Nintendo has a bit of a mess on their hands with the very early leak of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom ten days before its official release. We rarely see this happen with PlayStation and Xbox games, but Nintendo continues to have this problem, especially when it’s still “old school” and its games don’t require connecting to servers to be fully online, they’re just…ready. Good for gamers, potentially harmful for leaks.
I won’t discuss the content of the leaks here, so no spoilers, but how exactly did this happen? There seem to be two main modes that were leaked into the game early on, a casual one and a troubling one.
The normal way is that some physical copy has broken street date. Again, this happens with games that are primarily distributed through these physical cartridges and can be played without patches or a server connection. In one case, a physical copy of the game was listed on an auction site for several hundred dollars.
However, the main issue is the wide spread of the game through ROM sites. Somehow, the game has been copied to computer emulators and shared widely through this format. It’s of course highly illegal, but unless you’re broadcasting it publicly (as some idiots have already done), Nintendo might not be able to go after you. Although, of course, I say don’t do this at all, and buy the damned game in a week. It is still not clear how this The level of leakage may have occurred, but you can bet Nintendo is about to rain legal hell and sulfur on anyone who ends up being found responsible. It’s a pretty big deal.
The wide availability of a hacked ROM means that it’s not just a few physical copies that are making the rounds, it’s that thousands of people have gotten their hands on it. This means that spoilers for the game are likely to be making the rounds on social media, Twitch chat, YouTube comments, really anywhere people want to be fools.
Kotaku was recently roasted over an article discussing leaks, although I will say it’s a pretty common practice to cover up industry leaks with spoiler warnings, Tears is just a bit more high-profile than most. However, Kotaku draws additional criticism, given that they recently complained about Nintendo’s blacklist of review copies, so some view the coverage as “retaliation”. Not sure how tragic it is but if you don’t want to know about the leaks… DEFINITELY DON’T READ THIS ARTICLE. I imagine surprise spoilers from random people would be even more annoying.
In the end, leaks and leaked versions rarely have that much of an impact on sales of the final product, however annoying that may be. I’m sure Tears will do amazingly well and head to a GOTY nomination handily at the end of the year. We’ll know more (officially) in a week.
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Pick up my science fiction novels Herokiller series And Earthborn trilogy.