While developers and publishers would rather they not be, embargo breakers have become commonplace in video game news reporting. Whether it’s a highly anticipated sequel, unannounced console specs, or even a shake-up within a company, oftentimes well-kept secrets get out ahead of schedule.
One of the more recent examples of embargo breaking took place just a few days ago with the announcement of Halo 5: Guardians on May 16th. Had the Halo announcement gone of as planned, gamers would have been caught almost completely by surprise, both by the game's subtitle and its release date; but instead the reveal of Halo 5 was undercut by expectation.
Although it doesn't look like embargo-breaking insiders are going away any time soon, 343 Industries' Frank O'Connor hopes those who consider crossing the threshold think twice in the future. In a candid post on NeoGAF, O'Connor shared his perspective on breaking embargos, explaining how leaks of this magnitude can oftentimes have real world consequences.
Breaking embargos is not prophesy. Nor does it require any particular skill or insight. Ultimately he is taking or being given information and leaking it, illegally and often erroneously.
And he isn't doing it for some noble or worthy reason. He's doing it for attention.
People, including nice people with kids and families and stuff, work super hard on this stuff and wake up in the morning to find some of their effort blown up.
It's not fun, and for what? So you can have a mildly interesting surprise 8 hours early and lacking context? Or get hyped or disappointed disproportionately?
Or get someone fired or someone innocent yelled at?
Ok. But it isn't prophecy, nor ultimately even important. It's annoying.
Obviously, it's hard not to see O'Connor's point. Planning a major reveal like Halo 5's must have required a fair bit of effort, and then to see that reveal spoiled has to be deflating. Once it's out there, though, there isn't much 343 can do expect stick to their plan and hope that gamers are still excited when the official news breaks.
Luckily, in Halo 5's case, the prior rumors were fairly cryptic, and only made sense once the actual announcement came through. Not to mention, 343 followed up the announcement with concept art for the game and news of the box art's mysterious soldier. But we'll admit that once the rumors started flying we, like most gamers, assumed a Halo 5 announcement was incoming.
And while O'Connor doesn't address it in his post, one has to imagine the recent leak regarding the Halo: Master Chief Collection for Xbox One has to have further proven the 343 boss' distaste for leaks. In that case, though, 343 has yet to confirm the existence of Xbox One ports, but the evidence is growing.
Rumors, embargo-breaking insiders, and even misdirection are a natural part of the business these days, and while it's always best to hear it straight from the source sometimes anticipation takes over. We'd like to think that O'Connor's post will discourage insiders from leaking important information - that they would consider the ramifications for the developer's employees - but with E3 2014 right around the corner it's more likely that the rumors will only fly in at an even greater rate.
How do you feel about insiders breaking embargo and revealing news earlier? When do you start to believe a rumor?
Follow Anthony on Twitter @ANTaormina