(Disclosure: This blog is not meant to sway one opinion over another. It's simply meant to open a discussion and I'd love to hear your opinions. The good, the bad, and the ugly...Feel free to share your thoughts below!)
Regardless if you're a not Smash Bros fan or don't follow the Smash community closely, chances are you've at least heard murmurs of the Grinch Leak just from following normal gaming news. Here is a quick rundown of the Grinch Leak for those of you who've been living under a rock for the past few weeks. An employee of a French printing company posted some blurred imagines of promotional material for Illumination Entertainment's upcoming film "The Grinch" (hence the fan name of the leak) and Nintendo's highly anticipated brawler "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" - both set to release within the next two months. The blurred image was two versions of the "Everyone is Here" banner. One with a few blank spots and the other filled in with the newcomers. The internet being the internet went berserk over these imagines and began to obsessively decrypt the blurred pictures. This lead to many discussions on a variety of channels regarding the credibility of the leak, was it real or fake, which characters would be available at launch, and just overall talk of the game all the way until Nintendo's official announcement with this morning's Smash Direct.
The thing about confidential information is releasing it before an approved time is a very serious offense. Many employers require their employees to sign non-disclosure agreements which state that they will not discuss any sensitive details publically or even internally unless it's with the need-to-know party. These agreements often come with severe consequences such as termination, and often with risks of legal action from their (now former) employer. Not to mention a rather awkward answer to the question, "Why did you leave your previous job?". This raises the question as to why someone would risk their possible livelihood and professional reputation to gain internet cool points. Are they really just a super excited fan that cannot contain themselves? Or are they a disgruntled employee who doesn't care about any possible repercussions? Regardless of the answer, a popular belief is that leaks are really just marketing ploys, and everything about the Grinch Leak points to such.
Leaks are nothing new. They've existed in the entertainment industry for decades. In this day and age of social media and cameras on every phone, I'm willing to argue that leaks are almost expected. It's always safe to assume that there's that one trigger-happy employee that is willing to share a studio's secrets to the world for one reason or another. The interesting thing about the Grinch Lear is the employee's name was discovered. The man in question is an "Eric Bricard" who's Linkedin profile originally showed ties to Bandi-Namco. however, his profile has disappeared since the leak and the alleged company - Marina PLV - has claimed that the "person involved in this rumor" hasn't been with the company since November 2016. While Marina PLV has been claiming no responsibility for the leak, I find it quite strange that someone who hasn't been employed with them in nearly two years was able to come into contact with this sensitive information. It makes you wonder if "Eric Bricard" even existed.
Naturally, I'm not saying he doesn't, but there are quite a few career paths that do specialize in making online personas believable. This means that they put together a fictional human being to promote a product. Again, I'm not implying that Eric isn't a real person - because he might be - but it possible that outdated, personal information was used to add credibility to this leak for the sake of cheap marketing. Needless to say, it costs a company little to nothing for someone to release blurred imagines and get their consumer base talking. Dedicated fans may be outraged by the results, but they are talking about nonetheless. As the old saying goes, "any publicity is good publicity".
Not only that but if this was an individual that didn't fear any possible career suicide by releasing these images...Why post these images in such blurred, low quality? You'd think that Eric, or anyone in his position, would take the extra 30 seconds to better focus the camera if they really wanted to release this information for whatever personal reasons they had. They always say a picture is worth a thousand words. To simply put it, there's more speculation and reasons to talk over an image that isn't clear than one that is - even with as little context as the gaming community received from the leak itself.
So what say you? Are leaks legitimate confidential information being released by someone who thinks they can get away with it, or are they a form of guerrilla marketing?