There are two kinds of leaks when it comes to Fortnite. There’s the kind of stuff that’s datamined in the game files, new skins, new items and such, which is fair game for anyone who is good enough at snooping for that kind of info.
And then there’s a different kind. Flat-out inside information, which is what we saw at the end of season 3.
I didn’t actually know the whole story behind this until now, but it reveals that we almost certainly are not going to see a detailed, accurate leak about the contents of season 5 in Fortnite, or else the leaker may risk severe legal action.
Near the end of season 3, a redditor posted a few leaks that suggested that the comet was going to hit Dusty Depot, not Tilted Towers, the theme of season 4 was actually superheroes, not aliens or dinosaurs which many were predicting, and that Epic wanted to mix things up by altering the map on a weekly basis, not just in huge updates once a season.
As we know now, literally all of this came to pass. How did this person have such accurate information? Because they got it directly from a Fortnite QA tester, one that Epic is now suing for damages.
The tester, Thomas Hannah, told a third party, who is not being sued, information about the upcoming season 4. That third party is the person who posted the information on reddit in a now-deleted post with a now-deleted account, but that isn’t who Epic is coming after.
Hannah has recently posted a defense saying that he simply had a casual conversation with this other person, and told them the info with no indication they were planning on sharing it with the wider world. While he definitely broke his NDA by telling that person, that usually does not end with millions of people knowing the information, and his defense is that he had no idea this would happen.
Epic, meanwhile, doesn’t care, and are saying that the company “has suffered and is continuing to suffer irreparable injury” as a result of the leak. Hannah’s lawyers are trying to get the claims for damages and legal fees tossed.
It’s hard to know what to make of the legal aspects of this. The guy under the NDA broke it, clearly, but given that he wasn’t the person to post it online, I’m not sure if he deserves the hammer of Thor coming down on him like this. I also don’t really know how Epic can prove that it has suffered “irreparable injury” because of the season 5 leak. How exactly did the reveal of the comet strike location and the superhero theme cost them money or mortally wound them? Sure, it was a bit of a bummer to have a surprise ruined, but Fortnite revenues continue to skyrocket, and season 4 has been the most popular and profitable season yet, even if this leak was widely read and turned out to be accurate.
I suppose Epic wants to make an example out of Hannah to avoid anything like this happening again. And regardless of the end result, I imagine it’s going to work. Datamining is one thing, but if you have actual inside info and are under and NDA, you would probably think twice before leaking, lest you incur the wrath of a company that’s now earning $300 million a month from the game you’re spilling secrets about.
As such, I would be amazed if we saw any kind of ultra-detailed, accurate leak about what’s going to happen for season 5. Here in week 8, we haven’t seen anything like this yet. The best we’ve got are guesses about when the rocket is going to launch, but that’s about it.
This is fine with me, as I’d rather things be a surprise, but I do feel for the poor guy who presumably told a buddy about some things and now is being crucified by a huge company because that person wasn’t trustworthy and wanted some attention on reddit.
We’ll see how both the current lawsuit and season 5 itself shake out. Until then, take any leaks with a grain of salt, as you know what that leaker will be risking if it turns out to be accurate.