After audiences finished “Mass Effect 2,” they eagerly awaited “Mass Effect 3.” So imagine their surprise when an early build of the third game leaked onto Xbox Live in 2012. Of course, the leak was accidental, but by the time it was removed, the damage had already been done — especially since hackers had sifted through the code and posted the game’s script online (via PC Gamer).
Since the “Mass Effect” games focus heavily on narrative, leaking a game’s script before its release is a major kick in the teeth. What’s the point of playing a game for the story if you already know what will happen? Seeing how fan feedback can alter an in-development game sounds like a pretty good reason.
While BioWare was initially disheartened by the leak, the company eventually saw it as a blessing in disguise. The online narrative dump got people talking about “Mass Effect 3,” and in the entertainment world, there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Many gamers would probably love to uncover video game spoilers, post them on the internet, and then yell, “CALLED IT!” when the game releases and their leaks prove true. While not great, nobody gets hurt there, save a developer’s pride — and maybe their paycheck. When a leak includes personal information, that’s when things can truly get dangerous.
E3 2019 will live on in infamy for a number of reasons, chief among them the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which runs the expo. Freelance journalist Sophia Narwitz discovered that the ESA’s E3 website, for some unexplained reason, gave unrestricted public access to a spreadsheet containing the personal information of registered attendees. While journalists for established outlets only provided their company credentials, freelancers weren’t so lucky. The ESA unintentionally revealed the home addresses and phone numbers of these journalists for hire. According to Kotaku, several of these journalists received “crank phone calls” after word spread of the leak.
Once the ESA learned of its horrific gaffe, it hunted down and removed all these lists. The company’s search even uncovered a cached third-party archive, which was promptly removed. Furthermore, the ESA contracted a cybersecurity firm to update the E3 website with “enhanced and layered security measures” to prevent future doxxings.
Given the ESA leak’s severity, those journalists are lucky the worst they had to endure was fear of receiving a call asking if their refrigerators were running. Hopefully, a leak like this won’t happen again.
NDAs are serious business. Whenever a company is contracted to work on a game, its employees are similarly bound to silence. If a rogue element breaks that NDA to leak an early build of the game, their actions can jeopardize the company’s future, positive feedback be damned.
Since AMD (ATI’s current parent company) is now supporting iD Software games such as “Doom Eternal” with GPU updates, tempers might have since cooled. However, this leak serves as a warning to all coders: You must keep your NDA-protected project a secret.
This content was originally published here.