mill. Steam OS, Steam Controller, Half-Life 3 trademarked – Steam do three things in a week – the number three – HL3 Confirmed!
Just this week, news surfaced that several shops in Canada had released the latest two Pokémon games, Pokémon X and Pokémon Y , two weeks before its global launch. Gamers took to the internet and began posting pictures and screenshots of the game and showing their findings, such as new Pokémon, different types of customisation and several of the gym leaders (regarding their type specialities).
However, when leaks do appear, it can sometimes be difficult to know which leaks are real, and which leaks are fake. For example, with regards to the Pokémon leak, many of the new Pokémon leaked online are nothing more than a clever piece of photo editing – they are simple fake. It’s important to take gaming leaks with a pinch of salt, as there are many people online who take joy in producing their own content to “show off” their leaked information, but are only doing so to be a pest.
On the other hand, even if you know that leaked images are real, you may be underwhelmed by what the game has to offer, and it could sour your anticipation for a title you initially desired. If a game is being developed over several years, a leak which showcases some of the work in progress might make some gamers ask the question: “Is this all this has to offer?” Although it might be far from the finished product, gamers may still be discouraged and put off from making the purchase when the game is released. Furthermore, leaked content may also contain various spoilers, which can ruin many of the core elements to the game, especially if it is heavily story driven. By removing such a key part to a title, this may cause gamers to have second thoughts about whether they want to make the purchase. Due to the fast-paced nature of the internet, people could quickly get caught up on reading leaks, and accidentally view spoilers for games they are interested without realising straight away, and only afterwards do they regret going down the online rabbit-hole of information.
Another important thing to consider with information leaks, is that a particular leak may break the terms of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). Although it might simply be a case of having access to gaming content revoked, for instance in alpha/beta testing phases of new titles or expansions, it could get a lot more ugly if the stakes are higher, and a potential law-suit could be on your hands. Naturally, this is more hassle than either party would really want to be dealing with. Developers are creative creatures, and the thought that other people may view their leaked ideas and content, and then steal certain elements of their project, undermines all the hard work that has been invested. It would feel pretty devastating to have your idea stolen from you, regardless of its whether you’re working on a small Indie title, or a triple A block-buster. Furthermore, it might dramatically reduce the interest consumers have on a product when it eventually launches.
Although leaks can often be exciting for the gaming audience, it is important that they do not undermine the developers. Yes, leaks can induce a certain degree of hype and excitement regarding a particular release, but it can also create complications and issues which could have otherwise been avoided.