How should Gamereactor respond to Insomniac leak? –

Whatever I write in an article like this, where I try, as far as possible and as best I can, to outline and structure an official editorial position on leaked data, which is then treated as news material on Gamereactor, there will be some who think it’s wrong. I have long resigned myself to that, and I have also realized that this is and will remain a game of compromise, where no single central solution can act as a kind of skeleton key to all the problems we will face as a press.
In this digital age, we will find ourselves, perhaps increasingly, in a situation where information is provided in morally ambiguous ways. This is the case today with the giant Insomniac leak, where a hacker group stole information from the studio, tried to extort money from Sony and then dumped it all online. But this was also the case when Rockstar was similarly hacked, and when Microsoft itself accidentally uploaded sensitive documents in connection with the Activision Blizzard case.
These are all examples of how these cases are never quite the same, and circumstances can sometimes determine whether the press can decide on a solid moral basis which aspects of this information they will pass on and which are considered presenting factual information from a toxic source.

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How should Gamereactor respond to the Insomniac leak?

In many ways, it’s a lose-lose situation for us, because we are on a fine line between our obvious raison d’être of reporting on a gaming industry that is usually shrouded in more secrecy than any other media industry, and having respect for the studios, the publishers, the people who become the subject of our articles.
I have pricked up my ears in defense of Jason Schreier, who has repeatedly been able to communicate with anonymous sources and then reveal information about upcoming games, about working conditions, about financial results for major AAA launches without the publishers, studios, the people at the head of the companies in question wanting it. It remains my firm belief that we bring news about the industry, about the products in it and the studios that make them. That’s our independent function, and in most cases it’s not our job to cater to Sony, to Microsoft, to Rockstar.
But of course there are exceptions to these rules, and as I said in an earlier post about the Insomniac leak, there is no need to make black-and-white rules that we have to bend as new, unique cases arise, but with the same sign. Each of these cases is different, and we have to deal with that, but it did make me think more about the case and how we as independent news media should respond to this information.

How should Gamereactor respond to the Insomniac leak?

Furthermore, I watched a video by the excellent SkillUp;, in which he asks rhetorically:

“Is it bad that The Verge lists upcoming Insomniac games? Is it distasteful for Eurogamer to cover internal corporate strategy documents that came out of this hack? Is it wrong for IGN to reveal details about a possible exclusivity deal for X-Men characters, pinning them to Sony’s hardware in the same way Spider-Man has been exclusive there since Insomniac’s first Spidey game?

That last one really comes in, doesn’t it? Whether you like it or not, no matter how that information came to light, that’s news, and if the media of games is going to be a functional journalistic entity, and not just enthusiastic press, then we’re obligated to at least cover some of the details that emerged from this hack.”

These words made me realize again that there is not one central solution, not one central strategy, not one skeleton key. Media outlets deliberate, discuss and work out what details emerge from these cases and make active decisions that allow them to live with what they want to present to their readers.

How should Gamereactor respond to Insomniac leak?

This may not be a satisfactory answer for you, especially if you want Gamereactor to adhere to a fixed set of rules and view flexibility as subterfuge or even indefensible. The point is not to try to avoid responsibility for our role in disseminating information from a toxic source, but rather to stand up and present our considerations when it comes to assessing on a case-by-case basis what we should and should not say.

In this regard, I think I can easily admit that I regret that we both published and directly linked to the material stolen from Rockstar. We should have informed you about what had happened and possibly devoted column space to actual revelations, but point you in the direction of the stolen data? We had our heads up our asses.

How should Gamereactor respond to the Insomniac leak?

When it comes to Insomniac, we can’t “put the genie back in the bottle. We can’t pretend that sales data, superficial information about upcoming development plans and internal analysis of previously launched and upcoming titles simply don’t exist. That’s why we’ve chosen to talk about X-Men exclusives, Marvel’s Venom, Bloodborne sales data and more, but we’ll do so without ever showing leaked videos or images, nor will we point you in the direction of leaked gameplay or narrative spoilers – and believe me when I say it’s all there.
Will we need a similar follow-up article the next time there is a high-profile leak and the press has to once again decide where to draw the line? Yes, we probably will, and we will inform you again. This is part of the process, but I especially hope you realize that we don’t take responsibility for granted and that we think about these things before we do or don’t do anything.

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