Update: The offending website has also issued its own statement. We've shared that below our original article.
Original Article (Tue 11th Feb, 2020 09:45 GMT): Building up to the release of Pokémon Sword and Shield last year, certain elements of the game including Pokémon which hadn't yet been revealed were leaked online. Images and information spread like wildfire, and it was painfully easy to accidentally stumble across unreleased content ahead of the games' launch.
Back in November, it was rumoured that Nintendo may have caught the person(s) responsible for the leak, and in the following month, we learnt that The Pokémon Company was taking legal action by filing a lawsuit.
Today, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have shared a joint statement on the matter. You can read it in full below:
Joint statement from Nintendo and The Pokémon Company
In early November, Nintendo identified a number of photographs taken from game play that revealed multiple new and unannounced Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. These photographs had been posted online and Nintendo, together with The Pokémon Company, quickly identified the person responsible for these leaks, and took immediate action.
These Pokémon were leaked by a reviewer for the Portuguese website FNintendo, who had received an early copy of the game for review purposes. Both he and FNintendo failed to handle confidential material, resulting in a clear breach of the confidentiality agreement between Nintendo and the media outlet. As a result, Nintendo will no longer work with FNintendo.
Nintendo will always protect its intellectual property and brands. Leaks hurt not just Nintendo, but the thousands of employees who work hard to bring games to market, and the millions of fans around the world who look forward to news and surprises.
To surprise and delight players through new experiences is a shared passion for Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. We will pursue all avenues to preserve surprises for players of future Pokémon titles.
Of course, the leaks didn't seem to harm Pokémon Sword and Shield's success in the end. The two titles shifted an amazing 16 million copies in around six weeks.
Update: FNintendo's statement:
To our readers,
At the beginning of November, a series of off-screen photographs leaked multiple new and unannounced Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. We want to take this opportunity to openly admit to our readers that FNintendo was responsible for leaking some of these photos.
Nintendo offered us a copy of the game for review purposes, with clear embargo guidelines, to which we agreed. This copy was then sent to one of our reviewers, who leaked the information. Following the investigation, FNintendo severed its relationship with this reviewer.
Our relationship with Nintendo Portugal dates back 11 years, but our part in this leak is a clear breach of the confidentiality agreement between us, and, as a result, a total breach of trust with Nintendo. We recognise it is impermissible to break embargo guidelines and we failed to handle the review materials with sufficient care.
We fully respect Nintendo's decision to cancel the confidentiality agreement between our companies as a result of this breach of trust, and accept that we will no longer receive products from Nintendo, nor will we be invited to attend their events.
We want to apologise to Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, and to our readers for letting them down.
Ok, even tho I hate The Pokemon Company and their witch hunt, this is such an interesting turn of events. See, I'm portuguese, and I hate FNintendo and their staff xD
The guy must he fired now at his work. I know I would.
If you leak, use a fake alias, a VPN, do not give personal info and also if you make photo’s do it on a white background that seems like any plain white surface like a table or something.
And if you leak you should also know the consequences and be prepared to face them.
FNintendo? That sounds like it could be rudely interpreted...
FNintendo? More like FUNintendo.
@AlexOlney tell us how to write a one letter comment please.
The sales being great don't take away from this being a rotten thing to do. This spoiler culture we live in is toxic.
Its ok, I understand and Nintendo is in the right. Now... Nintendo and Game Freak.... please make a better game. Sword and Shield was an embarrassment.
Ohhh and Pokemon Company... stop being greedy AF.
Also... everyone losing their jobs and company over a single irresponsible employee? That’s messed up! Oh well....
@The_BAAD_Man Rotten thing to do? Nintendo provided an advance copy with the agreement that nothing is published until the agreed upon date. This is a breach of contract plain and simple.
FNintendo can F off
To surprise and delight players through >new< experiences
l m a o
@RazumikhinPG Get a third in a linguistics degree whilst writing for NL voluntarily and prioritising that aspect of your life over your studies. Waltz into a newly open but not publicly available job listing and make some retrospectively embarrassingly basic videos about Nintendo-related topics.
@fafonio Not relevant to the topic.
That said, no one at the site is losing their jobs besides the person who leaked the assets. But losing their connections with Nintendo Portugal, not getting review copies of their games, and not being invited to any local events is gonna hurt them.
@AlexOlney if only all jobs were so easy to get into!
@Ooccoo_Jr Whilst I don’t disagree that this is a flagrant breach of contract and Nintendo are entirely within their right to pursue legal action, I’m always suspicious of enforced media embargoes like this as it often implies they’re worried about negative reviews leading to reduced pre-orders - I.e. the product isn’t up to scratch and they’re covering it up.
If the game’s great, wouldn’t you want glowing reviews out there as early as possible to help build the hype and generate pre-orders?
@RazumikhinPG relax man no need to have so much hatred in life at least not for some random companies.
Ps dont hate me now haha
@Mince They're a portuguese Nintendo focused website/forum. I used to participate in the forum a lot, in the past, and the admins are just awful people. Glad this happened to them.
@AlexOlney You say that as if it's hard!
@gaga64 I think its more they know they have made a great game and want it to not be spoilt. People would start reporting of someones prerelease comments and lies/misinformation etc spread, just like this leask caused .
It had review embargo for after release but was met with 9/10 across the board (excluding adult with dumb expectations for a child's game)
So it must be more to keep everything secret until release day?
The real problem here is to lose a job over leaking >pokemon sword and shield<.
If it was BotW2, I'd understand.
@RazumikhinPG ah right, kind of makes sense considering their reviewer breached the rules and leaked the game. Just generally not a nice team of people then.
@SCAssassin a site called FNintendo at odds with Nintendo..... I’ll be the first to give them 6 months until they let their employees go or they start finding something else.
@Ooccoo_Jr i see and like what you did there
@Ooccoo_Jr did you ever consider the possibility fnintendo do not know the review was going to leak the game?
@RazumikhinPG funny that I am also Portuguese and I never heard about them until now (p.s: PT crl!)
@fafonio they can still get review code for developers and publisher for all third party switch games.
Plus if they have a wealthy investor they can still buy review copies at release and publish later, nintendoLife don't have many review I want for example
They might be out of business in 6month but you don't actually know that it just your opinion and my opinion is you didn't think about every factor
@gaga64 You're mixing move reviews & game reviews. Movie reviews can be written & posted on the day the critic is invited to see the film.. therefore an embargoe can only happen a few days before release. In this case an embargoe usually is a bad sign.
For a game however a website or critic will generally need to complete the game before release so can get a copy up to a year in advance.. an embargoe is necessary so the whole game, cutscenes, plots, everything is not ruined for months in advance.
I agree fnintendo broke contract and the punishment is fair. But how do these leaks actually hurt anyone?
Just read the update, good of them to admit fault and publicly apologise. This is going to hurt them financially, and ultimately it'll be the folks working there who had nothing to do with the leak that will suffer for it so hopefully they can get back in Nintendo's good books at some point.
@RazumikhinPG So you hate everything
@AlexOlney makes notes
@jobvd that is obviously the most logical conclusion, young man.
Doesn't really matter whether it's to hide game flaws or to have surprises for everybody. If they breach a contract, Nintendo can certainly (and if I may say, ought to) take legal actions for compensation. To breach such a contract in the name of freedom or whatever the person thought is just plain stupid since THEY signed the contract
Its one thing for an individual to leak some information, but a gaming site.
@gaga64 If the embargo is on or after release day, then I am inclined to agree. Most embargoes however simply serve the dual purpose of ensuring firstly there is no race to be 'first' with the review (and thus the potential for poor quality reviews without a decent playthrough) and a way of reducing chances of spoilers for players.
Nintendo are typically pretty generous with their embargoes, having them lift a week or even longer in advance of release date.
Play silly games, win silly prizes.
Worked on FNintendo for three weeks a life time ago and it simply wasn't for me. Very sad to see this happen though, not the kind of word of mouth I like to have for my country or fellow countrymen.
@RazumikhinPG Their "witch hunt" you get review copies fully acknowledging you're not going to do this... What do you not understand about this? You've probably never reviewed a game in your life and you think it's OK to do this kind of garbage for 10 seconds of internet fame... NOONE remembers the guy that leaked this, he's irrelevant and now he's out of a job and he ruined his employer chances on top of that to ever review another pokemon game... GG children
Serves 'em right. There will be the usual bunch of people trying to defend leakers but not only do leaks suck, they are breaking legal contracts. It's that simple. Hopefully this will serve as a cautionary example in the future.
They found the leaker, and it was a gaming site?? Yikes...
@vyseofhr okay, that makes sense, cheers.
I’m glad Nintendo did this. Personally I dislike all the leakers & data miners. Hopefully this sends a message. It’s rather annoying to have to actively dodge leaks. I felt like I almost had to stop going online completely the month before the game released to avoid it getting spoiled.
If people really think you can just break the conditions of a contract, good luck in your future jobs.
@Rika_Yoshitake I've written a lot of reviews, in fact. I used to run a anime/video game website before you were even born. Have written reviews for other websites too. So please go flush your toilet.
TPC's witch hunt is still annoying because fans absolutely needed more information about these games before release, crucial information even, and look at the sales, the leak didn't even slightly affect them. It's obviously expected of reviewers to NOT leak anything, and sure, they can go ahead and "teach them a lesson", but we're talking about a massive multi-billion-dollar corporation who, again, didn't have any negative impact (profit-wise), so I'm not going to shed a tear for them and it all just sounds a bit petty.
Good I hate leakers
@RazumikhinPG I'm just curious as to what crucial information fans needed about the games that, in any degree, justifies the leak?
@UmbreonsPapa I honestly can't remember all details now, this happened in October/November and I've had more important things happen in my life since then. I do remember one of the main things was knowing which fan favorite pokemon got the cut, details about mechanics and also the infamous "high quality animations" that were, actually, not "high quality".
I know it helped me decide not to buy these crappy games (along with post-release youtube analysis).
@RazumikhinPG I think maybe our media and government constantly misuses the word witch hunt, and this has confused people as to what it means, but you know a witch hunt is a turn of phrase meant to describe when someone either makes up charges or searches for charges in order to acuse an innocent party, right?
When the party is guilty, it isn't a witch hunt. That is just good old fashioned justice.
@gaga64 I agree with you there, at least when the embargo date is the day of release, because that just smacks of cheating the consumer, knowing that they will pay money before knowing whether the game is any good or not. Thankfully though Nintendo have always been really good about setting the embargo date a good few days before release, so it isn't a problem. In fact embargoes can be a good thing - they eliminate the online race to get a review up first, meaning that reviewers can take their time to fully experience a game, knowing that they are not going to be beaten to the punch by a less scrupulous site.
@AlexOlney * Takes notes furiously *
Why would Nintendo have ANY agreements with a site named “FNintendo”. It’s in the name! 🤦♂️ 😂
@RazumikhinPG sounds like your judgement on this issue is clouded by your personal opinion of Pokémon.
@RazumikhinPG Again, no. Looking for a guilty party who did something, and then finding the guilty party who acknowledges guilt on their own--not a witch hunt. That is just plain ol' catching someone red handed.
As to whether or not it is a big deal--no, it isn't the end of the world that a leak happened. Does Nintendo, as a business, want to control that messaging? Yes, they do, and it is every bit their right.
Also, Nintendo IS pretty careful with its review copies as you have to reach a certain point with traffic to even be considered. Then, to get a review copy you have to sign a legally binding NDA. This website knew what it was doing was wrong, did it anyway, and are paying the price. End of story.
"Of course, the leaks didn't seem to harm Pokémon Sword and Shield's success in the end. The two titles shifted an amazing 16 million copies in around six weeks."
Since nobody knows how well the game would have done without the leaks, we have no idea whether it harmed its success or not.
The letter issued by FNintendo sounds like it was redacted by Nintendo...
@MailOrderNinja it's a witch hunt because it's extreme: Nintendo have been very public about the pursuit of the culprit. Witch hunt has nothing to do with innocence, it has to do with intimidation. When you make the pursuit public the effect is to scare people: think Liam Neeson's "I will find you and I will kill you".
"Also, Nintendo IS pretty careful with its review copies as you have to reach a certain point with traffic to even be considered. Then, to get a review copy you have to sign a legally binding NDA. "
Uh, how does traffic volume equate with trust? The Daily Mail has a lot of traffic and they're the first ones to ignore the rules (mainly because they know they'll profit a lot even with lawsuits thrown at them). Signing a legally binding NDA also can only do so little. A signature doesn't stop anyone from leaking stuff.
On the other hand, sending a review copy with limited content, does.
@Strumpan "Since nobody knows how well the game would have done without the leaks, we have no idea whether it harmed its success or not."
You can compare it with other games sold at the same time: they were all crushed. So it was successful. So the success was not harmed.
@Ooccoo_Jr i agree even with sword and shield having some flaws doesnt give the right for this reviewer to break the agreement by leaking this stuff to the gaming community so the punishment he gets is well deserved.
I wouldn't mess with a company that owns Charizard. Have we forgotten Game of Thrones already?
@RazumikhinPG dude your just repeating yourself its not a witch hunt that reviewer broke the contract agreement so him getting canned was his own fault.
@RiasGremory I believe you don't know what a witch hunt is, that's ok.
Thanks for saving me $60, leaker.
@RazumikhinPG While I've been vocal about the games perceived or actual shortcomings, that's info that a consumer could have easily waited for after release or for an actual review to make an informed decision. Doesn't necessitate or justify a leak. At least not one of this magnitude.
And while you don't think it was that serious enough for Nintendo or The Pokémon Company to take action, can you think about what kind of precedence this sets if they don't hold a partner that has agreed to a contract with them accountable if they breach that contract?
I'll just add that the idea that going back on your word is in any way okay, regardless of it's perceived importance in the grand scheme of things, is a bit concerning.
Glad Nintendo caught the offending party.
@RazumikhinPG No, the fact that it sold well does not mean that it wouldn't have sold better without the leaks. And there is also the possibility that the leaks improved the success. Again, there is no way of telling.
@UmbreonsPapa Doesn't necessitate a leak. It necessitated TPC to have released that info themselves. They didn't, fans wanted to know, that lead to the leak.
Going back on your word is not ok, but sugar pie, that's the world we live in and TPC aren't that innocent and gullible. They absolutely know they could have done more to prevent it, if they absolutely really cared.
Again, Nintendo can hold a partner accountable, but they don't have to make the "hunt" public neither do they have to have this sensationalism going on. There's a lot of lawsuits that the public has no knowledge of. Public shaming is very harsh, they could have simply cut ties with the offending party.
@Strumpan There is a way of knowing the game was a success tho.
Nintendo ninja's got em
@RazumikhinPG the reason why they held this public to assure any leakers out there that leaking stuff can either lead to your firing or face serious legal action plus not everyone in the gaming community wants to have things ruining for them like with the smash leaks which got really annoying and these leakers needs to face harsh punishment for doing this crap.
This still seems like a distraction from fast DLC/NatDex. But yeah, it tracks like a normal leak.
the real question is who leaked all of the content and HD assets out of the game before release
Before the Switch dropped this department was based in Richmond Upon Thames and i worked in the building with many Nintendo employees.
Some spoke but nobody would leak info online because we knew the hassle involved.
Not sure why these people would be so stupid but there ya go
@RiasGremory clearly it's not going to stop anyone from doing it again. They'll just make sure they get better at leaking and hiding their tracks.
If they were more forthcoming with information on the game there would be less need for leaks. The fact that without the leaks you were not going to be able to see the final evolutions for your starters even was pretty ridiculous since most of us want to know what it will look like when making a decision on your starter.
Yes, at least in English "FNintendo" doesn't sound like a website would want to support.
I don't know why there is such hostility towards leaks from the users here. They breached their contract with Nintendo, and they have to suffer the consequences for that. But that is between them and Nintendo. As someone standing outside that relation, I welcome all leaks. The more information I get upfront, the better. I understand that people dislike spoilers, but I've never been spoiled by a leak in my entire life, and most likely never will be.
In traditional, non-gaming media, leakers, whistleblowers and anonymous sources are essential in informing our daily news, and are an important component of news organisations. I don't care how the information was about obtained, even if illegal practices were used (for example, hacking). All that matters to me is if the information is accurate.
Kind of feel bad for the site if this reviewer just went rouge and they've taken the fall. But if they willingly published the photos on their site or didn't have a means to check what the reviewer was publishing, they share a part of the blame. At the end of the day you have an embargo agreement and you don't break it lest you face the consequences. This reviewer will find it difficult to get another job in the industry now because no one will trust them.
All the small minded haters in the comment section... Not sure if it's sad or funny that they are still whining about the same crap and would rather call for wrecking the industry than just moving on with their lives.
These ignorant people have no idea how much damage it would do if more and more reviewers did this sort of thing. They can't see beyond their entitlement to understand how many people around the world would lose their jobs, how many outlets would have to shut down and how going forward they'd get no more honest opinions about games before launch. Instead you'd only have "reviews" paid for by the companies themselves because they would not be able to trust anyone not to just dump the whole game online weeks ahead of time.
If you sign a contract and break that contract, you get punished and rightly so! If people can just break contracts without consequence than there is no purpose for contracts in the first place and people will just start screwing each other over left and right.
But sure, go ahead and whine about how one change in one game that you don't agree with means reviewers should just always break contracts, and see where that leads.
I don't know anything about FNintendo, but I'll assume that there are some decent people working there that had nothing to do with this that are dealing with the collateral. Hope for the best for them, and I'm not particularly sad about the rotten apple that spoiled the bunch.
I'm more hoping that this kind of thing discourages leaking in the future. Beyond broken NDA's, it becomes obnoxious to sift through the internet while constantly dodging spoilers. I like to be surprised when I want a game, whether or not someone wants clicks. Nowadays, leaks are more just a dirge of information with the occasional correct guess, but it's still obnoxious.
If this was a Cyberpunk 2077 leak, the journalist would've gained a hate mob rather quickly, as it would be seen as a sin against CDProjekt Red (which did happen at E3 2018), but because its Sword and Shield, its completely justified.
It's quite hypocritical and this is coming from someone who hasn't played Pokémon S&S and isn't interested in ever buying it.
I was surprised but definitely not delighted to see the PC and Nintendo weren't holding out on over half the pokemon to work hard on pushing the game into 30 fps territory but were just holding out to sell them seperately at a later date. Really, really dirty move. I knew Nintendo getting headed by a marketing...person was bad news, and between the mobile subscriptions and this I feel proven right. Blech.
@Djip Except their not selling the remaining Pokemon to you. You can still import them legitimately from Pokemon Home (for FREE) if you already caught them on the 3DS, DS, GBA or Pokemon Go and Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee. Or get them through trades through other players who own the DLC in Pokemon Sword/Sheild. You just won't be able to catch them as they will be in the Isle of Armour and Crown Tundra.
This is not new at all, as to get every Pokemon in a game previously in a single game you needed Pokemon Bank, the previous games (specifically B&W or B&W2) or a friend who already has the Pokemon and wants to trade them to you. This was the case even as recently as X&Y, OR&AS and U/S&M. If anything a simple $30 and you get the DLC access to catch these Pokemon is far better than having to hunt down a copy of the previous games if you just got back into the franchise after a long break (like me who has not finished a Pokemon game since Pokemon Diamond, but did play X&Y but could not get his Pokemon from Diamond because I did not own Black and White).
Call me an old-timer, but I remember when I had to abandon my Pokemon from Blue, Yellow and Silver when I had to make the jump to Ruby. There was no fancy Pokemon Bank/Home at that time, those Pokemon are gone for good and I was quite upset when I found that out! That and if I wanted to get all the Pokemon in my copy of Ruby and Fire Red, I had to get the GCN games for $60 a pop and a Gameboy Advance Link Cable which was not cheap (plus a GameCube! If that was not already implied in my previous statement)... and this was during the Iwata-era so Pokemon has always been like this and this is actually an improvement compared to when I was a kid and obsessed with Pokemon.
Whaaat, I did not know I could trade them from my 3DS for free. That changes things. Maaaybe I'll get the DLC now, but I'll wait for more info first.
Still not happy about getting told they were making the game look pretty when it looks like a poor man's Breath of the Wild, though (or FEH pass).
But I too remember when a boy could rise prodigiously in school-yard prestige by owning a link cable. Some things are indeed better but I'm a bleak man and I'll believe an upwards spiral when I see one.
Thanks for the thoughtful answer.
Pretty low of Nintendo to publicly shame the site that may have or may not have been aware of their employer leaking.
Just handle that stuff in court.
@gaga64 It doesn't work like that. "Quality" is a subjective measure and is irrelevant to the objective fact that they signed a non-disclosure agreement, violated it, and got burned as a direct result. It could be the greatest game in the world, and it still would not have changed their liability.
@Narrator1 I never said they did. Nintendo are 100% correct to penalise breach of contract. My point was that the existence of NDAs makes me worry that Nintendo are hiding a poor quality game. However other commenters on here have set me right by pointing out that large AAA video games need to be sent for review a looooong time before release, so the press embargoe is about preventing secret details leaking and about making sure reviewers take their time and don’t rush through a game in order to get the first review out by enforcing a level playing field.
Which makes sense.
@Ooccoo_Jr I know, I wasn't defending the ones who breached their contract. You misunderstood my comment.
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