Two weeks ahead of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’s May 12 release date, the game seems to have already leaked. This isn’t entirely surprising — it’s the biggest game of the year, and people are eager to get a look at it — but Nintendo is likely scrambling to get the footage taken down.
If you’re looking to play Tears of the Kingdom without having it spoiled ahead of the release date, you’ll want to steer clear of social media and Reddit.
It’s become increasingly common to see footage early from major games; Nintendo and The Pokémon Company’s Pokémon Scarlet and Violet was spread online more than a week in advance of its release date in November.
Early on, the footage was mostly screenshots from private livestreams, with several small clips of unseen footage from cutscenes and gameplay. But the game has circulated from there, and there are several livestreams on private Discord servers — others are attempting to stream live on Twitch and very quickly getting taken down. Of note, these streams have shown how Tears of the Kingdom opens as well as early gameplay and regions.
Nintendo is well-known for dropping DMCA complaints and lawsuits without abandon. Naturally, new copypasta has emerged from Discord and Twitch streams looking to preempt Nintendo’s legal team:
In case of an investigation by any federal entity or similar, I do not have any involvement with this group or with the people in it, I do not know how I am here, probably added by a third party, I do not support any actions by members of this group
The fears of Nintendo’s lawyers is not unfounded. It’s taken action against leakers and hackers, in the past, as recently as this year. A Tears of the Kingdom art book — available with the collector’s edition of the game — leaked in April and was spread online, and Nintendo took quick action on that. Nintendo is looking to sue the leaker, but first, it needs to figure out who did it. Nintendo subpoenaed Discord for the identity of the leaker, and that legal process is ongoing.
When images from Pokémon Sword and Shield leaked via an unreleased strategy guide, The Pokémon Company also took quick action to handle the leakers. A lawsuit was filed in 2019 and settled in 2021, with each defendant forced to pay The Pokémon Company $150,000 in damages and attorney’s fees.
Update: This story has been updated to include new information as the leaks spread.