“It was heartbreaking” – How gaming leaks affected the studio behind Bleeding Edge
Leaks have become commonplace in the gaming industry. The widespread adoption of the internet has meant that it’s almost impossible to aim for a situation that everything remains under wraps until its planned announcement. Something will slip through the cracks, and no studio is immune from the possibility of that happening.
Ninja Theory has been one such victim, with the reveal trailer for Bleeding Edge leaking online ahead of its planned announcement at E3 2020. It was an ambitious new multiplayer project, from a studio renowned for its single-player outings. As such, a premature emergence was met with an unusual reception from fans, with unfair conclusions being drawn within a matter of moments.
We spoke to a number of employees at Ninja Theory recently, delving into how Bleeding Edge’s sudden reveal influenced those who spent months building up to it, working on trailers and ensuring the melee-focused hero experience would stand out from the competition in an already crowded market.
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It’s easy to forget that it is in fact passionate individuals who create the games we love, and not faceless corporations. “It upset me,” explains principal animator, Warwick Mellow. “I worked very, very hard on that trailer and it’s one of those things where you want that moment to be really amazing and exclusive.”
The trailer itself leaked a few short hours before Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference, immediately being shared across forums and social media. “Having said that, I don’t think everyone saw it. That’s kind of the age we live in these days; nothing is 100% safe and those things can happen, and in this case it did.”
If Bleeding Edge had been public knowledge before the reveal, the sting would have been lessened – but for a new IP, a leak such as this steals a moment Ninja Theory won’t get back. “Everyone had worked hard. Being able to go and see all the work we’d done on the game was almost like a reward, so when that was taken away it was heartbreaking,” adds lead artist, Aaron McElligott.
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Mellow continues: “We’d spend so much time on the trailer making it look perfect and then the version that leaks is low-res and the rendering is all messed up. It’s like you can’t see all the cool little things, which takes away from the quality; but in the end, we did release the final trailer.” The passion emanating from Ninja Theory is genuinely infectious, although it’s impossible not to have this when the team has spent four years working so hard on the project.
Luckily, after a fumbling start, Bleeding Edge is coming into its own with a passionate community taking part in playable trails ahead of the full release later this month. As McElligott tells me: “It’s nice having people play the game and get their own understanding of it, without making assumptions. I think getting hands-on and touching the game they’ll hopefully enjoy it. And that’s awesome; it beats any of those problems.”
Bleeding Edge is set to launch across Xbox One and Windows 10 on March 24, 2020. Like many Microsoft exclusives, it will be available on Game Pass from the off.