Do Video Game Leaks Permanently Damage Games?

Video game leaks are a big problem in the gaming industry and a game developer’s worst nightmare. You may welcome leaks, feeling that it offers an announcement or an early look at a video game you’re excited about. What’s the big deal?

Perhaps you shouldn’t be happy to hear a video game has leaked, though, because many ramifications can result from them. You may be wondering whether leaks permanently damage video games. Let’s explore further.

Video Game Leaks Permanently Damage Games Because…

Lots of digital matrix code

There are many reasons why video game leaks permanently damage games.

Gamers Jump to Conclusions

Depending on the severity of a video game leak, you may see some raw content or hear rumors from ‘insiders’ about what the developers are planning to do in the game, such as microtransactions, or certain narrative-based decisions. Anything could leak.

Gamers naturally jump to conclusions based on what they’ve seen. No matter what has leaked from a game, you aren’t seeing the full picture. Hearing about a decision to include a loot box model, a change to an established mechanic, or anything else robs you of the context surrounding it.

Take for example the backlash Battlefront II received from a leak. It was the definition of pay-to-win in video games, and even though this was changed before release, the game never quite recovered from the initial backlash.

Without seeing a full product in its intended form, any opinions you form about it could be misguided. By jumping to conclusions, you could be casting off a title you may enjoy when it releases purely off of a small bit of information leaked that you feel negative towards.

Developers Can Majorly Change Their Game After a Leak

Game developers don’t respond too kindly to video game leaks, as you might expect. Like all creatives, video game developers want to show something finished. They want to throw in twists and turns, and surprises, and only show the finished version of the game.

A leak can change all of that by encouraging developers to majorly change their games. What may have been a game you enjoyed may turn into something that doesn’t work for you, all because leaks convinced the developers they needed to “go back to square one” or change things around to try and keep a buzz about the game.

Video Game Leaks Can Impact Sales

A pile of dollar bills

Leaks can cause people to believe they already know what to expect from a game and don’t want to try out the finished version. Leaks can also cause a loss of faith from shareholders, which leads to a reduction in the budget either in marketing or the design/development itself, leading to a lesser product.

All of these things act in unison to negatively impact the sales of a game. Of course, the contrary could be true, maybe a video game leak incites interest in a game leading to a positive impact on sales. What tends to happen more often is that video game leaks negatively impact the game’s fiscal performance.

Leaks Hurt Developers and Influence Their Creative Process

Creatives understandably don’t like having their creative process hindered by leaks. Leaks influence the morale of the team knowing someone among them is responsible for it.

This leads to more secrecy, and more fragmentation of design between various developers, and makes them feel like the audience has already decided what they think of the game. This can be one of the ways developers botch their own game, but if it’s borne out of a worry of suffering a video game leak, then it’s just a waste of time for everybody.

This can change the course of development of a game leading to it being different from intended. It is a shame for any creative to be working on creating a project they care about just to find out that loads of details have been shared online before its time. This is, ultimately, bad for you and other gamers as it can lead to games being developed without joy and enthusiasm, which will always lead to a poorer gaming experience.

Video Game Leaks Don’t Permanently Damage Games Because…

An Xbox controller being held by a gamer

Maybe you believe that video game leaks don’t permanently damage games. Where there are reasons for something being bad, there are often reasons for that same thing being good.

There are a few reasons why you may think games are not permanently damaged by leaks.

Video Game Leaks Draw Up Interest

Video game leaks can draw up interest in a game that wasn’t receiving much interest before. Interest is never something that game companies are going to be upset about, as this usually translates into higher profits.

You may have found that your interest in Grand Theft Auto 6 skyrocketed after it was announced it had been leaked, for instance. This was certainly the case for many gamers, and while the leak was generally regarded as a negative thing to happen, it led to a marked increase in interest in the game online.

Early Feedback Helps Game Developers Course Correct if Necessary

Depending on how much of a video game leaks, it could allow for the player base to come out with their feedback based on what they’ve seen. This can lead to developers getting access to some early feedback which gives them an idea of whether they should carry on with their current plans for a title or adapt to feedback and change stuff.

A good analogy for this is when the official trailer dropped for the Sonic movie, leading to many people commenting online on not liking Sonic’s face, leading to the studio pushing the release back so that it could change the face to be more accurate of what viewers were expecting.

Studios Can Turn Video Game Leaks Into a Marketing Advantage

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Game studios can take the interest from a video game leak and turn it into a marketing advantage. Leaks can generate many headlines depending on the size of a video game leak and the popularity of the game in question.

This leads to more people searching or being aware of an upcoming game release, which puts studios in a more favorable marketing position.

The most brazen of studios could even try to use the leak as a justification for why video games should be more expensive, especially if they consider that they’ll lose profit as a consequence of a leak.

This is not to say that many studios would be happy with a video game leaking, but the most adaptable ones will seek to gain as much benefit from it as they can.

Video Game Leaks Do Permanently Damage Games

Based on the positives and negatives of video game leaks, you likely see that video game leaks do permanently damage games. While some savvy companies may be able to turn a leak into a strategic advantage, this isn’t the case for the majority.

Most of the time, a video game leak happens way too soon and damages a video game company as well as the leaked title. It undermines the work of the developers by exposing an unfinished product to the world.

A lot of the damage this could cause to developers (effects on their creativity, budgets, and team morale) could go unnoticed. The last thing the video game industry needs is for developers to feel restricted. The consequence could be an impact on their focus and ultimately, their creativity.

This is not to say that a game will fail to make a profit or never be popular simply because it was leaked, but there will be some permanent impact.

Consider Whether You Support Video Game Leaks

Video game leaks can be cool in that they show you stuff about an upcoming game, but think of the damage it can do to the developers and the game itself.

When the next big video game leak happens, consider whether you want to be supporting the practice.

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