According to recent reports from Variety, Kotaku, and Gamasutra, British technology website TrustedReviews has pulled a February article that published leaked information about Rockstar Games’s Red Dead Redemption 2 eight months prior to its release and has donated about $1.3 million US to charity in compensation.
In an apology issued to Rockstar’s parent company Take-Two Interactive, TrustedReviews writes, “On February 6, 2018, we published an article that was sourced from a confidential corporate document. We should have known this information was confidential and should not have published it. We unreservedly apologise to Take-Two Games and we have undertaken not to repeat such actions again. We have also agreed to donate over £1 million to charities chosen by Take-Two Games.”
According to Variety, neither company responded to questions regarding whether the site broke any laws in acquiring the leaked information, though Take-Two did issue the following statement – and threat:
“Take-Two takes security seriously and will take legal action against people or publications who leak confidential information. Because this situation involved information about Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games directed the settlement funds to these three great charities: the American Indian College Fund, the American Prairie Reserve, and the First Nations Development Institute.”
Our readers will surely be aware that journalists are generally under no legal obligation to suppress leaked material on behalf of corporations unless they have agreed to some form of NDA themselves. The lack of information provided in this case (for example, whether TrustedReviews came by the “confidential” material legally under British law) makes it difficult to draw conclusions, but it’s not hard to see that Take-Two’s clear threat to sue video game outlets, most of whom do not have a million bucks to defend themselves against a $13B company whether or not they are in the wrong, could have a “chilling effect” on the industry.