By Quentin H. / December 17th, 2018
“Harry is the final horcrux! Ron marries Hermoine! Snape was really on Dumbledore’s side!”
If you were anywhere near a bookstore at midnight on July 21, 2007 – the day that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the seventh book in the Harry Potter franchise) was released worldwide, there was a non-zero chance that you would have heard those words shouted at you as you were waiting in line to secure your midnight copy of the book.
If you don’t believe me, just check out the video below as the Deathly Hallows ending gets spoiled for people in line for the final book release:
It turned out that four days before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released to the public, the entire 784-page book hardbound book was published online for anyone to read in a series of images on file-sharing websites. And for those unlucky people who had the epilogue ruined for them while waiting in line to discover it for themselves, it had to be easily one of the most frustrating experiences possible.
More recently, two weeks before Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released, the full game was dumped and leaked online, apparently originating from a WarezNX Discord server. Everything was put on display: from the stages and music to the characters and opening video and more.
Do you want to know how Isabelle from Animal Crossing settles it in Smash?
You would have been able to find out early on if you went hunting for it.
Which brings us to the message posted over the weekend by KINGDOM HEARTS III Director Tetsuya Nomura over on the official KINGDOM HEARTS Facebook page:
In the note, Director Nomura-san states, bluntly, that KINGDOM HEARTS III has leaked. He then reveals that the team at SQUARE ENIX held back the epilogue and secret movie for KINGDOM HEARTS III, which he calls “the biggest spoilers in this game” and he states that they “are planned to be released at a later date just in case, so they will not be shown before the game’s release.” Director Nomura-san concludes by stating that the intent of doing this was so that everyone can “enjoy the game together when it releases on January 29, 2019.”
While SQUARE ENIX has not, as of this publication, stated exactly how the epilogue and secret movie will be distributed, it is fair to say that it will probably involve it either being locked on-disc with it becoming unlocked upon verifying with the online servers that it is indeed at least launch day or that it will be available as a (presumably free) day-one patch.
“In this era of increasing [online] connectivity…it only makes sense that SQUARE ENIX, in order to prevent the game from being literally ruined for people who just want to complete the storyline of Sora, Riku, Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy that they began in 2002, would take preventative steps like this.”
I say that this is a good thing, even if I still have serious reservations on how it will be handled in the long-term.
Harking back to the examples I cited at the beginning of the article, people are going to want to spoil major entertainment franchises. The KINGDOM HEARTS franchise has been ongoing since 2002, and there have been multiple video game titles, several manga series, two full orchestra concert series (one of which I covered after E3 2017), a meet up for the KINGDOM HEARTS mobile game (which I also attended in April this year), and more. KINGDOM HEARTS III has been one of the most highly anticipated and highly demanded titles across the entire video game history as a result. Naturally, people want to get ahold of the game early on to enjoy it as early as possible, leak it so more can enjoy it, and (let’s be honest) spoil it for others.
And honestly, these steps are a good thing. It allows people who want to enjoy the full KINGDOM HEARTS III game to be able to do so without facing the potential consequence that the KINGDOM HEARTS III epilogue and secret movie won’t be ruined for the unsuspecting in a buried comment in the /r/knitting subreddit. It also allows SQUARE ENIX to maintain executive control over their product, despite the rest of the world’s best efforts, until launch day when the entire world can explore it all together (unlike those unfortunate souls who had the ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows spoiled for them in the midnight release line).
The biggest issue that will be undoubtedly raised will be “But what about those people who don’t connect their Xbox One/PlayStation 4 online?! How will they be able to experience the epilogue or the secret movie?!” The simple overall message is undeniable: People play and purchase online in increasingly large numbers. This conclusion is buttressed by the fact that in the May 23, 2017 Sony Corporate Strategy Meeting, Sony revealed that there were 70 million “Monthly Active Users” of the PlayStation Network:
When announcing the PlayStation 4 Pro 500 MIllion Limited Edition, Sony stated that there were 81.2 million PlayStation 4 units sold as of July 22, 2018. While the PSN-online numbers undoubtedly also include PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita (remember, we love the Vita here at oprainfall) consoles that are used online, it is clear that the number of players who don’t game online in SOME fashion on Sony platforms (and cannot therefore unlock the KINGDOM HEARTS III epilogue and secret movie) are vanishingly few in number.
In a different and more specific video game example, Activision Blizzard, Inc. revealed during their Q3 2017 earnings call that more than 50% of the copies sold through for Destiny 2 were digital purchases. We are, in fact, connected enough to the internet to be beyond the days where the Xbox One was first revealed by Microsoft (which was mocked by Sony) and subsequently rebuked online in 2013 for the simple requirement of needing to connect occasionally online:
In this era of increasing connectivity, with more gamers than ever before buying content online and connecting their consoles online, it only makes sense that SQUARE ENIX, in order to prevent the plot for KINGDOM HEARTS III from being literally ruined for people who just want to complete the storyline of Sora, Riku, Kairi, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy that they began in 2002, would take preventative steps like this. This novel idea of locking the KINGDOM HEARTS III epilogue and secret movie away as a protection against leaks, in a world where increasingly fewer and fewer consoles are not connected online, is a perfectly reasonable step to take and I personally applaud SQUARE ENIX for having the unfortunate foresight to do so.
Finally, and to a (slightly) less important degree, it incentivizes people to download and install the day-one patch for game bug fixes. After all – you get the epilogue and the secret movie as a bonus to enjoy once you finish KINGDOM HEARTS III! This is really something that cannot be overlooked, and is a clever way to ensure that people play the best version of the game possible.
That all said, there are serious unanswered questions that SQUARE ENIX needs to address with the gamer community at large, even if I am generally supportive of what they did for KINGDOM HEARTS III.
If the KINGDOM HEARTS III epilogue and secret ending are not currently out there in the leaked copies, then exactly how will gamers obtain them? Will SQUARE ENIX lock this content away in a way to prevent the game from having a resale value and therefore prevent the utilization of the ‘first-sale’ doctrine? What will SQUARE ENIX do when the PlayStation 4 servers eventually go offline and this epilogue/secret movie content is no longer accessible (as we have seen with the online services for the PlayStation 2/Original Xbox)?
I honestly hope that whatever SQUARE ENIX has worked out will satisfactorily answer all of these questions, but I seriously cannot think of a satisfactory solution to these questions.
Regardless, I am still buying KINGDOM HEARTS III -and I am looking forward to playing it- on launch day.
You can also check out my hands-on impressions of KINGDOM HEARTS III from E3 2018 and check out our guide to get the Starlight Keyblade DLC for KINGDOM HEARTS III RIGHT NOW before the game launches January 29, 2019.
What do you think of SQUARE ENIX locking away the epilogue and secret movie for KINGDOM HEARTS III? Do you agree with me?
Let us know in the comments below!
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