More than a month before it is due to launch, several copies of Kingdom Hearts 3have made it into the wild, with screenshots and videos of the game leaking into social media. Kingdom Hearts 3 director Tetsuya Nomura responded via Twitter last night, acknowledging the breach and asking the community not to share any videos or images, and to warn one another of spoilers.
Yesterday, word spread that someone had apparently gotten Xbox One copies of the game from somewhere in its disc-printing or distribution stream, and had shared videos of the game booting up and its main menu as proof to potential buyers.
The material was first shared through a since-deleted Facebook Marketplace listing. That was quickly picked up by YouTubers, intended as a warning to others. The Kingdom Hearts subreddit also swung into action, promising swift post removals and bans for those who post spoilers or participate in their spread.
Last night, Square Enix and director Tetsuyo Nomura formally responded. In a statement, Nomura said the company is investigating the leak and implored fans not to share any videos. He also promised that Kingdom Hearts 3’s epilogue and secret movie will be released to the game after its launch “just in case,” as a precaution against spoiling them.
— KINGDOM HEARTS (@KINGDOMHEARTS) December 16, 2018
“We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release,” Nomura wrote, “so we ask for your continued support on this matter.”
In a widely seen Twitter thread (preserved on imgur), someone who saw the Facebook Marketplace listing and says they know the seller, said someone with a history of illegitimate sales got 30 copies through a connection to the game’s manufacturing and printing, somewhere in North Carolina.
The seller’s real name is evidently known but has not been shared. “It’s a matter of when, not if he will be caught,” they said. Potential buyers were told they had to meet the seller in person, and 10 such transactions were said to have taken place before the listing disappeared around noon yesterday.
The videos were apparently meant as proof of the game’s authenticity more than they were attempts to deliberately spoil its story or developments, although gameplay was said to be shown. (Videos that were redistributed to YouTube have been taken down.) “In a few videos, he can be shown taking the disc out of the Xbox One and reinserting it,” they wrote, “as well as showing the home menu on the console as proof.”
Kingdom Hearts 3 launches Jan. 29, 2019 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (Jan. 25 in Japan). First announced at E3 2013, the crossover RPG has one of video gaming’s most devoted followings. The lore-heavy franchise’s story and character appearances are critical to these fans’ enjoyment.
Multiplying that anticipation is the fact that, over the past 13 years, Square Enix went long stretches between teases and mentions of the game. The last fully numbered game in the series was 2005’s Kingdom Hearts 2, since followed by a dozen spin-offs, remixes and side experiences.
Nomura’s full statement:
We’re aware that a small portion of Kingdom Hearts 3 has been circulating online before its official release. We are also aware as to how this has all happened. We’re sorry to see this caused concern amongst our fans who are excited for the release.
The whole team has been working together since yesterday night (Japan time) to investigate what we can do to better this situation, but first we would like to ask that you do not share these videos.
The game’s epilogue and secret movie, which are the biggest spoilers in this game, are planned to be released at a later date just in case, so they will not be shown before the game’s release.
We want everyone to be able to equally experience the full game after its release, so we ask for your continued support on this matter.
We’re also very grateful that our fans have been warning each other already about the spoilers. Thank you very much.
We’re one month out from the release. Let’s enjoy the game together when it releases on Jan. 29, 2019.
Director Tetsuya Nomura