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Leaks.

A word so meaningful and so versatile. See, I say leaks, and you don’t know yet if I’m talking about my body after my last food poisoning, Kim Kardashian’s source of fame, Edward Snowden, video games, Hilary Clinton’s emails, or The Fappening. Everything is possible and impossible is nothing (no, we don’t collect Adidas checks for plugs).

By virtue of elimination, we can arrive at a conclusion though: Kim K and The Fappening do not fall within our EarlyGame PG-realm. Snowden and Hilary are too political and, though this is a personal column, I have no intention to write about my bodily food poison leaks from January. Maybe another time... when clicks get dire and creativity turns into desperation.

So, yes, you guessed it, Sherlock: We’re talking about video game leaks. This is a gaming site after all, so this was hardly suspenseful, but it was a nice little opening paragraph, wasn’t it? So take the above, pick whatever visual gets you in the mood and let’s jump into this EarlyGame Talk:

Ever since Mr.Robot, everybody's as much of a hacking expert as Corona has made us virologists. The dawn of smartphone hacking actually comes in handy too: That racial tweet? Wasn’t me. That inappropriate selfie? Wasn’t me. Those drunk messages? Wasn’t me. Everybody’s out here on their '99 Shaggy, using the same scapegoat: The evil hacker.

Really, though, this isn’t anything new – it’s just a continuation of what we’ve all done in the past: Texting your crush something random or risqué, only to claim wrong chat lol”. 2021 just changed it to “got hacked lol”. All the while, the victim is sitting there fully aware that they did this of their own volition. Nobody hacked you, you leaked that tape to get famous, Kim. Oh, and that food poisoning – I knew what I was doing when I found that pre-Corona M&M under my bed. I knew and I'd do it again.

So, we're 300-something words in without mentioning a game and yet you already know my opinion on video game leaks... this is a writer’s gift.

The marketing method that started as spicy bedroom VHS tapes in the early 90s has since infested the video game industry via social media: No, Activision, that Call of Duty Warzone leak wasn’t a leak – you knew that packaging it as such would create headlines and attention. I mean, how does every big video game have a leak before every big announcement? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I don’t buy it. "Leak", you say? "Fake news", I scream – and build my presidential campaign around that, but I digress... 

Is it still funny to make Donald Trump jokes? (Credit: NBC)

Anytime, anything of value is on the brink of a reveal or release... a leak happens. "Coïncidence?" I ask in a French accent. "Je ne crois pas" – and if you haven't been keeping up to date with your Emily in Paris lessons, I just said: I don't think so, boo.

Of course, there are two sides to every coin and a good journalist appreciates them both equally. Because journalists are broke. Let’s dig deeper:

I consider myself a well-educated man, and by that I mean that I watch short, two-minutes-or-less videos of celebrities feeding me "wisdom" that I buy into because they have the looks, charm and articulation to convey it to me in a way that it remains memorable. There, I admitted it. One of these moments of wisdom came a while back, by the way of Monsieur Denzel Washington:

"If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do read it, you’re misinformed. What is the long-term effect of too much information? One of the effects is the need to be first, not even to be true anymore [...] We live in a society where it’s "just first, who cares, get it out there, we don’t care who it hurts, we don’t care who it destroys, we don’t care if it’s true, just say it, sell it."

With that in mind, maybe there’s another truth to these leaks: Maybe they are actual leaks. Maybe it's actual employees getting caught up in our culture of attention-seeking that Denzel so eloquently speaks of. These people have something to say and, dammit, they will say it for their 15 seconds of fame. If it sells, they shall speak their non-truths. And, boy oh boy, does it sell: I mean, we’re eating this stuff up. We’re reporting on it, reading about it, tweeting about it, discussing it on Reddit, discussing it with friends. We love gossip and leaks are nothing but another form of that. God of Ward devs drop a tweet on an Aztec holiday? God of War Aztec setting confirmed!

Whatever the origin, the outcome is always the same: Leaks generate attention. Be it for the one who accidentally leaked information or the one who did so on purpose. Sometimes that attention hurts people and sometimes that happens within our realm of video games: Just last year, it hurt The Last of Us 2 developers who worked hard on an emotional storyline, only to have its ending leaked by a selfish employee seeking attention.

Who’s to blame, though? The leaker or the consumer? The answer, as always, lies somewhere in the middle: Supply and demand. Without demand, there will be no supply.

Thus, I will end this EarlyGame Talk on an unexpected note: Let’s do like Michael Jackson did and start with the man in the mirror.

Oh, also, read our latest leak news.

Sorry, not sorry.