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

Video games industry leaks and rumors aren’t a new phenomenon. Half-Life 2’s source code leaked in 2003, and rumors about what gaming companies would do next have always enamored gaming fans and media. That reached a boiling point in 2022, though. Multiple notable leakers vied for influencer status in the eyes of an avid community that was chomping at the bit to learn what their favorite (or most hated) gaming company will do next.

While leakers 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 over when and how video games deserve to be revealed. Multiple notable leakers were exposed as frauds, and one with an accurate track record just outright retired. Video game industry leaks and rumors feel more relevant (and flawed) than ever, and some of 2022’s biggest video game news stories will forever be associated with them.

Video game rumors in 2022

Video game leaking culture was prevalent throughout 2022, with notable figures like Jeff Grubb and Tom Henderson providing insights into what game developers were working on. Henderson even launched a website centered around reporting on rumors called Insider Gaming. Though the site has had its misses, its already broken several stories ahead of an official announcement.

Unfortunately, plenty of leakers this year weren’t nearly as well-sourced. An early leaking star of the year was Account NGT, who gained notoriety for leaking Star Wars Eclipse ahead of its reveal at The Game Awards 2021. Throughout the first half of the year, Account NGT would spread rumors about development struggles at Quantic Dream, claim new Sly Cooper and Infamous games were in development at Sucker Punch Productions, and more.

When Sucker Punch confirmed no new Infamous or Sly Cooper games were in development in an anniversary post, though, Account NGT admitted that they had obtained the Star Wars Eclipse info by finding on on Quantic Dream’s website early and had then shared information they couldn’t verify from other sources. Account NGT stopped sharing rumors after that. Unreliable leakers like this put a shadow of doubt over the whole leaking culture, but even accurate leakers found themselves in hot water this year.

A mysterious figure called “The Real Insider” made a splash this year after leaking Assassin’s Creed Mirage ahead of its announcement. His identity was later revealed to be YouTuber Dan Allen Gaming, who was obtaining his info 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 that strife around leakers and leak culture, it can be tough to understand how people get so invested in it. A lot of that community is centered around one 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 gave 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 simply because of seeing them on the subreddit. This includes Alan Wake, the Persona series, Outer Wilds, and Crosscode. I know if things like that happen to me, it’s surely happening to a lot of our members.”

Leaks with substance

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

“The sub has seen some very rapid growth over the past few years, going from around 19,000 subscribers in 2020 to 280,000 as of right now,” Spheromancer said. “Like many other users, I found myself coming back to the sub more and more often in recent years. The more members we have, the more people we have to share info.”

He explained that moderators only step in and remove posts regarding rumors that are “obviously fake,” reposts, and just regular gaming news not verifying a previous leak. There’s no shortage of news to potentially dig up, allowing the community of avid fans looking forward to leaks to thrive — but it has also proven 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 that gained notoriety 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 going free-to-play, Dune Awakening, Silent Hill f, Final Fantasy 16’s release date, and more. Though The Snitch didn’t respond to Digital Trends’ request for an interview earlier this year, he’d quit the act altogether, explaining his decision in an interview with Insider Gaming.

“It’s been quite an exciting year and 2023 is looking amazing, with a number of amazing games, but let’s face it, it’s not so much fun [for me] leaking new announcements anymore. In the end, users only want to know when GTA VI will be released, or if Messi will be a new Fortnite character. It’s something that doesn’t interest me.”

Ultimately, The Snitch opted to focus on his Discord rather than continuing to run a surprisingly viral Twitter leaking account. Still, his impact on video game leaks is undeniable as it highlights how leakers are stuck on a treadmill of constantly needing something interesting to reveal in an exciting way.

“What is the use of posting: “Final Fantasy: Rebirth is coming to X platforms”?” The Snitch told Insider Gaming. “Yes, I could make money, probably gain 10k new followers and boost my ego, but then again, it’s not fun. There was nothing better than posting a tweet and watching everyone come up with crazy new ideas about what it could mean.”

Cloud and Sephiroth walking toward a bridge.

The Snitch helped raise the standard for how bold video game leaks can be, but the most bombastic leak of the year had nothing to do with them. That honor would go to when Grand Theft Auto VI, one of the most infamously rumored games online, had in-development footage of the game leak online after someone hacked Rockstar Games. That situation is emblematic of the danger of the current video game rumor culture.

The consequences of leaks

This September’s Rockstar Games hack did finally validate some rampant rumors about Grand Theft Auto VI, but it also garnered a lot of discourse built upon a very early, rough build never meant for public consumption. The situation led to a conversation about gaming culture’s obsession with early information and whether or not it’s something players deserve to gain insight into.

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

Many studios released in-development footage of their games in solidarity with Rockstar, and the person who leaked Grand Theft Auto VI was reportedly arrested soon after that. Still, these moments carried an odd air around them for the remainder of the year, as we saw just how disruptive they could be to a game’s development with one of the most significant video game leaks of all time. Still, Spheromancer doesn’t think leakers serve 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 recent Grand Theft Auto VI one can be negative to a company’s development of the game, I don’t see that as something that can stem from a community like ours. We don’t promote the process of obtaining leaks or rumors. Our vision is one of a community that comes together to get excited and talk about the upcoming games we love to play.”

While r/gamingleaksandrumours is thriving and Insider Gaming doesn’t have a shortage of things to cover, the various controversies, The Snitch’s retirement, and the fallout of the Grand Theft Auto VI situation leave insider culture in a strange spot heading into 2023. Whether or not you want to keep consuming or supporting them is a personal choice; this year made it clear the practice can have real-world consequences if not handheld correctly. Even when you find a trustworthy source, though, it’s still worth taking your rumors with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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