How Bad Are Nintendo’s Leaks Really? Assess the impact

Everyone hates having surprises in store for them. In the gaming industry, leaks have become a constant problem and have popped up just before almost every press event from Nintendo or other game publishers. Many leaks turn out to be true, but at least an equal amount never happens. But what are the long-term consequences of accurate leaks? Do the leaks have any effect on Nintendo or its fan base?

Nintendo’s most hyped leaks

Leaks have been part of Nintendo’s history for many years. Lately, they’ve included things like Nintendo Directs dates and even hardware specs for unreleased consoles like the Nintendo Switch itself. Famous examples include games like Metroid Dread, as well as new leaks for a fire emblem redo and Xenoblade Chronicles 3. The Switch OLED model was leaked as a potential “Switch Pro” and the infamous “Grumpy“leak for Super Smash Bros Ultimate showcased a pipeline of alleged new DLC fighters, though the Grinch leak turned out to be totally wrong even though it ended up getting a few decent characters.

While leaks such as the Great Smash Bros Ultimate kerfuffle were mostly fake, Bloomberg reports on the “Switch Pro” ended up detailing accurately some aspects of the Switch OLED model, like its 7-inch OLED screen. And when the Switch was still only known by its codename, Nintendo NX, specs leaked giving information about its hybrid nature and cartridge usage. So, there’s clearly been no shortage of high-profile leaks for Nintendo’s hardware and software.

But what are the impacts of said leaks? The only metric we can use is sales data when a Nintendo product is released, and judging by how well most of the aforementioned games and consoles have sold, it’s hard to say there’s had a noticeable impact on Nintendo’s sales. Fan expectations are another matter, however.

The effect on expectations

Expectations are a volatile issue when it comes to Nintendo fans, and unfortunately leaks have often heightened them. Fans often expect the world of Nintendo when it comes to explosive announcements, and despite Nintendo’s best efforts to temper fan expectations in recent years, disappointment is inevitable. Leaks Create Expectations For Some Reveals To Appear In Nintendo Storefronts As A Rumor donkey kong game crossed out by Super Mario Odyssey team. So when these games often go unrevealed, fans become irrationally angry with Nintendo, despite the company never officially mentioning such a game.

How Much Damage With Nintendo Switch OLED Model Leaks

In some cases, this can work well. The Ubisoft Leak Mario Kingdom Battle + Rabbids before E3 2017, many fans were really skeptical about this crossover concept. It had lowered expectations so much that many fans found themselves extremely happy with the game’s official reveal.

On the other hand, the elephant in the room is the Nintendo Switch OLED model. Leaks and reports of a “Switch Pro” had been circulating the internet for years before the official reveal, and fan expectations were sky high. When the Switch OLED model was revealed and didn’t have many supposed features such as 4K resolution in docked mode, the hardcore gamer base was dropped and interest in the system was ostensibly reduced.

Nintendo’s certainty may have taken a hit on social media and possibly its online brand image, but it’s hard to determine an effect on sales until the revised console is released this fall. However, it should be kept in mind that the number of consumers who tune in to industry reports and leaks is only a small portion of the total audience for any given Nintendo console.

It doesn’t matter for sales, but it matters to developers and fans

Aside from the uncertainty surrounding the release of the Switch OLED model, many of the most high-profile Nintendo-related leaks have had no effect on Nintendo’s bottom line. The thing is, Nintendo Switch games are selling like wildfire, whatever the circumstances leading to liberation. As a result, it’s easy to assume that Nintendo doesn’t care about situations like these. Still, this speaks to Nintendo as a whole, and there’s a more human cost to developers that’s worth considering. Hard-working devs want nothing more than to reveal their game in the most ideal state possible, and leaks often spill the beans in a way that spoils fans and takes away those devs’ ability to pitch their vision according to their own terms.

reggie shrug

Moving on to the fan side, leaks spoil the surprise of new announcements for many of us, and in today’s internet age, it’s an all too common occurrence. For example, can Nintendo fans still be so excited for a 3D hypothetical Kirby platform game once the surprise reveal of his existence potentially leaked out? The answer depends on an individual’s preferences, although that probably wouldn’t stop them from getting the game if they were interested regardless. All in all, the leaks have little impact on sales of Nintendo’s products, but the effect they have on Nintendo’s online image and the disappointment of developers and gamers is noticeable.

How bad do you think Nintendo’s leaks are?

Timothy C. Mayo