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New report discovers one culprit behind Nintendo game leaks: Google

Link looking shocked holding rice.

Some recent Nintendo leaks may have come from inside the house. According to 404 Media, a Google employee with access to private YouTube videos leaked the information ahead of official reveals.

The outlet reported Monday that it received a copy of an internal Google database used to track security issues dating back six years. One of the many incidents listed involved a Google employee who had apparently “accessed private videos in Nintendo’s YouTube account, and leaked information ahead of Nintendo’s planned announcements.”

According to the article, an internal investigation found that the supposed breach of privacy was “non-intentional.” It’s also unclear what leak or leaks this might refer to.

This is just one of many privacy incidents detailed in the database, which 404 Media received from an anonymous tipster and confirmed the veracity of. For example, in 2016, Google Street View systems stored license plate numbers from photos. In another, Google’s speech services logged the audio of around 1,000 children during the launch of YouTube Kids.

Nintendo is famously tight-lipped regarding its upcoming projects, and has become even more so over the years. In a 2020 Wired article, a member of the Nintendo leaking community said that the company has become “increasingly aggressive” to combat potential leaks. The article itself is about a lawsuit against one specific leaker, Ryan “RyanRocks” Hernandez, who later that year was sentenced to three years in prison for crimes related in part to a “computer hacking scheme” against Nintendo (along with child pornography the FBI found after raiding his home).

Nintendo also had to grapple with a massive leak of information known as the “Gigaleak” in 2020, where source code, prototype documents, unreleased graphics, and more showed up on 4chan. Company president Shuntaro Furukawa said in 2022 that the company had increased security following the incident.

Still, over the years it’s become more common for footage of upcoming Nintendo releases to find its way online ahead of time. Both Pokémon Scarlet and Violet and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom leaked online a week or two before they launched.

However, it’s still quite common for studios and publishers to upload newsworthy YouTube videos ahead of a reveal and set them to private so that they won’t show up in search or on the channel’s official page.

Leaks continue to be a massive problem throughout the industry. In 2022, arguably the highest-profile leak involved Grand Theft Auto 6 footage leaking online. In 2023, information on upcoming Insomniac Games projects, like Marvel’s Wolverine, was leaked online. Both were the result of massive security breaches.

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Carli Velocci
Carli is a technology, culture, and games editor and journalist. They were the Gaming Lead and Copy Chief at Windows Central…
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