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Are leaks and insiders good or bad for games?

Jeff Grubb, Tom Henderson, The Snitch and more keep on revealing secrets and it brings out the worst in gamers.

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I understand how weird this question is considering yours truly has been part of the problem by publishing both Secret Summer Games in 2020, Secret Upcoming Games in 2021 and a few other reports through the years, but I've always had a bad feeling when doing it. Not only do these kinds of leaks ruin the fun for the developers, marketing departments and publishers who've been planning to share information a certain way, it also lowers the official announcement's effect.

Are leaks and insiders good or bad for games?

This hasn't stopped so-called insiders and leakers (self-proclaimed or otherwise) from popping up all over the place lately. Some of them seem to feed on the attention to such an extent that they want to share even the tiniest of detail every single week whether it's on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube or websites covering video games. I would have been somewhat okay with this if it wasn't for the fact that many gamers are extremely toxic. Take the recent rumblings of God of War: Ragnarök getting a release date as an example.

It all started for real when Bloomberg's Jason Schreier decided to shut down the rumours of a 2023 delay by revealing that God of War: Ragnarök is set to launch in November if everything goes according to plan, and that this would be announced later this month. This was on June 10. The game has been trending on social media the twenty days since then, in part helped by Twitter user The Snitch, who has got a lot of credibility and attention after leaking several announcements with some cool brain-teasers the last few weeks, seemingly claiming Sony was planning to reveal the launch date today. Did this stop many from asking and/harassing Cory Barlog, the creative director of God of War, and many other developers at the studio? On the contrary. In fact, the amount of messages and...impoliteness has just increased the last seven days. Where Barlog took it like a champ with some fun teasing at first, he's now begging people to relax and be patient as well as outright denying they'll announce the release date today. He had to do this because of the horrible and sheer amount of messages he and other parts of the team have received. All because of a trustworthy reporter and "insiders".

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Are leaks and insiders good or bad for games?

That's not even the only reason why I have to ask whether or not these kinds of reports and leaks are good. Because revealing secrets to a group of people where many still haven't learned to set their expectations straight often leads to disappointment. I think we saw this to different degrees when the Resident Evil 4 remake and The Last of Us: Part I were revealed. The Internet would have exploded if these two had managed to be kept under wraps. Just look back at when Final Fantasy VII: Remake was announced at E3 2015. I got goose bumps hearing hundreds of people cheering their hearts out at the conference and a big smile on my face watching reaction videos later on. Another example was Spider-Man in 2016. People were shocked and excited. From what I could tell, the reactions to Resident Evil 4 and The Last of Us: Part I were somewhat muted, and not just because many either had outrageous expectations for them or don't see the point in remaking a game that got a remaster last generation. I believe the leaks are at least partly to blame.

Yes, I know most leaks and reports usually reach only a small fraction of the audience, and that many are actually caught completely off guard by the official announcements, but wouldn't it be way more fun if pretty much everyone could join the discussions and passion? And people wonder why most games aren't announced as soon as films... Look at what happens to both expectations and social interactions when the world gets even a sniff at what these talented and passionate developers put so much time and effort into. The aforementioned Schreier at least deserves a lot of credit for usually having a deeper thought behind his reporting than getting attention, and I like The Snitch's more cryptic messages that make us work for our food. I hope many of the others ask themselves why before leaking, or claiming if they're self-proclaimed "insiders" just guessing, before sharing every minor thing with the world. If they don't, I fear we'll never get any of the amazing reveals that will be remembered for life ever again, and instead end up with a growing amount of aggressive gamers that think it's their privilege to know everything that goes on.

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