Thursday, May 6, 2010

Friends and Family Alpha: Not-so-secret anymore.

Early this morning one of the main WoW-news websites started posting a massive amount of screenshots and spell data onto their front page. A number of surprised individuals flocked to the official forums to inquire as to whether or not the NDA is still in effect--it is.

What I've gleaned so far is that the Alpha client was leaked on our glorious interwebs and news sites, your neighbor down the street, and that kid over there with his finger up his nose could all download the client for datamining and not be held to the NDA. This is exactly what they did.

The question is, "Whose heads are going to roll?" NDA is still in effect and folks discussing the leaked information on the official forums have had threads locked, deleted, and received swift justice of the ban-hammer (and I do mean swift; threads were being locked a few minutes after posting, which is quick for forums of this size).

The main site posting these leaks is in an interesting position. The main news-feeder received an Alpha invite himself and is under the NDA. However, the data he obtained is from the leaked Alpha client (as can be seen from the lack of people in any of the screenshots). By using the leaked Alpha client as the source for his information, is he clear of the NDA?

My understanding is that, even if he doesn't fall under the purview of the NDA, Blizzard can issue a cease-and-desist order as well as sue for losses. The forums have been debating whether or not Blizzard is likely to pursue this course and many folks are of the opinion that 'no publicity is bad publicity'. However, the site in question has likely received a large influx of visitors (to the point that the server has been taking a huge beating) which means a greater probability of ad-hits and thus revenue. Blizzard has their own ads on their front page, selling t-shirts and those new personalized figurines; how much revenue would they have made if they had been the ones to release the information? Sounds like losses to me.

I'm curious what the devs think about this situation. Are the upset that their work was released prematurely? Are they thrilled that people are seeing their hard work rather than watching it rot in a closet for a few more weeks/months? Are they apathetic as their zombified minds try to crank out the content that isn't finished yet?

I'm going to admit, I peeked. Not at much, but I saw a few screenshots and looked at a few spell links. The stuff is looking good--some if it actually sent chills down my spine.

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