Who really ‘leaks’ stuff? Is it an employee or a cousin they bring in to ‘see how stuff works’ who slips a disk into their pocket on the way out? Does someone hack a developing studio’s server or have some kind of backdoor that passes info to a remote computer?
You never had this back in the days of cassettes and to an extent, 5¼” floppy disks although, people copied them, everybody did it since you could fit like 30 games on an old TDK D90 cassette, but software was never ‘leaked’.. at least, not to my knowledge and it would take an extreme Google search to find out if it did.
Even for magazines (the internet wasn’t really around in the 80′s) to review games, they would receive code and maybe it’s thanks to the internet that ‘leaks’ are as possible as they are now. The only way games would get leaked is if an office employee had access to a twin cassette deck that had tape-to-tape recording abilities, took his (or her, let’s not be sexist here :p ) copy home for one of his friends to copy it and so on and so forth. Today, it’s just a case of someone in the gaming industry to take a review copy, rip it and torrented to the masses, that’s what is so annoying, but is there anything anyone can do to stop or at least, pinpoint the problem?!
One possible resolution, as someone once pointed out, would be to put a traceable number in the code, so that if it appeared on torrent sites, it could be traced to the person/website who had received it and action taken against them, regardless of who actually ‘leaked’ the software. Whether that would be effective enough to stop or even slow down early leaks is pretty doubtful as someone would find a way around it, but what is worse is when early code or betas get released and spoilers end up posted all over the net.
Some general screenshots don’t really matter, video and plots are what spoil it for everyone and especially those that are trying to avoid major information and be able to enjoy the title on release. Developers and publishers release assets and information at their own pace so as not to give too much away and it’s up to websites (like this one, for example) to pass on that information, then you get the ‘gone gold’ news and reviewers get a copy of the game from around a week before release, which is when games tend to get leaked.
This isn’t all about piracy which is obviously a definite concern, it’s not really about the leaking of software in general, it’s just a plea to help stop leaks of any kind and especially from industry insiders. What is wrong with you, don’t you like the company you’re working for? There’s no excuse for it, people who release anything unauthorized should get named, shamed and exiled from having anything to do with the videogame industry ever again.