The Last Guardian, Leaks, and the Guilt of Almost Killing a Giant
This E3 will go down in the history book as one of the best ever. But for me, personally, there’s only one reason for this: The Last Guardian is back.
The reason that this is so significant is because for years now I’ve watched the fans begging for more — any — information regarding The Last Guardian. Sony execs have been pummeled with the same questions over and over for years: where is it, and when will we see it again? Questions that have always been answered with stock responses. “It’s still in development.” But with each passing E3, Tokyo Game Show, or other industry event, the fear grew that we’d never see it again.
We’re learning now that the former PS3 title may have been too ambitious for the PS3’s complicated architecture, and the move to the more powerful, easier to develop for PS4 was the culprit behind the extended delay.
But I have always felt an immense guilt that this might have been in part my fault, my doing, my cross to bear. As I sat back and learned of Team ICO’s disbanding, the possibility of key members leaving the project completely, and rumors of Fumito Ueda’s departure, the pit in my stomach grew and grew.
Allow me to explain…
It was roughly 6 years and one month to the day that PlayStation LifeStyle leaked footage of “Project Trico”, which was later announced at E3 2009 as The Last Guardian.
I had obtained footage of the work in progress trailer demonstrating Team ICO’s third PlayStation title, set for release on the PS3. I sat on this footage for months, weighing out the impact a leak might have on such a significant title from a fan favorite development studio. As a journalist, I felt compelled to let the world know what was going on right under their noses, and understanding the excitement this would cause would send uproar throughout the gaming community. And it did.
I chose to do this just ahead of E3, figuring, that’s when leaks happen the most anyway and that it would have the most impact. So many outlets have leaked information, footage, images, or whatnot before, and no harm is ever really done. Sure there was a risk of being blacklisted by Sony, and there were definitely trust issues that lasted for a long while after the leak — understandably so — but I took the plunge anyway.
On May 19th 2009, I pulled back the curtain, revealing it to the world.
The Internet went nuts, just as I had suspected it would. And it put PlayStation LifeStyle on the map. The video trailer went on to have a million and a half plus views on YouTube, even with the genuine official trailer being debuted only a short while later and long before YouTube became the powerhouse it is today.
The leak was covered on every major gaming website, and was being discussed on every forum. Not only was the talk of excitement of the game, but wondering who the hell PlayStation LifeStyle was and how such an unknown — at the time — site came across such top secret information.
Traffic came rolling in, the site was now a name people knew, and yet, if I could take it all back… I would.
Hindsight is 20/20, and I almost immediately regretted my decision. At first, it was due to cancelled E3 appointments and getting the cold shoulder from Sony — a company clearly vital to the site’s existence. I would much rather the site be built on a foundation of solid editorial coverage, variety, personality, quality, and integrity — the characteristics we’re known for today. Instead, I had people coming back for their next fix of rumors and conjecture.
I could deal with that, and rebuild my fledgling site’s reputation on a better foundation. What has been the most difficult for me has been watching the promising title — a title I too was excited about and had personal stake in —become a sort of running joke, with so many people confident it’d never see the light of day again.
It wasn’t even a millisecond into the Sony Press Conference re-debut when I knew it was The Last Guardian was being shown. I know those floating speckles of dust anywhere — the vision of the opening of the previous trailer is burned into my mind forever. I’ve watched and analyzed that video more than any other in my career.
And I felt relief.
I’m not so full of myself that I think I’m solely responsible for what happened with The Last Guardian, but I have felt guilt for many years now — guilt that I can finally let go of as this giant lives again.