How Leaks Affect Game Developers and Video Game Companies

In light of recent events, let's take a look at how leaks affect game developers and video game companies.

Leaks are a regular occurrence in the gaming industry. Mostly, these leaks are release dates of upcoming games or minor in-game details, but sometimes the leaks can be as big as actual in-game footage.

The leakers can be anyone; some do it for fun, while some do it for attention, but how do these leaks affect game developers and video game companies?

We’ve recently witnessed it, and it won’t be an exaggeration to call the GTA 6 leak one of the biggest in video game history.

About 90+ clips of in-game footage of GTA 6 were leaked on social media platforms. There were rumors of the GTA 6’s source code also being leaked, but the official statement from Rockstar Games about the leak didn’t mention anything about it.

Rockstar
Rockstar released a statement regarding the network intrusion that led to an early build of GTA 6 being leaked.

Back to the topic, leaks are pretty common. Sometimes, video game companies intentionally “leak” some stuff by themselves as a marketing strategy to get people hyped about a game.

However, it can also backfire; the leaked content might receive backlash from fans and be subject to change which can delay the game development, so it’s relatively rare.

There are several issues video game companies face when they become subject to leaks.

One issue is domain registration. Suppose anything about a new game IP is leaked before it has been announced or expected by fans. In that case, it might cause the domain registration to become contested, and the studio might have to pay a lot more money to register the domain for their new IP.

Leaks can also devastate the marketing strategy. For example, the leaks might make the audience more excited about the game that is expected to release a year later than the game that is supposedly going to release the next month, and it can also affect its sales.

Video games are also more subject to cancellation before release than other entertainment projects such as movies and TV shows. This makes leaks more sensitive to unannounced games than other entertainment projects, which is also why the gaming industry is so secretive about new or underdeveloped projects.

Leaks are more harmful to marketing strategies and publishers than game developers. The game developers will still make the game if they are working on it despite leaks.

Although, it’s possible that the leaked content may receive backlash and then has to be changed or completely revamped, which can delay the game and put a lot of load on developers.

Conversely, the marketing teams and publishers can lose much money due to leaks because their target audience might’ve liked the game more if they had heard about it in a teaser or trailer rather than through leaks.

Some publishers might even have to cancel the whole game following leaks because the audience didn’t like it because of some leaked early-development screenshots they saw on social media.

Imagine if there were no leaks and Rockstar Games released an official trailer of GTA 6 after finishing development. It would’ve caused massive hype, considering how much awaited the game is worldwide.

But, after the leaks, some fans were let down and even complained about how the game looked after watching the early-development footage.

Leaks also affect the working environment of the staff working on a game because it is most likely one of them who leaked the stuff.

It might easily make the contractors, publishers, or higher-ups, in general, point fingers at the staff for being responsible for the leak and might even suggest an internal investigation which can decrease the staff’s morale.

That being said, leaks don’t always come from developers. Sometimes, the people testing the game before its release can also be responsible.

Video game studios usually hire many testers and gamers to test a game for them before it’s officially announced or released. These testers must agree to a non-disclosure agreement before trying out the game, but that doesn’t stop some of them from leaking the info.

Video game companies can and do take legal action against the leakers, so most of the time, these leakers try to hide their identity as much as possible. But, there’s not much anyone can do to hide from the law.

In conclusion, leaks are harmful to everyone involved and shouldn’t be there in the first place. But, it doesn’t stop some people from doing it. It can heavily affect game development and might even result in the cancellation of entire projects or delay them massively. So, the real question should be, who exactly benefits from the leaks?

You tell us in the comments section below. 

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Matt Hunter


With four years of experience as a tech writer on a multitude of websites, Matt Hunter currently reports to eXputer with the latest in gaming.