Modern Warfare 3 mega-leak: Exciting news or mean-spirited sabotage?

We’ve already run abullet-point overview (opens in new tab)of the leaked info, but so that you can decide for yourself how much you want to know, we’re not hosting any of the media or covering every detail. Read it if you want to, but be aware that obviously you’re going to be knee-deep in spoiler territory.

But a leak of this scale is unprecedented. And thus, big questions need to be asked. Who would release this info? What would their motives be? And should a journalist run it, if he or she acquired it? I’m going to tell you how I feel about it, and I want to know how you feel about it too.

Like I said, this is a landmark leak. It’s not a simple “we heard from some guy that you might get a new gun this time around”. If real, the information on Kotaku is tantamount to a serious design document leak, and even contains material that looks like it was set for an E3 presentation. It’s impossible that this could have got out by accident, or as a sneaky tease on Activision’s part to whip up hype. It’s too big and potentially far too damaging than that. Unless of course it’s all fake info that Activision has leaked to whip up hype, before a big “Fnarr! Fooled you!” presentation at E3. Well played, if so. But I doubt that’s the case.

It’s more likely that this was adeliberate moveto blow one of the biggest games of the year wide open, and it very probably came from, or with the assistance of, someone internal at Activision or one of the development teams working on Modern Warfare 3. With so much controversy around Call of Duty recently, given the original Infinity Ward bosses’ ousting from their own studio by Activision management, and what appears to be a great deal of ill will between both parties, conspiracy theorists are going to go nuts. However it happened though, I can’t shake the mean-spirited vibe I’m getting from this whole thing. Everyone, from gamer to developer to publisher, can have something wrecked for them by this. If it did come from an internal source involved in the creation or the publishing of the game, it feels utterly self-defeating and a tad snide.

Should a journalist run this sort of thing, if they manage to acquire it? That all comes down to a personal judgement call. In terms of website traffic, this leak is obviously going to be the goose that layed the golden grenade for Kotaku, but it is going to be damaging. Yes, people can choose not to read any of it if they want to – and we’ve done our best to make sure thatyou keep that choice on Radar – but information gets around, however much you might want to avoid it. This is the internet, after all. One of the biggest gaming experiences of the year for a lot of people might well have been ruined today. And as for the knock-on effect for internet games journalism, well, the bond of trust between game publisher and game writer probably just got a whole lot thinner.

But what do you think? Are you fine with this leak? Are you just excited to have so much info on Modern Warfare 3 today? Or has this been the spoiler to end all spoilers? However you feel about any of this, whatever you think has happened today, let me know. I’m very interested to know what you think.

May 13, 2011

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