2022 was the rise (and fall) of the video game leaker

2022 was the rise (and fall) of the video game leaker

Video game industry leaks and rumors are not a new phenomenon. Half-Life 2 source code leaked in 2003 and rumors of what game companies would do next have always loved gaming fans and the media. However, it reached a boiling point in 2022. Several notable leakers vied for influencer status in the eyes of an eager community tuning in to find out what their favorite (or most hated) game company will do next.

While leaks were in the spotlight in 2022, it wasn’t always for good reason. Grand Theft Auto VI Footage was illegally obtained in September and leaked onto the internet, raising questions about when and how video games deserve to be revealed. Several notable leakers were exposed as frauds, and one with an accurate track record simply retired. The video game industry’s leaks and rumors feel more relevant (and wrong) than ever, and some of 2022’s biggest video game news will forever be associated with them.

Video game rumors in 2022

Video game leak culture was prevalent throughout 2022, with notable figures such as Jeff Grubb and Tom Henderson offering insight into what game developers were working on. Henderson even launched a website centered around reporting rumors Insider gaming. Although the site has had its misses, several stories have already broken before an official announcement.

Unfortunately, many leaks this year were not nearly as well sourced. An early leaking star of the year was Account NGT, which was known to leak Star Wars Eclipse ahead of the reveal at The Game Awards 2021. Throughout the first half of the year, Account NGT would spread rumors of development battles at Quantic Dream, claim that new Sly Cooper and Infamous games were in development at Sucker Punch Productions, and more.

When Sucker Punch confirmed that no new Infamous or Sly Cooper games were in development in an anniversary post, Account NGT admitted that they had Star Wars Eclipse info by finding on Quantic Dream’s website early on and had then shared information they could not confirm from other sources. Konto NGT stopped sharing rumors after that. Unreliable leaks like this cast a shadow of doubt over the entire leak culture, but even accurate leaks found themselves in hot water this year.

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A mysterious figure called “The Real Insider” struck this year after leaking Assassin’s Creed Mirage before the announcement. His identity was later revealed to be YouTuber Dan Allen Gaming, who obtained his information by breaking NDAs he agreed to. Allen posted an apology video and stopped posing as The Real Insider.

Assassin's Creed Mirage key art

With all the controversy surrounding leaks and leak culture, it can be hard to understand how people get so invested in it. Much of that community is centered around a subreddit where all the latest and most interesting video game leaks are shared. Earlier this year, r/gamingleaksandrumours moderator Spheromancer spoke with Digital Trends and offered insight into why people are attracted to leaks and rumors about upcoming games.

“Being passionate gamers means any little rumor can cause a ton of excitement, and that’s what we’re all about,” he tells Digital Trends. “Over the years I’ve played quite a few games that I previously had no interest in just because I saw them on the subreddit. This includes Alan WakePersona series, Outer Wildlandsand Cross code. I know that if things like this happen to me, it will surely happen to many of our members.”

Leaks with substance

Spheromancer cites rumors of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom as of special interest to them. He highlighted how r/gamingleaksandrumours has seen a boom in growth this year along with the emergence of all these new notable leaks and high profile game reveals.

“The wonder has seen very rapid growth in recent years, from around 19,000 subscribers in 2020 to 280,000 right now,” Spheromancer said. “Like many other users, I have returned to the sub more and more often over the last few years. The more members we have, the more people we have to share information with.”

He explained that moderators only step in and remove posts about rumors that are “obviously false,” reposts, and just regular game news that doesn’t confirm a previous leak. There’s no shortage of news that could potentially be unearthed, keeping the community of eager fans anticipating leaks to thrive – but it’s also proved to be too much for some.

Link overlooks Hyrule in The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom key art.

The Snitch was a Twitter account which became known in June for leaking information about a Kojima game called Overdose early. Throughout the rest of the year, he accurately leaked the announcements of The Last of Us Part 1, Overwatch 2 is free to play, Dune Awakening, Silent Hill f, Final Fantasy 16’s release date and more. Although The Snitch did not respond to Digital Trends’ request for an interview earlier this year, he wanted to quit the act, explaining his decision in an interview with Insider Gaming.

“It’s been quite an exciting year and 2023 looks fantastic, with a number of fantastic games, but let’s face it, it’s not that much fun [for me] leak new announcements longer. In the end, users just want to know when GTA VI will be released, or if Messi will be a new one Fortnite character. It is something that does not interest me.”

Ultimately, The Snitch chose to focus on Discord instead of continuing to run a surprisingly viral Twitter leak account. Still, his impact on video game leaks is undeniable, as it highlights how leaks are stuck on a treadmill that constantly needs something interesting to reveal in an exciting way.

“What is the use of posting: “Final Fantasy: Rebirth coming to X platforms”?” The Snitch told Insider Gaming. “Yeah, I could make money, probably get 10,000 new followers and boost my ego, but again, that’s no fun. There was nothing better than posting a tweet and seeing everyone come up with crazy new ideas about what it could mean.”

Cloud and Sephiroth walk towards a bridge.

The Snitch helped raise the bar for how bold video game leaks can be, but the most bombastic leak of the year had nothing to do with them. That honor should go to when Grand Theft Auto VI, one of the most notoriously rumored games online, had footage of the game leaked online after someone hacked Rockstar Games. That situation is emblematic of the danger of today’s video game rumor culture.

The consequences of leaks

This September’s Rockstar Games hack finally confirmed some wild rumors about Grand Theft Auto VI, but it also gained a lot of discourse built on a very early, crude construction that was never intended for public consumption. The situation led to a conversation about gaming culture’s obsession with early information and whether it is something players deserve to gain insight into.

Our vision is a community that comes together to get excited and talk about the upcoming games we love to play.

Many studios released footage during development of their games in solidarity with Rockstar, and the leaker Grand Theft Auto VI was reportedly arrested soon after that. Still, those moments carried a strange air around them for the rest of the year, as we saw how disruptive they could be to the development of a game with one of the most significant video game leaks of all time. However, Spheromancer does not believe that leaks have a negative role in the video game industry.

“Personally, I see the subreddit as a net positive for gaming,” he explains. “While leaks like the last one Grand Theft Auto VI one can be negative about a company’s development of the game, I don’t see that as something that can come from a community like ours. We do not promote the process of obtaining leaks or rumors. Our vision is a community that comes together to get excited and talk about the upcoming games we love to play.”

While r/gamingleaksandrumours is booming and Insider Gaming has no shortage of things to cover, the various controversies, The Snitch’s retirement and the fallout of Grand Theft Auto VI situation leaves insider culture in a strange place heading into 2023. Whether you want to continue consuming or supporting them is a personal choice; this year made it clear that the practice can have real-world consequences if not kept properly. Even when you find a reliable source, it’s still worth taking your rumors with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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