This weekend the Internet was a flurry – well as much as it can be on a Bank Holiday Weekend when most rational minded folks have buggered off out of their living rooms and set off for a massively over-crowded tourism hot-spot – with discussion regarding three images that had been uploaded to the web by a random Blockbuster UK employee, detailing the retailers listings for WiiU launch titles.
As an employee of the aforementioned company I have been asked by a few people for my feelings on the matter, and if it was in fact myself whom took the snaps. I’ve never been one to disappoint, so here we go…
The first I was aware of the ‘leak’ was while on shift and a message was sent out to store teams to reiterate the fact that we are not permitted to discuss policies and the like on the Internet as it was a breach of contract, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it was that had prompted such a response on a Bank Holiday. It was obvious that something had gone down online and when I got home from shift I spotted this headline on IGN:
“Blockbuster UK Lists Possible WIIU Launch Titles”
I immediately thought that a web page had been turned live by mistake, but on reading through it suddenly clicked as to what prompted the cascade message. Someone had been a dick.
That said, I’m not at all surprised, in fact I’m more suprised that a leak didn’t happen sooner.
Retail is a tricky area to balance, you need to get pre-orders and to be able to impart information to a query from a customer, and as such it isn’t unusual for something to appear on an internal system prior to an ‘official’ announcement, especially if the title in question is likely to make a big impact. As an example let’s use Call of Duty: Black Ops II. It was always a given that there would be a new CoD in 2012, but until the official announcement many retailers – Gamestation in particular – had a holding page under a generic title ‘Call of Duty ’12’ and the likes. This allowed the system to deal with the sudden influx of orders once the official title and date were released, but it also led to a ‘leak’ as various store POS items were photographed and uploaded to the web.
In an industry in which secrecy is something that has to be furiously fought for, it’s little surprise that ‘leaks’ happen, and let’s be honest they usually just confirm something that has been accepted as a given for ages. As a fellow interested in gaming I was very aware of the reports that the new CoD title would be Black Ops II, and that it would feature a near future setting, and I have known of these rumours for a long while. Secrets are hard to keep because of the rules on copyright, site registry etc… just as films had to ship in codenamed reel cases – Blue Harvest, anyone? – it required a lot of cloak and dagger to avoid the gaze of a million eyes on the Interweb.
So, back to the Blockbuster UK leak, it is unfortunate that an employee saw fit to take the shots and upload them to the web, but it was also an inevitability brought around, in part, by Nintendo holding their cards close to their chest. Only a couple of weeks ago was I having a discussion on this article regarding the lack on information coming from Nintendo concerning what it definitely a very important hardware release. With the world waiting for confirmation of the rumours Nintendo’s approach to the launch seems to be ‘Wait for E3’ which I personally think is a mistake made by many companies as of late. There was a time when shows like E3 were the first time many were aware of upcoming releases, but it was in the days of print media. Now immediacy and urgency is the predominant vibe – for better and worse – and large scale shows are no longer the place to ‘reveal’ things. Of course there have been some surprise reveals, not least the announcement of the Xbox 360S that was available in stores the day after the show, but as a general rule it is mostly confirmation of rumour and speculation, along with premiers of game footage. Nintendo obviously are looking to make a splash at the show, but the impact is already being hampered by leaks such as the Rayman Legends video and the BB UK screens. While Ubisoft were quick to pull in the leaked Rayman trailer, for many of us it was the first glimpse of the extended feature set of the controller, and for me personally it actually raised the profile of the console considerably. I imagine that many other developers would love to leak some footage to avoid what I like to call ‘E3 Bundle Syndrome’, which is a general term I use when discussing those titles that look alright, but sit firmly in the shadow of the AAA titles. The same will likely be applicable to many of the titles listed on the Blockbuster UK inventory page – if it transpires that all the listed titles are in fact launch titles – in the shadow of Rabbids, Assassin’s Creed et al.
So what happens next? Well seasoned web folk will know that Nintendo may likely issue a ‘we don’t comment on…’ release and BB UK will endeavour to stop such an event occurring again, hopefully not at a cost to the customer though. The WiiU is set to be officially revealed in a month’s time, and then we will be able to – hopefully – make up our minds regarding the line up of titles.
Oh, and it wasn’t me who leaked the information, and I can prove it. In the shots it is clear that the monitor is in a counter area with a large walking space, as evidenced by the reflection of numerous lights on the screen. Our shop is perfectly formed – tiny – and as such suffers from no reflections, unless you duck down and reduce the reflective angles. So there. Wasn’t me. I had seen the information, but regardless of the web traffic a leak could have generated, I have issue with store level leaks. It’s cheap and not something I’d ever do.
Also.. I didn’t actually comment on the list of potential release titles, so:
- Aliens: Colonial Marines – Will be getting this on 360.
- Assassin’s Creed – Presumably ACIII, and I’ll be getting it on 360, unless it is a variant as seen with DS/PSP titles.
- Batman Arkham City – Already own, could be interesting.
- Darksiders II – Getting on 360, after a price drop.
- Dirt 3 – Got on 360…
- Formula 1 All Stars – Assuming this is the casual F1 title Codies were talking about recently, coming out on all major systems.
- Game Party – Could be another Wii-like mini-game filled disk, not that I loathe shovelware.
- Ghost Recon Online – Interestingly not Future Soldier, but the PC variant. I expect this is a mistake.
- Just Dance 4 – The best dance game on the Wii/Kinect was bound to launch, but what part will the controller play? I’m intrigued.
- Killer Freaks From Outer Space – Thanks to Cunzy11 I have seen this game in motion, it’s not looking great.
- Marvel Super Heroes – Could be a Super Hero Squad title, or the rumoured Avengers tie-in (or perhaps an update of the great Capcom fighter?)
- Metro Last Light – Already planning on getting for 360, but nice to see such a dark title on a Nintendo platform.
- Monsters Party – Assuming it’s a mini-game collection and not a political comment.
- New Super Mario Brothers Mii – This has been seen before, doesn’t interest me at all. Dead horse, flogged.
- Ninja Gaiden 3 – Given the simplified nature of the 360 version, this could work well with gesture controls.
- Pikmin – Again assuming this is Pikmin 3, which we already know about. Excited about this one.
- Rabbids Party Land – Obligatory and VERY welcome.
- Raving Rabbids – As above.
- Rayman Legends – The one we saw in the ‘leaked’ trailer t’other week. Has great potential. Ubisoft is great for Nintendo.
- Shield Pose – I know nothing of this, but expect it to be in line with Link’s Crossbow Training.
- Splinter Cell 6 – ‘6’ eh? Most likely ‘Retribution’ that is due to be announced *cough*at E3*ahem*
- Sports Connection – Either a typo of ‘collection’ or a game involving glueing baseball bats to tennis balls?
- Tekken – Would have been a surprise had the 3DS Tekken title not have come out. Not sure how controls would work well.
- Your Shape 2013 – Again, from Ubisoft, who put out a great set of launch titles for the 3DS, and no surprise to be on the list.
- Zombie – Lucio Fulci movie tie-in involving motion controlled shark fighting. Perhaps.
So there you go. There are some great titles on the list, and it would be a very strong launch line-up, but as yet unconfirmed. Thoughts? Are leaks an inevitability, and are they actually detrimental?