Well this is a fine way to start the week. Game Politics has a story wherein Epic Games is upset that videos of a pre-release version of Gears of War 3 got leaked and started spreading all over the net like chicken pox in a third grade classroom. In fact, they're so upset that they're keeping track of people who are proliferating the videos and plan to ban them from the game when it is released on September 20th.
When speaking to Edge and Eurogamer in interviews, executive producer Rod Fergusson said:
"We're extremely diligent about getting that stuff taken down and issued a call to fans to not perpetuate it... and just keeping track of those who do. I don't think everybody's aware of the potential repercussions of those types of actions."
"We have a banning system built into our stuff so we can go in and identify certain people," he said. "Some people aren't smart about what they do. They'll be disappointed on 20th September when they can't get in and can't play. They may be banned."
So lemme make sure I've got the facts straight, Epic.
1. Someone within your own studio broke the NDA and leaked a copy of your game to the net
2. Once the game started making the rounds, people began posting videos of the game online
3. These videos got picked up by various other outlets and were reposted all over the net
4. Your response was to ask them to take any and all information down
5. When they didn't, your next course of action is to start tracking these people and ban them from the game when it releases
Epic, I think you need to take a step back and realize who's at fault here: you. You erred in judgment and hired someone who could not be trusted to keep the game a secret, and beyond that you hired someone who would not only leak info about the game, but an actual full version of it. What's more, you didn't put any kind of measures in place to ensure that the work-in-progress version would only work on the dev kits you own and use. The responsibility for all of this happening in the first place rests on your shoulders; you're no newbies to the gaming industry, not some small indie studio who isn't prepared for these kinds of things to take place. You should know better.
As for the people who spread the game, videos, and info, I'll confess I'm not sure where they stand legally. The version of the game was a work-in-progress, so it's not like it was a version that would be sold. It's also unlikely to hurt sales as, again, it's a work-in-progress version and anyone with half a brain knows that games still have a lot of bugs and are not fully representative of the final product even a month before release. The fans who spread informations and videos were not under a non-disclosure agreement, so they can't be held responsible for breaking it. Lastly, as far as I know, no one was charging for information or videos, so no one was making a profit off of your work. That said, these fan sites acquired and disseminated a product that was not theirs to have, so that complicates things.
There's one thing that I think y'all are overlooking, though: these people are your fans! They spread videos and information because they're excited for your game, and when presented with any new bit of info they're eager to share it with the world and spread the enthusiasm. These were acts of adoration, not malice, and your response is to ban these fans from your game? And your rationale can be effectively reduced to, "Well, they spoiled the game"? How petty.
Epic Games, grow a pair and accept responsibility. Should fan sites have acquired a leaked copy of the game and released information and videos without your consent? Of course not, but they did anyways. This leak was your fault and to lash out at your fan base for the fallout of a situation that you allowed to happen is, quite frankly, a dick move. Here's some free advice for you should something like this happen again: learn to spin. When someone releases an unfinished version of your game to the net, own it, apologize for the leak, and then say, "That's just the buggy unfinished version. Wait til you see the real thing!" And now your fans are hungry for more on completely free publicity. You're welcome.