Spoilers and leaks ruin the gaming industry.
No, this is not another whiny editor beating the same dead dog that just about everyone has. Okay, maybe it is. But I’ll go a step further.
Spoilers and leaks ruin the gaming industry AND true gaming journalism.
Specifically the last part. I won’t say that I’m a “true gaming journalist” just yet but I am striving to become one. Following in the footsteps of Joystiq, I’m looking to create original thought provoking articles that are supplemented with good solid news that interests people. However, that doesn’t get clicks or views. That gets a pat on the back and a good work, kid. What works now in news media are “leaks” and “spoilers”.
Now, I can go on a rant about how there are too many of these but I’ll talk instead about how they have become unavoidable. As a news source, we have to use a variety of “competitors” to fuel our own stories. It also helps with market research, etc. So as the editor, I have an RSS feed with just about every major gaming outlet including Gamespot, Engadget, IGN, Polygon, etc. I check these daily to keep myself informed of the goings on and see if there is some content I’d like to report on. Now, what happens when you see a title that reads something like, oh I don’t know, “Next Big Assassin’s Creed Set In Egypt,” when there has been no announcement yet?
I didn’t want to know that info but guess what? If I’m reading my RSS feed, I just got a whole story through a headline with no warning. It’s like entering a battlefield and a guy sniping you from 600 yards away. It just happens and you can’t stop it. So, recently, I’ve been reading my RSS feeds as I usually do and I’ve been spoiled on Dark Souls, The Division, The Next Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XV, etc. Not because I’ve read through these articles but from just scanning the headlines.
It’s similar to when Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out and you almost had to exit social media completely until you watched it or risk someone ruining the story. And that started literally the day before it came out! No matter where you look online, there is some pop up, ad, or link to a spoiler or leak you never wanted to know.
I mean, spoiling has gotten so rampant that Gamespot got called out during Square Enix’s Uncovered event last night by Greg Miller. The looks on everyone’s face when they talked about it was that of disappointment because it was literally what the event was created for. Gamespot probably knew the date weeks ahead but since it got leaked elsewhere, now they are able to announce it hours before the planned worldwide reveal. As Tabata pushed that “air button” however, the lack of jubilation in his eyes (he was still happy though) should show the effects this has on developers.
To put it simply, news sources have a responsibility to remain objective observers. Scoops are one thing, but with any other news, you have to get almost explicit permission before running a story like a leak. Otherwise, you get sued for slander, defilement of character, breach of contract, etc. The gaming news market is like the wild west right now with more and more journalists jumping on the easy leak route. It’s hard to blame them, pump out twenty mediocre articles a day with at least half of them being spoilers / leaks and you’re set for life.
There’s an argument that is commonly brought up with the thought that “game developers and publishers need us to advertise their games for them.” That’s not completely the case anymore. With places like Reddit and the social ability of companies now, they can easily advertise without news media and do it more effectively. Sure, reviews will still be necessary, but sharing information with the press can be locked down with no repercussions for the company. In a perfect scenario, they put out info at their own pace and people are still just as happy to see it when it does. People will receive fresher experiences and those writers who rely on leaks and spoilers will slowly change their approach to journalism.
But I digress. Gamespot, Kotaku, etc… please don’t spoil my damn games before I get to play them. I’m tired of knowing everything about a game before I even buy it… especially when all I want to do is read a headline to see if I’m even interested in the rest.
Andron (or Ace as he likes to call himself) is the so called "Head Honcho" of Bombchu.com. He has a deep passion for video games primarily RPGs, Fighting or Adventure. When not gaming, he's furiously typing on his keyboard or coming up with new schemes.