In the year leading up to the big reveal of the Nintendo Switch there were a substantial number of leaks and rumours, many of which turned out to be correct. Nintendo, known for being so stringent with secrets in the past, was seeing many of its surprises splattered online well before they were officially aired.
It seems the company has undergone extensive internal work to stop such leaks. An anonymous source leaked the details to us on the approach Nintendo's management took to shut down online rumours, and forwarded an image used in an internal presentation of the project's goals. An abandoned idea for a project name was the 'Samus Seekers', but the team wanted to utilise a franchise that was still active and commercially successful.
- The management level project was simply called Operation Mario, in honour of the mascot's original job as a plumber. The question "what would Mario do" was supposedly an in-joke, but no-one actively started stomping on turtles.
- A private online chat room - called FLUDD - was setup in which each project member had a codename; examples included Peach, Bowser and Toad. The chat around plugging leaks was often serious, but some took the chance for a bit of shallow humour to lighten the mood.
- The goal was to identify development, marketing and PR staff that were leaking details and to stop those activities moving forward.
- Those with nieces and cousins active on Twitter were monitored most closely.
- Proof of the cross-Atlantic project's success (or otherwise) will be judged on the status of leaks ahead of E3.
Apparently leakers weren't punished with terminated employment, but their duties have been 'watered down'. One member of the marketing team caught spilling Nintendo Direct scripts was told they'd only be allowed to work on the inevitably disappointing successor to Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash; successfully promoting a game with so little marketable content was considered punishment enough.
We spoke to two sources in total regarding this program for rooting out leakers; when we asked how them leaking about an anti-leaking programme made Operation Mario look, both declined to talk further.
So, has Nintendo plugged all of the leaks, or will secrets burst out of the pipes yet again once E3 gets closer? Time will tell.