We need to have a talk about leaks. No, I’m not here to go into any deep analysis of the leaks that have been released about the next expansion. There isn’t much to say about them that hasn’t already been said elsewhere. What I do want to talk about are the three sides that people fall on after a leak happens.
In reality, there are really only two sides for fans to take so I’ll address the third side first, Arenanet employees themselves. Ultimately, unless Arenanet themselves are responsible for the leaks having incomplete information leaked does them more harm than good. Yes, it can be argued that it raises the hype, but it might be disappointing too. If you’ve been playing through the dry spells waiting for the next expansion and you were hoping it was going to go into the Shiverpeaks but it turns out we’re going into the desert, you’re disappointed. You might even stop playing. After all, we’re looking at more than a year until you might possibly see what you want. So you go play something else. That means you won’t be around to buy the new outfits and weapons when they’re released. You aren’t putting in money and that hurts Arenanet’s bottom line.
Leaks are also an incomplete and in some cases an early, early look that is nothing like what the final product turns out to be. Arenanet is hard at work on this next expansion for us but they’re only part of the way there. It would be like if half of the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie was released early and everything was still green screens and Rocket was nothing more than Sean Gunn running around in a tight green unitard. It isn’t fair to all the people who spent their time making the movie for people to see it in that incomplete state and judge it based on what they see. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is great by the way, do go see it. Stay until the end of the credits. This same thing applies to the next Guild Wars 2 expansion.
Leaks also make it incredibly difficult for Arenanet to keep the hype up before release. While some people are eager to get more in-depth information about the different elite specs that were revealed there are some that are satisfied with what little we know from the leak. Because of this leak, Arenanet will have to alter their reveal plan if they want to keep the hype alive.
The People Who Love the Leaks
So now we get into the fans. The majority of fans fall into the category of people who love the leaks. They will grab on to every little scrap of information and cherish it until they get more. Anyone who runs a fan site or youtube channel most likely falls into this category. This leak will fuel content for months, and yeah, this column will be included in that. It simply isn’t something that can be ignored and I don’t think it should be either.
What it does do is offer an opportunity for speculation. Speculation that will help fuel the hype over the next few months while we wait for it to be time for actual information to be released. WoodenPotatoes has taken a stance against the leaks. He falls in the last category. Where he likes to do wild speculation based on things that are already in the world I find that having a direction to point in is far more appealing. I enjoy knowing that this class is going to get swords and using that as a jumping off point to speculate further.
For people who aren’t content creators, it is still incredibly exciting to see the leak. If you really stretch each living story episode out you might be able to get 3 weeks worth of things to do, but who really goes that slow? That leaves months of nothing to do, another dry spell that has been happening over and over again throughout the living story. There’s nothing to be excited about so people are quick to wander away. Except now there is. There’s something to talk about, new information, and new things to look forward to. It gives people a goal and something to work towards. People may start hoarding resources now in anticipation of the new elites. They’ll start working on legendary weapons that they had previously not wanted. For the people who like the leaks, it brings new life to a game that has quite frankly been a bit stale.
The People That Hate the Leaks
There are a group of people who hate the leaks. They seem to be far less vocal and people who don’t fall into this category seem to struggle with understanding their point of view. WoodenPotatoes has put out a video discussing the leaks from this point of view. He talks about his experience leading up to the end of the first season of the living story and the negative impact it had on him. He knew what was coming and that made it so he couldn’t enjoy the reveal like others. I had the very same problem with a press preview of the most recently living story. I could have attended, but then I might potentially learn who Lazarus really is and that would ruin my actual playthrough, so I opted not to do it.
Something similar also happened to me right before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Less than an hour before we were going to a midnight showing of the movie in one of the first countries in the world to get the movie I had a major plot point spoiled for me. I’m not a fan of Star Wars by any means and I was still hugely disappointed and annoyed. When it got to the point in the movie when it happened I knew it was coming. I was taken out of the moment and the impact was gone. All I was thinking about was that asshat who ruined it for me. Seriously, screw you guy! I’m still annoyed. People don’t want their movies ruined, is it really any surprise that people don’t want their games ruined either? It shouldn’t be. Many people who hate the leaks are also creative types themselves. They’re looking at it from the point of view of Arenanet and they feel for them.
Are there other reasons people might not like the leaks? Quite possibly, but I will admit that I don’t understand their point of view very well. Nor do I understand why I’m perfectly ok with some reveals in the form of leaks but spoilers are intolerable. Is it because of the content? If the identity of Lazarus had been revealed early would I have been annoyed? You bet your ass I would. But if we got leaks of what the elder dragons we’ve not seen yet look like I would be excited.
Leaks are a complicated topic that needs to be handled with care and will always divide the community. For the people who like the leaks, keep in mind the people who don’t. Don’t go around posting details or pictures in places where those who don’t want the spoilers might see them. Mark everything you post with spoiler warnings. For the people who hate spoilers and the leaks, be careful where you browse. These recent leaks are now common knowledge. They won’t be labeled with spoiler tags anymore and people will be discussing them freely. At some point, you will have to decide if you want to remain part of the community but end up seeing spoilers or if you want to bury your head in the sand for the next 6+ months. My promise to you as someone who despises spoilers is that until the information is officially announced I will always mark my spoilers in the titles and the titles themselves won’t contain any spoilers. I also won’t use any spoiler images as the featured image on my article. But I also won’t completely ignore them either. There’s a lot to be talked about and I am going to embrace that. It won’t be the only thing I cover though. Expect an article next week about the current episode of the living story.
With all of this in mind, I would love to know what you think of the leaks. Have they gone too far? Have they not gone far enough? I would also be interested in hearing your thoughts about spoilers in movies. Do you feel the same way about spoilers from movies that you do video games? No matter which side you stand on try to be respectful of the views of the other side. Also, remember to keep supporting Arenanet. They’re working hard and even if you do enjoy the leaks it wasn’t fair for the employees to have this spoiled for them. Keep the hype alive however you can and keep on playing. That’s what I plan on doing. Also, I might be eyeing a few legendary weapons that I wasn’t before, but that’s something else entirely!Related: ArenaNet, Column, Guild Wars 2, Leak, MMORPG, The Tyrian Chronicle