The art of leaking games is as old as the hobby itself. Even before the internet, everybody had their favorite story about someone’s Uncle from Nintendo. With the proliferation of technology, it’s now easier than ever to sneak information about an as-yet-unknown game to the masses. With that in mind, here are ten of the craziest gaming leaks of all time.
These days it’s not strange to hear about a trailer, some art or even early gameplay videos to leak, but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s leak was none of these. Instead, the game’s unplanned reveal came courtesy of a licensed keychain. Retail outlets all over the world received the merchandise ahead of the official announcement, leading to several employees anonymously sending snapshots to Kotaku. Oops.
Pokemon Let’s Go Leaked on April Fools’ Day
Leaking an unreleased game can be risky for the leaker, so what better way to safeguard yourself than by sharing your info on the most prank-ridden day of the year? The screenshot above was shared to 4chan on April Fools’ Day 2018 and was quickly dismissed by the gaming community. The screenshot depicts an Eevee riding on a trainer’s head in Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee a full six months before its release.
Just before the beginning of E3 2018, Walmart Canada uploaded placeholder listings for several games, some of which were known of beforehand, such as NBA2K19, Assassins Creed Odyssey (thanks to the keychain reveal earlier in this article), and The Division 2. We didn’t, however, know about Forza Horizon 4 (which was mistakenly labeled as Horizon 5 on the site), Lego DC Supervillains or Rage 2 yet. This leak keeps on giving, too, as it listed Borderlands 3 which was absent from E3 2018 but was announced nearly a year later in April 2019.
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm Ending Leaks Two Years Early
Internet leaks are a dime a dozen these days, with info about unreleased games hitting as soon as the game is in the hands of reviewers or on the shelves of stores not willing to abide by a game’s release date. In the week before launch, the odds of a game leaking are pretty good, but two years before launch? That’s unheard of, even today, and more so in 2010. Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm’s full ending cinematic (albeit an early version of it) leaked online. How did Blizzard pay those who spoiled the ending back so far in advance? By not changing it.
Smash Bros’ ESRB Leak
Nintendo is one of the most secretive companies in the world, but even they occasionally need to loosen their grip on their most ambitious projects, and in this case, that’s what appears to have caused this leak. In 2014 as NIntendo was generating hype for its new pair of Wii U and 3DS Smash Bros. games, a leaker published a number of videos showing then-unrevealed newcomers to the Smash Roster, including Dark Pit and Duck Hunt. Nintendo never publicly commented on the rumor, but the swift copyright claims on the uploaded videos were confirmation enough that the leak was legitimate.
So many fake leaks begin with a happenstance encounter with a game developer who happens to be eager to share some unannounced details, but in the case of Assassin’s Creed Unity, that’s exactly what happened. NeoGAF member krimsoncharge posted an unbelievable story about sitting next to a developer on a plane who then proceeded to spill all the details on the next game in the series, needless to say, nobody believed the poster, at least not until two weeks later when Kotaku revealed leaked screenshots and details that corroborated krimsoncharge’s wild story. One of those too-crazy-to-be-true stories would have to have been true eventually.
In late 2013, the future of the Fallout series was unknown. A recent hoax indicated Fallout 4 would happen in Boston, but was otherwise inaccurate. Following that, an anonymous tipster sent Kotaku casting documents, including a script, for Project Institute, which turned out to be Fallout 4. Details on characters, the setting and the opening dialog were all accurate. To this day it remains unclear how the source came by the documents.
Bethesda almost managed to keep Dishonored 2 a secret until its reveal, if only they had remembered to cut off their live stream. During rehearsals for their E3 2015 press conference, Bethesda accidentally went live on Twitch, just as they were rehearsing a portion of the conference that would serve as the reveal for Dishonored 2. While they didn’t mention the game by name, enough information was given for fans and news writers the world over to connect the dots.
Information about games leaking is to be expected, but a game’s actual source code? That’s something else entirely. A game’s source code is essentially what makes it tick. With it, you can gain a deep understanding of how the game in question works from the inside out, but also of how the developers created it. As you can imagine, Valve wasn’t pleased when in 2003 a German hacker stole and distributed the source code to Half Life 2 five months before its release.
An Arcade Protoype Leaks Online – After 37 Years
In 1982, Atari built three prototype cabinets for a game called Akka Arrh. After a brief test run, Atari decided not to release the game, leaving the game and the three cabinets forgotten in a warehouse. As the years went on, the machines found their way into the collections of private individuals, none of whom were interested in sharing the game online.
It would seem, however, that fate had other plans for Akka Arrh. In late April 2019, a ROM for the game was shared online, leaving the owners of the only three known copies in existence baffled. One owner came forward with an accusation, claiming he had hired a tech to work on other cabinets, and the tech had surreptitiously copied the game. As of this writing, nobody has proven where the copy of Akka Arrh came from, but perhaps we’ll find out in another 37 years.
What’s your favorite video game leak? Let us know in the comments!
Steve Bowling is a freelance games journalist and YouTuber. When he isn’t busy making videos on GameXplain, you can catch him yelling at clouds on Twitter at @SteveMBowling. The rest of the time he can be found peacefully sleeping in a Snorlax bean bag chair.
Tempmail – Temp mail address (10 minutes emails)- Why and how? Sometime you want to sign up for a site which requires email address to send a validation e-mail to. But you don’t want to provide your real email because they can send many spam mail to your email. To avoid that, visit this Tempmail generator: tempemail.co and you will have a Temp mail disposable address and end up on a bunch of spam lists. This email will expire after 10 minute so you can call this 10 min temporary email. Our service is free! Let’s enjoy!