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Zelda: Tears Of The Kingdom's Leaks Aren't Good For Anyone

Update 5/8/2022: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Nintendo hacker Gary Bowser as "Doug Bowser." The article has since been updated.

The official launch day for "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" is right within reach, and anticipation for the newest game in Nintendo's long-running fantasy series has reached a fever pitch. Between picking apart every last gameplay preview and discussing wild theories about the plot and series' lore, fans have been able to keep themselves relatively entertained while counting down the days to launch. The only thing dampening gamers' spirits is the fact that unknown actors just couldn't help but spoil the game by leaking it online well before release day. For some folks picking up the game on May 12, their enjoyment of the game has already been irreparably tarnished — and it's just not fair.


In fact, it's safe to say that these leaks aren't good for anybody involved. Not the fans, not the leakers, and certainly not the developers who have been working on this game since before "Breath of the Wild" even hit store shelves. Yes, this is going to be a bit of a lecture, but come on: Why are people acting like there's anything cool about stealing this game?

Spoilers can be a real blow to some hardcore fans

Look, spoilers aren't a huge deal for everyone. Thanks to the internet, an entire culture of spoiler-sharing has arisen, with fans of film, television, and video games delighting in talking about specific plot points in various media before the rest of the world has gotten to enjoy it. Not all of these fans do this with the intention of ruining the experience for others, of course. For some fans, it can be just as fun to hear about something early as it is to experience it for themselves. But that's certainly not the case for a wide swath of gamers, particularly when it comes to a series with lore as dense as "The Legend of Zelda."


Fans have spent decades trying to untangle the various timelines and inconsistencies in this franchise, and each new game acts as an opportunity to put together one more piece of the puzzle. Seeing an out-of-context cutscene or spoiler post on social media almost immediately obliterates some of that mystery and joy of discovery. It's hard to get excited about hunting for clues when they're already on Twitter before the game is even in one's hands.

Nintendo piracy is typically a dangerous idea

If you don't work directly for Nintendo or one of its subsidiaries, it's typically a pretty terrible idea to try to make money off of Nintendo's property. Some video game pirates have certainly learned that the hard way. Just look at Gary Bowser, a hacker who was ordered to pay Nintendo $45 million for his involvement in selling mods allowing pirated games to be played on the Switch. He's spent months in prison and is still facing a very difficult road ahead after a lengthy court case. His pay will likely be docked for the rest of his life as he tries to pay Nintendo's costly settlement fees.


Even when the consequences aren't quite as dire, they can still impact a leaker's livelihood and reputation. A number of streamers and Twitter users have had their accounts disabled after they've shown off embargoed footage from "Tears of the Kingdom" or admitted to playing the game early. At the end of the day, even for those who believe in video game preservation, it simply doesn't pay to be a Nintendo pirate. 

Nintendo went so far as to ask Discord to aid in an investigation into the leak of the "Tears of the Kingdom" artbook. It's safe to say the company is probably even more unhappy with the folks who've made it possible to emulate the whole game.

The developers didn't work on this for six years to have it leaked

Development on "The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom" began way back in 2017, with Nintendo correctly predicting that "Breath of the Wild" would be a smash success with players. In the years since, Nintendo has kept details of the game's plot, mechanics, and even its actual title a closely guarded secret. This has not only allowed the company to build up an incredible amount of hype for the project, but also afforded the developers the opportunity to continue their work unimpeded. In that time, advancements in the real of open-world gaming, including the release of "Red Dead Redemption 2," have influenced the development of "Tears of the Kingdom," but the studio has never had to worry about fans scrutinizing their work before it's ready.


Aside from the copies sent to reviewers ahead of release, the game was never meant to be seen before May 12 — and it certainly was never meant to be pirated before it was available at retailers. To have six years of hard work simply dumped online for anyone to download and exploit must feel like a slap in the face to the team members who have toiled and iterated on the title for the better part of a decade.

The cat is definitely out of the bag with this one, but hopefully these leaks don't completely ruin the experience for fans who have been waiting to play the game as Nintendo intended. Judging by the early rave reviews, it sounds like Nintendo still has a hit on its hands.