During the latest episode of Paradox Interactive’s in-house podcast, chief marketing officer Daniel Goldberg and chief business development officer Shams Jorjani tackled the topic of leaks, specifically how these situations feel from the developers’ side. These kinds of candid discussions are a rarity in the video game industry, and the unusual perspective here makes for a compelling conversation.
To start with, the podcasters admit that leaks are inevitable. As video game development grows, more and more people need to become involved just to get them out the door. This opens the production up to several new opportunities for leaks, whether from a supporting studio, social media influencers, or even retail employees. But leaks aren’t always a death sentence; in fact, right after Paradox recorded this podcast, the release date for its next game, Crusader Kings III, accidentally appeared early on an online storefront.
“Our original announcement for the launch date was very carefully planned to coincide with the Paradox publisher weekend on Steam,” Goldberg says. “A great media campaign, with preview articles and a kick-ass trailer all going live at the same time to boost this announcement. As you can imagine, this spoiled a little bit of the fun, but also, as you’ll hear on the podcast, it’s not really the end of the world.”
The notion that leaks aren’t necessarily deadly serious carries through much of the podcast. As Paradox chief product officer Julien Wera explained further into the episode, leaks can also be a good indication of the excitement around a game. Jonathan Whitley, who handles influencer relations for the studio, went a step further, saying that leaks can sometimes even be better from a marketing standpoint than whatever was originally planned.
Paradox has suffered several leaks over the last few years, most notably the early reveal of the Sunset Harbor expansion for Cities: Skylines. According to Goldberg, however, Sunset Harbor quickly became one of the city-building game’s best-selling expansions after launching back in March. It can be demoralizing when something you had planned doesn’t work out, sure, but at least with Sunset Harbor, the leak didn’t really affect Paradox’s bottom line.
“Stuff leaking means that we have less power and less ammunition to actually build awareness for something,” Goldberg said. “But let’s not over-dramatize. At the end of the day, if people get excited about something, that’s what you want.”