You may have heard of the controversy at Kotaku where they got blacklisted by Nintendo, so they resorted to reporting leaks on Tears of the Kingdom because they didn’t get an early review copy of the game. Is anyone in the right or the wrong here?

I think both parties here are “in the right” in that they each chose actions they are perfectly within their rights to choose.

Nintendo, Sony, EA, Activision, or whatever other publisher do not owe any particular influencer or media outlet preview copies of their games. They can choose to give those preview copies to whoever they wish - news sites, bloggers, streamers, content creators, or whoever. If they don’t give it to a particular influencer, then they don’t get to reach that influencer’s audience early. That is the tradeoff to the publisher - their marketing department wants their advertising to reach the target audience for their upcoming games. Choosing not to give a preview copy to a particular influencer is choosing to sacrifice some amount of reaching that influencer’s audience.

Similarly, Kotaku chooses what they publish. Kotaku was originally blacklisted by Nintendo for publishing an article that mentioned emulators working with Metroid Dread while it was still new. Kotaku gets to choose what they publish, but they also must accept the consequences of their actions. If they do things that run counter to the desires and wishes of game publishers like publishing articles about the Tears of the Kingdom leaks, it is understandable that game publishers like Nintendo would not want to work with them. Kotaku is free to publish what they like, but they are not (and should not be) free of the consequences of those editorial choices.

I think it’s also worth mentioning that the retaliatory practices here are primarily about allowing the publishers to sell their games in a reasonable way (e.g. not tacitly encouraging pirating games), rather than the publishers retaliating for news sites exposing bad business practices or treatment of workers. To my knowledge, there has never been any blacklisting or retaliation for the news like Riot’s internal sexual harassment issues, Blizzard’s predatory leadership problems, political issues like Blitzchung and Hong Kong, DICE and Battlefield’s loot box problems, or player-unfriendly monetization practices. The blacklists seem to exist for select topics so I, personally, have a hard time feeling any kind of sympathy for Kotaku on this one.

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