It turns out a Twitter account called TheRealInsider, the latest in a crop of leakers posing as gaming industry insiders, was actually run by YouTuber Dan Allen Gaming. The account had convinced many in the scene that it was the real deal after accurately teasing which new Assassin’s Creed games would be revealed at Ubisoft’s 2022 gaming showcase. But it now appears Allen was simply leaking embargoed, privileged information he received as an influencer. “I’m sorry to everyone for my actions,” he wrote on Twitter before deleting both accounts.
Allen has 189,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel where he posts guides, interviews with voice actors, and playthroughs of everything from Multiversus to Elden Ring. No one suspected him of secretly leaking industry marketing materials he received under embargo until he accidentally responded to someone asking TheRealInsider a question on Twitter as his main Dan Allen Gaming account. After that, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier combed through past tweets from both accounts and discovered plenty of overlap.
“If this is legit — and looking through both accounts, they sure seem to tweet about the same games around the same time — it would explain how this ‘real insider’ knew the AC codenames,” Schreier wrote in a Discord comment. “He broke the embargo himself.”
But people didn’t have to speculate for long though. Allen admitted it shortly after and posted an apology. “I’m sorry to everyone for my actions,” it read. “I’m ashamed and disappointed in myself. I’ll be taking some time to reflect on my poor decisions, which will never occur again. To everyone that has supported me over the years, I’m truely [sic] sorry I let you down.”
There’s a difference between when a journalist uncovers information they consider to be of public interest and presents it to the world, and when a person agrees to an embargo or an NDA, and a company shares information under the assumption that the details won’t be disclosed until a specified date and time.
TheRealInsider’s biggest claim to fame was the Ubisoft leak, teasing the Japan open world RPG called Project Red and several other Assassins’ Creed games four days before the official showcase, and before they were reported on by TryHardGuides and, later that same day, Bloomberg. As Axios’ Stephen Totilo points out, that was the same day Ubisoft briefed press on the showcase (Kotaku did not participate). More often, however, the account has teased upcoming things like hands-on previews, as in the case of Square Enix’s Forspoken. This track record recently turned TheRealInsider into one of the fixtures of the Gaming Leaks and Rumors subreddit, a popular watering hole for fans to speculate about upcoming releases based on industry reports and, more commonly, random tweets.
Allen’s outing comes within a week of the massive Grand Theft Auto VI leak and a Nintendo Direct where many rumored games once again failed to materialize. It’s spurred a renewed debate about the value and ethics of leaking gaming industry secrets, which can run the gamut from where the next Fallout will take place to whether a studio has been mistreating its employees. Plenty of people are sick of the rumor mongering, and developers and marketing specialists are understandably not fans of seeing their work discussed online outside of their control, especially when it revolves around incomplete information or inaccurate information. Does that mean it will end any time soon? Consider me doubtful.
Coincidently, the first outlet to break the news about TheRealInsider was a new publication by industry insider Tom Henderson called, what else, Insider Gaming. While some were critical of the name, which is even invoked on the about page where sources are encouraged to “become an insider” by reaching out, the site immediately broke after launching yesterday when too many people tried to visit it at once. Responded one apparent fan, “Fuck criticism, see you on the inside.”
Update: 9/20/22 10:00 p.m. ET: Allen hasn’t returned to Twitter but he has posted a five minute apology video on his YouTube channel. In it he apologizes profusely to fans, colleagues, and others, and explains that some of the supposed leaks were nothing more than educated guesses or made up altogether.
“I mentioned Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid Remake and I can say that there was no NDA there because it’s all bullshit, it’s all lies,” Allen says. He also mentions that a tease of God of War Ragnarök before the most recent Sony State of Play was, which was later proven accurate, was based purely on Kratos voice actor Christopher Judge retweeting the stream link prior to the showcase.
“I’ve lost industry friends, I’ve lost relationships—personal, business-wise, opportunities—all for you know that five seconds of fame and I take full responsibility,” Allen says. “All the hate I’ve received on Twitter, it’s all just, but I just had to delete it because I’ve just never experienced that barrage of hate before—and again, totally justified—but I just had to step away from that because I’m just, you know, mentally it’s not great to see all those things about you being put out there and I haven’t experienced that before.”
Update: 9/21/22 3:03 p.m. ET: A spokesperson for Ubisoft declined to comment specifically on its relationship with Allen, but provided the following statement more generally:
We regularly provide access and information on our games under NDA to trusted partners. When that trust is compromised, or information is leaked by an individual, it’s not only damaging and demoralizing to our teams, but it takes away from an exciting reveal moment and experience for our players. While we won’t speak on an individual case, we do take these matters seriously and will manage accordingly.