As Kaplan took the stage at BlizzCon 2019, most everybody watching already knew what he was about to announce. Overwatch 2 had leaked the week prior, deflating what was intended to be a surprise reveal to close out the opening ceremony of Blizzard’s yearly show. Kaplan began his presentation with by passive-aggressively addressing the leaks, sarcastically saying that he had completely forgotten what he was supposed to be saying on stage, but that it was okay because the internet had already compiled his talking points for him. Many saw it as a lighthearted attempt to play off the Overwatch 2 leaks, but Kaplan was understandably frustrated for himself and the Overwatch 2 development team who had been working on the surprise.
Though leaks may not seem like a big deal to most people, Kaplan explained that they can have a really demoralizing impact on the people who are working on the game. In an interview with Kotaku Australia, he said:
We know leaks happen. The example I used this week a lot with the team was [World of Warcraft’s] The Burning Crusade. And a lot of the team hasn’t been around that long, or weren’t part of Burning Crusade, but Burning Crusade leaked in an Italian magazine the week before Blizzcon or the week of Blizzcon that we were supposed to announce [the] expansion.
If you fast-forward to 2019, everybody looks back at Burning Crusade as one of WoW‘s strongest moments, their favourite expansions, and nobody remembers that Burning Crusade was leaked at all. Leaks are very interesting in that they have more of a moral impact on the team than anything else. It’s extremely demoralizing. You feel totally deflated.
Kaplan also talked about how leaks alter the conversation around a topic, with the information presented out of context and “in a way that’s not coherent.”
When you’re trying so hard to deliver something for somebody and to have it be spoiled in a way that’s not coherent, that’s the part that bothers us the most, where people are not given all the information and all of the context that they need to understand what we’re doing.
Our artists are heartbroken: They take such care to make the art look beautiful, and then we get some crappy version of what the art looks like…and then people are like, ‘I don’t know it doesn’t look that good’ and we’re like, no it does, it looks amazing! It’s just a crappy screenshot that someone took, so it can be a bit demoralizing.
Leaks are a topic we’ve discussed more than once here at PlayStaion LifeStyle, mostly in the Daily Reaction column, where we’ve come to the same conclusions that Kaplan made: Leaks are demoralizing for the team working hard towards that day when everything gets revealed and they present information out of context, creating a discourse and conversation around a game that’s ultimately incorrect based on limited data.