Copies of Kingdom Hearts III are out in the wild, more than a month before the release of the highly anticipated role-playing game. It’s not clear exactly how the game leaked, but director Tetsuya Nomura told fans this weekend to watch out for spoilers, promising that the epilogue and final movie “are planned to be released at a later date just in case.”
It’s common for big games to make their way onto the internet in the days leading up to release, as people get a hold of early copies and rush to be first to leak footage or upload files for pirates. But for a game to get out this early is nearly unprecedented. Kingdom Hearts III comes out more than six weeks from now, on January 29, 2019. Leaks typically happen when game companies start distributing games in bulk to reviewers, streamers, and retail stores—usually around one or two weeks before launch.
So it was unusual to see a Facebook user posting videos and offering to sell copies of Kingdom Hearts III for $100 a pop to buyers last weekend. The user, who went by Broderick Jackson, shared clips of the game to prove that he had it. When reached by Kotaku, he would not say how he had acquired these copies. “I’m the man... plain and simple,” he said in a Facebook message.
Early on Sunday morning, Square Enix posted a note from Kingdom Hearts director Tetsuya Nomura on Twitter that lamented the leak and promised that the most spoilery parts of Kingdom Hearts III were not actually in the game just yet:
We’re aware that a small portion of Kingdom Hearts III has been circulating online before its official release. We are also aware as to how this all happened. We’re sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release.
The whole team has been working together since yesterday night (Japan time) to investigate what we can do to better this situation, but first we would like to ask that you do not share these videos.
The game’s epilogue and secret movie, which are the biggest spoilers in this game, are planned to be released at a later date just in case, so they will not be shown before the game’s release.
We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter.
We’re also very grateful that our fans have been warning each other already about the spoilers. Thank you very much.
We’re one month out from release. Let’s enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019.
When reached by Kotaku, Square Enix wouldn’t elaborate further, but voice actor Quinton Flynn, who plays Axel in Kingdom Hearts, wrote on Twitter that he’d heard “they captured the guy responsible.”
In the meantime, Kingdom Hearts fans at the game’s subreddit have banned all discussion of the leaks. They’ve been waiting nearly 13 years, after all. It’d be a shame to get spoiled so close to the end.