Video game leaks and rumours are nothing new to the industry. From Luigi being in Super Mario 64 to journalists teasing E3 announcements, it has always been interesting to see which rumours (and hoaxes) come to fruition and which are the creations of desperate writers desperate for a retweet.
While usually coming in the form of forum posts and shoddily made photos in the early 2000s, the leaking landscape has become (typically) far more professional nowadays. Websites such as VentureBeat, Eurogamer and GamesIndustry.biz (which I’ll delve into later) have become staples of the video game community and give us insight into the inner workings of the industry.
But that’s not to discredit the still prominent 4chan, Reddit and Twitter leakers, sporadically throwing rumours and leaks into the public domain. In fact, seeing these underground leakers remain an aspect of the video game community to this day is almost nostalgic.
But these forums and sites are still an important part of how we as players consume video game media. And this is how it all blends together.
The Leaking Professionals
The gaming Twitter-verse has certainly achieved a kind of renaissance in recent years. While mainstay pillars of the industry like IGN and GameSpot used to rely heavily on their websites, we have seen a shift to individuals from these sites becoming huge platforms themselves. This has led to reliability being favoured over pipe-dream hoaxes.
Journalists with high reputations in this space have now become synonymous with real rumours. I would particularly be remiss not to mention writers like Jeff Grubb, Jason Schreier, and Imran Khan. With great insight into the industry and excellent sources, we, as more passive community members, sometimes take for granted the kind of understanding we gain from this.
The use of Twitter, in particular, allows these aforementioned journalists to interact with the community on a casual level. This can even reveal tidbits of video game rumours, which provide sites (like us here at KeenGamer) and forums excellent avenues for content and discourse.
But that’s not to say that this sub-sect of social media is all positive. Of course, there are always people seeking to take advantage of a large following.
While I won’t name names here, there are plentiful social media accounts out there exploiting their followings. The spreading of completely baseless claims doesn’t help anyone and only provides a bad aftertaste for burned followers.
Nonetheless, it’s great to see how communities and writers alike have banded together to provide a trustworthy avenue for gaming info.
4chan & Reddit: Gaming’s Broken Clocks…
At times toxic, hoax-filled, and spontaneous, these forums reside in the underbelly of the gaming leaks world. But that doesn’t mean they don’t ever provide accurate leaks. Or entertainment.
In particular, 4chan is the Wild West when it comes to this space. Its anonymity and lack of moderation or censorship mean that anyone can post anything. 4chan seems to have a particular interest in Nintendo Directs, as many claims to know the show’s entire slate of announcements. This usually comes in completely fabricated posts claiming that their cousin is a graphic designer for Nintendo or something equally silly.
On the slightly better side of the same coin is the /r/GamingLeaksAndRumours subreddit. It, like 4chan, gains most of its in-house rumours from unconfirmed, anonymous accounts.
And, again, like 4chan, most of them are completely untrue. But where this subreddit thrives is mostly in the form of the discussion. Users and mods alike are essentially aggregating different rumours from places like Twitter and 4chan and discuss their validity and general thoughts. It’s a great way to get updates if you don’t fancy Twitter.
…Are Right Twice a Day
Sometimes, when it’s a full moon on Friday the 13th, and stars are aligned just right, 4chan does provide real leaks. But not in the way you might think.
Huge leaks have continued to surface on 4chan due to hackers gaining access to copious amounts of data. Perhaps most famously, a 2020 Nintendo ‘gigaleak’ revealed source code, unreleased prototypes, and much, much more. All coming from 4chan. An unreleased Golden Eye Xbox port was also released to the public via 4chan, showcasing the forum’s odd way of attracting hackers.
These kinds of leaks are ultimately harmless for the companies involved instead of providing interesting tidbits for modders and fans alike. But these leaks can also come in more nefarious forms. Most notably, CD Projekt Red was held ransom by 4chan hackers who had gained access to important data and internal documents.
What to Take Away From All of This
The leaks and rumours culture of video games is extremely unique to the space. It allows anyone to get an insight into the industry and potentially get a glimpse into its future.
But it’s also one always to consider the consequences of. Personal data and internal document leaks can do real damage to companies and individuals alike. In this way, the difference between the professionals and the underbelly of gaming leaks is quite stark.
Nonetheless, this sub-sect isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and understanding how it all works is the first step to navigating its entertaining pathways.