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Google Leaking A Nintendo Game Is Evident Of A Bigger Problem In Gaming

The industry hasn't been able to keep secrets for nearly a decade.

Months after the Nintendo Switch launch in 2017, an undisclosed source leaked that the famed developer was making a new game starring the lovable green dinosaur, Yoshi. The game would later launch on the console-handheld hybrid, a major release early on in the then-unproven device’s life cycle.

A recent report from 404 Media confirmed that the leak resulted from a Google contractor using administrator privileges to access Nintendo’s YouTube account. The employee “deliberately leaked private Nintendo information,” according to an internal note from Google obtained by 404 Media. This leak was also the subject of an internal investigation at the tech giant.

The Yoshi game was eventually released as Yoshi’s Crafted World some two years after its unintentional reveal. The leak didn’t dampen the quality of the game, which received solid reviews. But the incident does mark an issue the games industry has had to contend with repeatedly over the last decade, one that has taken some of the fun out of what should be gaming’s biggest annual moments.

In the lead-up to every major publisher event since 2016, leaks have spoiled what could have been marquee moments for creators and development teams. Some of the earliest games to have their big reveals preempted by anonymous tipsters, like the 2016 PlayStation exclusive reboot unveiling, didn’t suffer much. Seeing Kratos for the first time on the big screen during PlayStation’s E3 press conference is still an all-time iconic moment in the now-defunct trade show’s history.

But as the years have passed, the constant stream of industry insiders blowing months of building anticipation in a tweet or Reddit post has become as routine as the annual showcases themselves.

Video games aren’t unique when it comes to leaks. Every year, Apple’s next iPhone is revealed by overseas manufacturers photographing what parts will be used in the company’s next piece of hardware. We have some idea of what’s inside Nintendo’s next console, as well as Sony’s plans for a PS5 Pro for the same reason.

Astro’s biggest breakout moment was somewhat ruined by leaks about the charming robot getting his own game.

PlayStation Studios

But when it comes to software, a big part of what makes it so exciting for enthusiasts is getting an early look at how developers are pushing boundaries, how they’re iterating on their previous work, and meeting the wants and needs of their fans. When those announcements are reduced to a few words on a social media timeline before the actual game is shown, it can be a deflating feeling for players.

Just recently, PlayStation hosted its State Of Play event. While Sony announced months ago that 2024 would be a lighter release year than usual, the State Of Play still has a lot of intrigue surrounding what PlayStation 5 (and PlayStation 4) owners would be playing later this year.

Unfortunately for them, the entire showcase was spoiled hours before the stream’s start time. Sony’s statement about it being a lighter year proved to be true. But it didn’t mean some of the games in question weren’t worth seeing in action. But when the return of games like Dynasty Warriors 8 is leaked, and that leak is aggregated into dozens of anti-climatic tweets spoiling its existence, what could have been a proper chance to reinvigorate the legacy IP with an exciting trailer becomes a negligible bullet point to be scrolled past online.

Infinity Nikki is a weird little open-world game that could have made an even bigger splash had it been given a moment to surprise everyone with its been re-reveal at PlayStation’s event last week.


For games like Infinity Nikki, a brand new IP that ended up being one of the more interesting reveals on PlayStation’s summer show, an unexciting list of reveals may have deterred people from tuning in, robbing developer Papergames of getting some new eyes on its next project.

E3 had its fair share of issues. It was a nightmare for the press as publications scrambled to cover the breadth of announcements and reveals across the industry. Renting out booths on show floors proved an unnecessarily expensive endeavor just to be a player. These absurd prices cut out the likelihood of smaller developers making an impact during gaming’s biggest week. E3 was an antiquated way to bring attention to creatives hawking their new projects, a product of the trade show’s origins as a conference for retailers looking to stock the year’s hottest games for the holiday season.

But the centralized, live nature of E3 at least retained the attention of the average enthusiast better than the collection of disparate streams we see during Summer Games Fest. Sure, Kratos’ return may have been spoiled in 2016, but there was still intrigue about what else PlayStation had in store, what deals they struck up with third-party developers, and how they’d be shown at their big press conference. There was a captive audience for creators to make a first impression on. It was a live event that couldn’t be uploaded to an open platform like YouTube where some employees could spill the beans way ahead of time.

Summer Games Fest is still an exciting time for gaming. But much of the charm is lots when many of its big moments are spoiled by leaks.

Summer Games Fest is set to begin later this week. Despite showrunner Geoff Keighley tempering expectations, there’s still plenty to be excited about. But thanks to leaks, we already know that Xbox will be showing a new Doom game, and that PlayStation has a playful reimagining of Horizon its likely saving for Keighley’s show. Imagine how much more exciting this lead-up would be if we hadn’t had any of these surprises ruined?

The industry isn’t ultimately worse off because of the incessant leaks. Record high sales numbers and more player engagement prove games are more popular than ever. But much of the charm and fun of what made gaming so exciting, especially around this time of year, is lost when every major announcement can be ruined with a Google search or cursory scroll through Reddit.

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