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An Intro to “Leak Busting”

Leak busting

Some of the readers of Source Gaming are probably aware of this, but I started Source Gaming out of the depths of the leaks group on SmashBoards, headed by BluePikmin11. Most of my original posts on Source Gaming were simply reposts of stuff I had already posted within the group. A while back, the group got simply too big (over 2,000+ members), and was achieved by the administrators. The group is largely still active — a bit under a different area of the forum, the NintenZone. I was recently made a moderator to help manage the area as I’ve become so familiar with the users and the rules of SmashBoards. Over the course of the year and some months that I’ve been active in the leak and rumor community I have learned a thing or two about fake leaks. The reason I’m writing this post today is to help pass on some knowledge about leak busting.


One of my favorite “leaks”. Created by jacob_ebooks on Twitter! Check him out!

There is a big difference between “rumors” and “leaks”. “Rumors” are told by people, and contain information that is not readily known, nor provable. “Leaks” are documents, images, movies, etc that include information. Essentially, text posts are “rumors”. Media posts are “leaks”. Let’s not confuse the two anymore.

Text rumors are almost always false. Without anything to back them up, we really shouldn’t waste a lot of time trying to prove them, or debating their legitimacy. 4chan text rumors belong in the garbage. Most of them are not even properly research and can be “debunked” using logic. And on the rare occasion in which they are accurate – or simply contain accurate information – it is only after they’ve been corroborated with actual evidence. Correlation does not equal causation, and the actual “rumor” may still be false. Also, in my experience if it sounds like a wishlist it’s because it’s a wishlist. 2015-09-04 23-41-33

ssb4dojo has a list of rumors/leaks concerning Smash for Wii U/3DS!

Rumors are only credible when they have a source attached to them! These kinds of rumors are also difficult to prove without collaborating sources. Of course, the issue with trying to get collaborating sources or additional information from the source, is that you need to find other information that isn’t public yet. ‘Sources’ that repeat already known information might not be sources. Let me give you an example.

I’ve had a couple of instances of people claiming to have insider information about the development of Smash Brothers. However, in both cases, they repeated information that I had already posted on Source Gaming. Removing all the information that was publicly known, I was able to discredit their rumors using information, that at the time– was not translated into English. It’s also worth noting that in both of those instances, they were unable to prove their legitimacy/ their sources legitimacy. If they could actually prove their connection to the development team, then I would have taken them more seriously. In both cases, it ended up being a private 4chan text rumor.

In addition, we need to be careful about bias and motive. Most people generally don’t leak information. If they did, then we would know a lot more. People choose to leak information for some reason. Some do it to preserve their hard work on a cancelled game, while others may do it to get back at an old coworker or a boss. Consider not just the claims themselves, but how they are presented, as well as the audience at which they are directed. Being aware of the potential motive behind a serious rumor is key to protect yourself from false information, or biased reports from the source.


It’s ironic that this turned out to be true. Though, I kind of get annoyed with the meme now.

As for “leaks”, the first rule is that we should never trust still images, and in some cases even gameplay. Artsy Omni raised the stakes for fake leaks very high, which only Nibroc and gameonion have come close to emulating. The more blurry or distorted the image is, the more likely it’s fake.

Movies on the 3DS without the bottom screen belong in the garbage. Moves on the Wii U without the Gamepad in sight is also troublesome. In both cases, movies can be played on the console, in full screen. Furthermore, the 3DS is wide open for homebrew, with the Wii U being very close to being 100% open. Fake gameplay will be even easier to make in the future, and requires everyone to be extra vigilant.

In general, I implore everyone to think about what information is being leaked or made into a rumor. Does it make sense? Does it follow the pattern of previous games development, or align with some information that is not readily known? Can the source be contacted?

In addition all of these questions need to be asked.

Who – is leaking?  Do they have a history of leaking information? Are they reliable?

What – are they leaking?  Does it make sense?

Why – are they leaking it? Think about their ulterior motives.

How – are they leaking it? 4chan? To a journalist? Somewhere else?

(And somewhat less important)

When – are they leaking it? What time and why did they choose that timing?

This is only applicable for when people claim to be from a certain country.

Remember, keep your thinking hats on when discussing potential rumors and leaks. Good luck!   

Also, check out our debate on the Gematsu Leaks Rumors. We provided a full breakdown of the rumor, and addressed various aspects of it.

PushDustIn is constantly battling against fake leaks and misinformation. Follow him on Twitter to support the cause.

  1. I admit that I’m a bit optimistic for rumors if there’s SOMETHING to back it up (like Layton’s VA mentioning “extra pages of lines”), but I try to remain skeptical for most things.

    Rumors / leaks from reliable sources (like the Roy/Ryu datamining and the Shovel Knight rumors) I tend to believe more. I’ve never really bought into rumors from out of nowhere.

    BTW, what’s that whole thing with the Little Mac / Shulk picture about? I must’ve missed something…

    Winturwulf (@winturwulf) on September 4 |
    • When what became the “ESRB leak” first popped up, we got our first image of the Smash version of Shulk in some of the images. Because of how his head is positioned – and the game’s art style – fans initially jumped at how similar his chin was to Mac’s. Many people took that as a sign of its being photoshopped, because a leaker would have used older assets to make their stuff look more “real” (like how Omni repeatedly uses character art). That idea inevitably mutated in really bizarre ways, with a few fans arguing that Bowser Jr. was of all cockamamie things a redesigned Diddy from a Brawl mod.

      Just on a personal note, I’m far more interested in fake leaks than real ones. Fake leaks are really interesting for what they collectively reveal about the community, what it wants, and where it is. It’s really fascinating seeing the way some of them deliberately court specific audiences, like the one that said the game would have two separate physics engines.

      Wolfman_J on September 4 |