Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have identified a reviewer for FNintendo as the culprit behind the pre-launch Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield leaks.
In the weeks before the Galar region adventures were set to release at retail, photographs surfaced online that had revealed unannounced Pokémon that had otherwise remained shrouded in secrecy.
It had been hoped that those Pokémon could be saved as surprises for when everyone experienced the game for themselves, but the leaks prevented that from happening for many.
In their joint statement, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company explain:
“In early November, Nintendo identified a number of photographs taken from game play that revealed multiple new and unannounced Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield.
“These photographs had been posted online and Nintendo, together with The Pokémon Company, quickly identified the person responsible for these leaks, and took immediate action.
“These Pokémon were leaked by a reviewer for the Portuguese website FNintendo, who had received an early copy of the game for review purposes.
“Both he and FNintendo failed to handle confidential material, resulting in a clear breach of the confidentiality agreement between Nintendo and the media outlet. As a result, Nintendo will no longer work with FNintendo.
“Nintendo will always protect its intellectual property and brands. Leaks hurt not just Nintendo, but the thousands of employees who work hard to bring games to market, and the millions of fans around the world who look forward to news and surprises.
“To surprise and delight players through new experiences is a shared passion for Nintendo and The Pokémon Company. We will pursue all avenues to preserve surprises for players of future Pokémon titles.”
FNintendo accompanied this with their own statement, admitting the mistake and explaining that the website has since “severed its relationship” with the reviewer that was responsible:
“At the beginning of November, a series of off-screen photographs leaked multiple new and unannounced Pokémon from Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. We want to take this opportunity to openly admit to our readers that FNintendo was responsible for leaking some of these photos.
“Nintendo offered us a copy of the game for review purposes, with clear embargo guidelines, to which we agreed. This copy was then sent to one of our reviewers, who leaked the information. Following the investigation, FNintendo severed its relationship with this reviewer.
“Our relationship with Nintendo Portugal dates back 11 years, but our part in this leak is a clear breach of the confidentiality agreement between us, and, as a result, a total breach of trust with Nintendo.
“We recognise it is impermissible to break embargo guidelines and we failed to handle the review materials with sufficient care. We fully respect Nintendo’s decision to cancel the confidentiality agreement between our companies as a result of this breach of trust, and accept that we will no longer receive products from Nintendo, nor will we be invited to attend their events.
“We want to apologise to Nintendo and The Pokémon Company, and to our readers for letting them down.”
Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield are now available exclusively for Nintendo Switch worldwide.