If you were hoping to avoid spoilers before playing Nintendo's highly anticipated follow-up to Breath of the Wild, that goal just got a lot harder: The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom has been leaked. Physical copies of the game appeared on sites over the weekend, apparently selling for up to $300 each. Now, digital copies of the game have shown up online. Some who have downloaded the pirated files have streamed footage of the game's intro and gameplay.
How this all happened still isn't completely clear. According to a thread on the GamingLeaksAndRumors subreddit, players who received the physical game early posted scattered images. One person allegedly dumped the game from a physical cart to a computer and started streaming it on a Discord sever via PC emulation. Eventually, admins on that server said the files were being uploaded to filesharing websites.
These kinds of leaks are becoming more common. Back in 2018, Kingdom Hearts 3 made it to some players six weeks before the title's planned launch. More recently, a hacker acquired a test build of the next Grand Theft Auto game and released more than an hour of footage from the build. And indeed, this has happened to Nintendo before: The Wii U version of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was leaked before launch back in 2017.
Nintendo hasn't commented on the situation yet, but it's likely they'll pursue legal action if they can identify the leaker. The company recently subpoenaed Discord for information on users who leaked a Tears of the Kingdom art book earlier this year. There's also the case of Gary Bowser, a hacker for Team Xecuter who developed and sold devices that enabled people to play pirated games on the Nintendo Switch — he was jailed in 2022, and has been ordered to pay 25-30% of his monthly gross income to Nintendo in restitution for the rest of his life.
Curious what to expect from the new game without having to delve into leaks and spoilers? You can read Engadget's own preview of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom right here.
Nintendo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.