Over the weekend, NEO: The World Ends With You fans discovered that Square Enix was accidentally leaking the game early to people who pre-ordered it on Switch. Now, with a week still to go before its official release, access to the upcoming action RPG has been rescinded.
The news began circulating among players online earlier today.
“Nintendo have remotely revoked all digital licenses for the game after Square Enix accidentally sold eShop codes early,” wrote Switch homebrew tinkerer OatmealDome on Twitter. “Players were kicked out mid-game with the error code 2819-0003. This is, as far as I and others know, a first for the Switch.”
Nintendo and Square Enix didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. [Update: Nintendo has claimed responsibility for leaking the game early and for later revoking access].
Fans who have been playing the game ahead of schedule are now wondering what will happen to their access and save progress once the game is officially released.
“I was playing the game with no issues yesterday,” Reddit user Shanook28 told Kotaku. Today, after they got home from work around 4 p.m. ET, was a different story.
“It popped up with a, ‘Checking to see if you have permission to use this software,’ message (it hadn’t done that at all any other time I’d started it up over the weekend), then popped up with an error message that I didn’t have permission to use the software along with a link to the eStore to pre-order.”
Some fans had already pre-ordered NEO: The World Ends With You when Square Enix began sending digital codes out early, but once news spread other fans took note and began pre-ordering the $80 version of the game to get early access, filling up fan wikis and forums with spoilers for the long-awaited sequel to the 2007 Nintendo DS game way ahead of its July 27 release. Now that they’ve been locked back out, some are trying to get refunds, but based on anecdotal evidence on Twitter and Reddit, success has been mixed.
But the game is roughly 50 hours long, and it’s also not clear whether the lockout means players’ save data is no more as well.
“I’m like an hour or two away from finishing the game, and now I can’t play it anymore,” Shanook28 said.
Update - 3:59 a.m. ET, 7/21/21: Nintendo Customer Service recently sent out the following message to early NEO: The World Ends With You players taking responsibility for the mistaken codes and recently revoked license access:
Records indicate your Nintendo Account redeemed a code to download the digital version of the title “NEO: The World Ends with You”. This was due to an error on Nintendo’s side since this code, provided via email from Square Enix, was instead intended to grant access to Add-On Content for consumers who pre-ordered the physical version of the title via Square Enix’s website. To rectify this, Square Enix will provide an updated code to redeem the intended Add-On Content and effective immediately, the license to access the digital version of the title has been revoked.
Thank you, Nintendo of America Inc.