Data mining and leaks are nothing new in the gaming industry, but recent Pokemon Sword and Shield leaks may lead game developers to deal with them a bit differently in the near future.
The Pokemon Company International has been given permission to identify individuals that proliferated information regarding unreleased Pokemon designs and take legal action against them.
A lawsuit against the nameless targets is allowing the company to issue subpoenas against Discord and 4chan that would force the companies to reveal information regarding the users that first leaked the images.
On November 1, an anonymous individual posted a picture of a new Pokemon form, Gigantamax Machamp, on Discord. The image was then shared on 4chan 20 minutes later. After another 10 minutes, the screenshots found their way to Reddit, followed by another 18 pictures on Discord.
According to its lawsuit, the Pokemon Company International uncovered 300 web pages on dozens of platforms containing “leaked Strategy Guide pictures.”
Perkins Coie lawyers wrote in the lawsuit that the leaks caused “irreparable injury” to the Pokemon Company International, which is now “entitled to damages in an amount to be proven at trial.” The lawsuit also reads that the leaks reduced “fan interest and engagement,” and rendered the strategy guide basically useless since the details were no longer a secret.
The lawsuit can be read in full here.
While the perpetrators are currently only identified in the lawsuit by their Discord usernames, it’s possible that the original leaker was an employee of the Pokemon Company International. This wouldn’t be the first time that someone that works for a game designer was responsible for leaking confidential information.
In October, Epic Games sued a playtester for leaking details on Fortnite Chapter 2 and the game’s new map. The worker had leaked the sensitive information on Twitter before Chapter 2’s reveal, taking away the mystery of Fortnite’s black hole event.
Epic Games sued another former employee last year when they leaked Season 4 details ahead of the update’s release. The former quality assurance contractor claimed that he had no intention of spilling leaks to the public and had simply shared details with a friend, who revealed the information publicly. Still, the damage was done.
While outright leaking unreleased game information is often a clear breach of contract, data mining continues to be a more controversial topic. Since the game’s files are technically available to the public, it’s hard to argue that a player looking through the files is doing anything against the law.
Some even believe that game developers love data miners and feed them information in hopes of creating excitement before an update’s official release.
Data mining is especially common in games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. The latter of the two battle royale titles has even had its entire list of upcoming legends leaked thanks to information within the game’s files. But the data-mined legends have only caused chatter and speculation about Apex Legends’ future plans, which is quite the opposite of what the Pokemon Company International is claiming leaks have done to Sword and Shield’s hype.