Things and stuff and things.
Published on September 29, 2022 By Tatiora In Stardock Blog

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I breathed a collective sigh of relief as we finally got to share some news we’d all had to keep quiet for entirely too long: Sins of a Solar Empire II is finally happening.

While I am no stranger to NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) at this point, this particular secret had a weight unlike anything else I’ve ever carried in my 7 years here at Stardock. This was big. This was huge. This was something we truly wanted to be a special surprise with a deserving reveal.

I found myself musing about all of this in the wake of some recent major leaks in the gaming industry. We work with lots of press outlets and game streamers and although all of them are required to sign NDAs and agree to embargos, there’s a great deal of trust that goes into that kind of outreach.

We have been very fortunate in that - at least, since I’ve been here - we haven’t experienced any major breaches in trust. If you haven’t read about it already, a twitter account called TheRealInsider was posing as a gaming industry insider and leaked information about Ubisoft’s 2022 gaming showcase prior to the show. Turns out, the account holder was a YouTuber who had been trusted with embargoed information and chose to share it out of turn.

Dan Allen Gaming has (had?) 189k subscribers on his YouTube channel and was known for a variety of guides and games. He accidentally revealed himself as TheRealInsider when he responded to a question on Twitter using his main account. Things spiraled pretty quickly after that.

Allen later posted an apology, but the damage had already been done. To be honest, the statement from Ubisoft on the situation really sums up how I - and many others in my industry who work hard on our art - feel on the matter of leaks:

“We regularly provide access and information on our games under NDA to trusted partners. When that trust is compromised, or information is leaked by an individual, it’s not only damaging and demoralizing to our teams, but it takes away from an exciting reveal moment and experience for our players. While we won’t speak on an individual case, we do take these matters seriously and will manage accordingly.”  

It’s true that, in the grand scheme of things, leaks don’t always hurt much. Sometimes they can misrepresent a game when images or video are leaked in too early a stage of development - like early footage of Diablo IV being released before Blizzard was ready - sure, but that’s not really the point. The point here is that it IS demoralizing to the teams who worked on the game, and can really take away from some cool reveal moments for the players.

It’s easy to forget just how much goes into making a game and preparing it for release. I think it’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, the creators behind these games are people. The marketing teams are people. Betraying the trust of people who are willing to share their art and hard work with you is going to affect a lot of individuals.

Again, we’re lucky that we were able to make our announcement for Sins II with the amount of fanfare and surprise that we wanted. Now that it’s out in the open, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and focus on sharing in the excitement with our fans.

Hope you’re all as excited for Sins of a Solar Empire II as I am! In the meantime, game on. See you next time!

on Sep 29, 2022

Sins fans would have loved knowing that the game was under development.  I had settled into an "I'll believe it when I see it," mindset, but it's all good.  Maintaining secrecy may be tough, but two of the extremely difficult and crucial tasks still await.  The game needs to have excellent game play and polish and then you have to figure out how to market it to people who have never heard of Sins of a Solar Empire or don't know much about it, especially to fans of other 4X (Civilization, Stellaris) and RTS (Starcraft, Age of Empires, Total War, Warhammer, Supreme Commander) games.

on Sep 30, 2022

Mate of mine for several series was the Lighting Director for the US Survivor series, and as such was privy to all sorts of  things, not the least "who won", actually knowing where the next series would be shot...because he was part of the selection process.

As you do, as a mate of his for over half a century I'd ask "Who won' to which he'd quote an odd number [until I did the math] ....turns out to be an NDA with a penalty of 5 Million USD [yes, that's 'Million'] if he were to reveal confidence.

Meanwhile, in a Galaxy far, far away....on an 'internal' Stardock channel that I'd been on for about 3 years then....someone asked "Hey, Jafo ....have you signed an NDA?" - to which I replied "Nope."  That was soon rectified...

It's really pretty straight forward re 'abuse of position' and necessary privacy....and as in any Industry there is a need for privacy to be protected/respected...

on Oct 31, 2022

As you do, as a mate of his for over half a century I'd ask "Who won' to which he'd quote an odd number [until I did the math] ....turns out to be an NDA with a penalty of 5 Million USD [yes, that's 'Million'] if he were to reveal confidence.

That may be the solution to these kinds of leaks. Hefty fines attached to an NDA would certainly make people think twice about revealing such information. ($5M may be a little high, but it does make the point!)