E3 Is (Almost) Here and the Leaks Have Begun

It's Gamer Christmas Eve as Austin, Patrick, Cado, and Rob talk about the big E3 news that's already broken before E3 has even begun. The gang discuss the Google Stadia announcement and how it could transform game development and economics. They also dig into Destiny 2's upcoming expansion, Shadowkeep, and whether this is the kind of story and atmosphere that Destiny is capable of evoking. Other big changes are coming to Destiny as well, so the crew discusses the game's upcoming transition to free-to-play and what that could mean for the game's direction. Finally, there's leaks! Or are they spoilers? Can you spoil a game announcement, and should anyone care? Maybe not, and yet undeniably, at least a couple of us do.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gy4mgm/e3-is-almost-here-and-the-leaks-have-begun
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Destiny 2 lore reasons!!

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I really wanna go on a tear about the recent conversations surrounding leaks, and how people have started latching onto the idea of leakers hurting developers through sabotaging of corporate marketing initiatives.

It’s laden with so many surface-level bad assumptions—and likely some degree of bad faith arguments from people who consider leaks as “spoilers”—and I’m genuinely a little worried that the well-being of developers is going to start being used as a hostage in this discussion.

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It’s also, leaks are a legitimate marketing strategy at this point, so the idea that all of them are even going against corporate marketing seems somewhat quaint at this point

It’s also nightmarish how people will get into these arguments in public on Twitter, not considering how audiences might respond. When Cory Barlog is in your mentions (and in this case you are Jason Schreier) saying leaks hurt developers, there’s only one direction this discussion can go in. Then you also pile on other media personalities chiming in roughly in agreement with Barlog and good lord. These people are completely inconsiderate in how their audiences will respond to this stuff and generate more ill will towards one of the, idk, 3 websites doing actual investigative reporting in this space. Are leaks “investigative reporting?” I mean, not the most interesting kind, but they’re akin to Schreier’s biggest stories.

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Related to this discussion, this morning’s news:

You could very easily make a slippery-slope argument that a major platform holder throwing legal weight around against leakers, is the canary in the coalmine to them trying to do the same against outlets who report on company whistle-blowing.

e:

This one has me the most incensed because the guy is a figurehead for one of the biggest studios in the industry. He has a vested corporate interest in his company hitting marketing initiative goals, so even if he genuinely believes the things he’s saying, there’s a clear conflict of interests involved in his posts on this subject.

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Since there has been some input from certain developers on the fun of having a big, surprising reveal, I wanted to shout out that Jason Schreier’s book on video game development (Blood, Sweat and Pixels) has a few mentions of teams crunching hard just to create these demos (IIRC it’s brought up in the Naughy Dogs chapter).

I totally get how it would be exciting to see how happy fans are with a well timed surprise, but just as with the rest of the industry there’s a cost to these moments. I can’t help but feel that the massive hype culture in gaming contributes a lot to how there seems to be a “race” to beat your competitors with the hottest demo and reveal. I can’t speak for the developers but that part doesn’t seem at all good to me.

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Also like, we’re still gonna be excited?? Almost certainly? Full trailers rarely leak, a text description or a name and a key art are cool, but like, it’s not a full stage reveal. Those are still fun. I know it’s all capitalist and it’s about getting my money but even if I know something is coming a stage reveal + trailer is still enjoyable.

(I know people have criticisms of this tactic and I don’t love it either BUT) If Marvel can tell us every fuckin movie they’re making for like 5 years and people can still shit their pants for Infinity War and Endgame I think it’s gonna be ok if Anthem 2 we’re doin it again or Battlefield The Next One or Super Mario 65 announcements leak.

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Cado losing it on the Periscope was so good ![image|690x391]
(upload://vZRwwHnwVm2wj7nc3kymgfKNf4o.jpeg)

(sorry if this is the wrong place; couldn’t find a Periscope/stream specific thread)

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I’ve said it before but the way the whole industry is set up for complete silence is completely unsustainable in the age where places like twitter or even 4chan (ugh) exist. Blaming this all on individual leakers who are all morally bankrupt dev haters is just a way for them to say as long as they keep sticking their fingers in those holes, then the water will stop coming in. Maybe they just need a better boat.

Also, as with any capitalist entity, “think of the developers” was always going to get turned into a marketing slogan, progressive sentaments always do

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It’s totally a thing of pushing just a few extra pre-orders through the stage show consumer frenzy.

We can’t ever know what the exact impact these things have, but even if we go with the most generous possible estimate that maybe 5% of sales for God of War 2018 came from the big surprise reveal, is the extreme commitment to secrecy (to the frequent detriment of game industry workers) worth the slight bump for a game that already sold outstandingly well?

Posters on ResetEra have been bandying about the few instances where a developer ended up being screwed over by a leak, but these are always corporate decisions. Even on the assumption that it was only the leak that caused troubles for the developer, why is the ire being directed against the leaker and not the corporate entity who is ultimately responsible for the well-being of the developers?

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Natalie is back? Also, how come the video version is only 38 minutes long?

As far as leaks, I will say I am one of those people who generally avoids spoilers and really enjoys surprises. When Monster Hunter World was revealed at Sony’s E3 conference back in 2017, I still vividly remember watching that reveal trailer thinking “Hang on, is this…? This looks kinda like…? holy shit…holy shit…holy shit…!”

That said, had the existence of MHW been leaked before Sony showed the trailer, I’m sure I still would’ve enjoyed it. I’m not on all the social media sites, so the podcast is the first I’m hearing about this this leak/spoiler discourse, but if a mere leak of a game’s existence is leading to harassment of any sort, that shit’s not okay and there’s something fundamentally wrong.

Like Patrick and some posters above have said, maybe it is time for the industry to change up their entire approach and start at the very least acknowledging games that are in development early on, and not be so deathly silent until

Edit: That last 15 min behind the scenes/set up was a wild ride

I guess my question on the outrage against the outrage is, so like… who is meant to be protected by saying arguing leaks are fine, actually? The leakers? They’re presumably doing it for their own selfish motivations (traffic to a website, raising their profile as a source, or even just e-credit among peers) and like… I don’t particularly… care? It’s not like “Keanu Reeves is in Cyberpunk 2077” is valuable investigative reporting in the vein of “I talked to employees are Rockstar/Riot/etc. about labor conditions.” If a developer tells me that there is an internal goal that they’re trying to meet regarding the reveal and that leaks hurt them, then I can believe that.

If the discourse is meant to comment on the entire culture around reveals/spoilers/etc. at large and work towards changing it (or in other words, to say that there SHOULD NOT BE any internal goals set around marketing), then that’s a different thing, and I guess I agree with that in a general sense (marketing as an industry is kind of bullshit, yeah!) but it’s such a massively different scope than this particular issue and… I don’t know, remote, I suppose, to any dev whose thunder has been stolen by someone else who, again, I assume was doing it for their own profit motive. I mean, honestly, I do not care about leaks/spoilers and frankly don’t look forward to games that are more than six months out except in the rarest of circumstances so all of E3 is baffling to me as an institution. I just… don’t really feel much sympathy towards leakers vs. developers.

ETA: In short, I am for the idea that hype culture ought to change in the long run because it’s dumb, but also not particularly distressed that someone on twitter got a C&D in the here and now, and doubtful that encouraging leaks would actually lead to hype culture changing.

I’m definitely sensitive about this stuff, but I could have done without the Destiny 2 plot details being dropped in the podcast without warning. It seems especially odd in a discussion about an initiative to bring new players on board.