The story so far...
I am sure you are skeptical about the idea of Crytek leaking their own product, especially when dozens of early leaks just like this one have happened before. So, what makes this leak a special case in comparison to the ones that were inflicted upon games such as Call of Duty: Black Ops, Half Life 2, and Killzone 3? Well, let’s begins with the facts.
The leak contains the full game, multiplayer and master key for online authentication. The leak is apparently an older debug build that was supposed to be for eyes only. A few weeks after the initial leak, the word had got around and it went viral with news of it quickly spreading to all the major sites. After the leak went public, the torrents could be found all over the big torrent sites, but the total number of downloads seemed to remain relatively low. Videos of early gameplay began to find their way onto YouTube where one person even posted the first 25 minutes of the game. Soon afterward, EA and Crytek released a statement that said they were “deeply disappointed”. EA then tried their best to clear YouTube of all Crysis 2 leaked videos, as well as torrents of the leak from major sites. Lastly, despite EA’s “greatest” attempts to clear the Internet of leaked material, video sharing sites as well as major torrent sites are now littered with leaked Crysis 2 material that any pirate can get their hands on.
That's pretty much the story as it seems on the surface. But what might hide underneath?
Beneath the surface
It has been stated that the leak was internal, which means that someone within Crytek was the source of the leak. Now, I don’t know too much about the security over at Crytek, but I’m sure that when it comes to a game this big, not to mention a title that EA has invested a lot into, security is probably not too shabby. Given the fact that this build in particular held the online authentication keys it must have been leaked by someone very high up on the Crytek ladder.
The leak of the online authentication codes has additional implications. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems a tiny bit suspicious that all the keys just happened to be leaked along with the game. These keys might be able to be authenticated online, but whether it registers your game as legit or flags your EA account for suspension is yet to be seen. If my suspicions are correct, Crytek would know the codes that were leaked and so tracking down the registrations made with those codes should be child’s play. This could well be the most cunning plot ever devised to root out the pirates who have plagued the PC industry.
Avast ye, scurvy cur!
What this could also be is a simple experiment for Crytek. Crytek knows that the first Crysis was one of the most pirated games ever, and once Crysis 2 is released it may very well surpass the numbers of the first as a cracked version is inevitable. They might have released this leak in order to get a basic estimate of how many people would pirate the final version of Crysis 2 once it’s been released. If this is the true reason then things are looking quite good for Crytek; statistics show that the total number of downloads for the leak have not reached outrageous numbers and many pirates are very hesitant about downloading it. If not that, it could be a simple way to lower the amount of people who do pirate the final version because those that have downloaded this beta may actually buy the game if they enjoyed it.
Of course by saturating the pirate servers with early leaks and booby-trapped registration codes, will make people more wary about trying to find pirated copies of the eventual crack of the final game.
"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist"
There is also of course the good old saying that “any publicity is good publicity.” If that is the case here, it is certainly working as the level of interest towards Crysis 2 continues to rise by leaps and bounds since the announcement of the leak. Those who have never heard of Crysis 2 are certainly hearing about it now. Additionally any doubters of the game are now jumping on board after seeing gameplay videos, or hearing good news about it from pirates who continue to praise what they have played.
Although early gameplay videos and the first torrents of the leak that went up were removed by EA, no action seems to have been taken against recent uploads. Proof of this can be found in the myriad of torrents now clearly up and visible on major torrent sites, and the plentiful supply of gameplay videos that can be found on sites such as YouTube. The most publicly viewed and detailed video thus far has been the first 25 minutes of the game that has recently been released. It seems to me that this is yet another publicity stunt that was meant to go viral. So could EA’s initial attempt at clearing away all leaked content simply have been to erase suspicion? If so, here is one person who hasn’t fallen for it.
In the end it all comes down to what Crytek has to gain from a leak of this magnitude, and it seems to be that Crytek has more than one motivation to perform this kind of stunt.