As appears to be ever-more frequently the case, Nintendo has seen another of its first-party games leaked all over the internet almost a week before release. This time it’s Splatoon 3, the much-hyped threequal to the company’s pet project, which is already in some players’ hands ahead of its September 9 release date.
It’s important to begin by saying exactly what is meant by “leak.” Most often, and certainly so in this case, it’s not due to something so nefarious as a hack, or even a disgruntled company employee attempting to spoil a game launch; it’s simply that retail copies got to their customers early. Thus, Splatoon 3 is having footage spammed across Reddit, while cracked versions of the game are reported to have already appeared for PC.
A cursory glance by Kotaku across some of the more obvious places shows no signs of Splatoon 3 files being available, however. Meanwhile, all manner of extraordinarily dodgy sites purport to offer copies, while most likely providing you with a free collection of malware, or password-locked builds with the key hidden behind all manner of costly bullshit. It’s all best avoided.
This all leads to some interesting, and certainly nuanced, territory. The r/Splatoon subreddit has announced its intention to remove any posts that give away previously unrevealed elements of the game’s story, on the basis that they’re considered spoilers. However, it’s worth noting this isn’t a prurient response to the game’s leaking, but rather their standard approach to spoilers, with even stricter story-spoiling rules coming into effect once the game is officially released.
It puts Nintendo in a spot too, since—potential cracked PC versions aside—no one who has mistakenly received a retail copy is doing anything wrong. While the press who have received early review copies (which does not include Kotaku...) will have likely signed NDAs, or at least have agreed to embargo restrictions, members of the public have done no such thing. If their retailer has handed out or mailed a copy early, then they’re free to post footage, write about the story, do whatever they like. Nintendo can then try to chase after it all and request that sites remove such stuff, but I’d question whether they should really be allowed to.
On the other hand, the vast majority of people who are waiting for their copy this Friday don’t want their experience spoiled by the very few who accidentally landed it early. For them, having to spend the week trying to dodge spoilerific videos and posts, while engaging in enjoyable pre-release hype, can be a real gall-ache. They might very well appreciate Nintendo’s grey army having such content deleted.
You might argue: Who is really playing Splatoon 3 for the story? But aside from the answer being, “Loads of people,” of course that’s all there is to spoil, given the multiplayer modes were previously revealed, and the servers to play it on aren’t even online until the game launches.
This is now pretty much de rigueur for Nintendo’s first-party releases, the same having happened in the past year for Metroid Dread, the summer’s Pokemon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl release, and July’s Xenoblade Chronicles 3. And heck, it’s been a pattern for a few years now.
So, if you’re hoping to approach Splatoon 3 completely fresh this Friday, be extra vigilant for what you watch and read for the next few days.